voluntary eldering vs. hired coaching


My “tentmaking” way of living out my passion is by “Coaching” people on how to start and/or lead a Simple/House Church. I also coach people regarding their personal issues, and helping them move towards their dreams and goals.

If you’re new to the process of “Coaching,” it is a powerful process that helps you get clear about what God is up to in your life. It is a process of discovery achieved through dialogue and by wrestling with clarifying questions.

I have 20 years of experience helping to disciple (mentor, coach, teach, train, counsel) men and women into wholeness and life (with a capital “L”). I am a Professional Coach as well as a Church Planter, focusing on simple expressions of church.

I charge $150 a month for three (30 minute) sessions conducted over the phone. If you’d like to give coaching a no obligation “test drive” with me, email me and we’ll schedule a free session, to see if it’s a good fit for you, and for me. If you’re ready to get started, email me using the link at the top of the page.

The info above is from a house church site which can be located via google.com if one so desires. I am considering this person’s methods today, which I believe are unscriptural and antiscriptural – thus counterproductive. I am not considering his motives which I doubt not are noble and intended to advance the kingdom of Jesus.

First, being a true biblical tentmaker would exclude charging for ministry. If this person is a real Professional Coach and I don’t doubt that he is, would he really need to be collecting money from small churches to the tune of $100 per hour? And why capitalize these titles? Why withhold needful information to a brother until you are paid for it, making it an article of commerce? What happened to “Freely received, freely given?” What happened to “We don’t seek yours, but you.” Matthew 10:8 and 2 Corinthians 12:14: Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children (you Corinthians) ought not to lay up for the parents (we apostles), but the parents for the children.

If this is about “simple church” does one really need to be coached three times a month???

The apostle Paul confessed that “he had the care of all the churches upon him” yet he never solicited fees, offerings, tithes, or gifts for himself or his ministry. He was not selling anything, either, thank God. Nor did he offer freebies up front in order to market something else later. That’s what drug pushers do.

If anyone could have exempted themself from the workforce, would it not have been Paul? As a traveling, itinerant evangelist/apostle/missionary he was entitled to support but that is a far different situation from the settled “local pastors/elders” who were enjoined to work just like he did. See Acts 20 below for this little known text. Most students of the Word know the “more blessed to give” part but the context of the local leaders being exhorted to follow the apostle’s example of tentmaking seldom registers.

Of course Paul did occasionally recieve aid but that isn’t the same as “services for fees.” So, are we really wiser than he? I doubt it. Has not the commercialization of the church adversely affected it? I believe, I know that it has and that the gospel should not be an article of commerce anymore.

By the way, when I was an unregenerate person one thing that greatly influenced me toward the gospel was the fact that the Jesus and his apostles were not money grubbers nor were they covetous, Judas excepted. I also was familiar with a true man of God who always volunteered his services in the churches as a guest speaker. His habit was to quietly put the checks given to him by the churches back into the collection plate with a gift of his own. God used these things to slowly melt my stiff heart. When I observed up close this volunteer elder, I knew the gospel was real.

I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work WE MUST help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:33-35.

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-13: Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

“Be not weary in well doing.” Now that’s another pithy saying which is often taken out of it’s original context which is OK because it can stand alone. Still, the context is that of an apostle who paid his own way.

I hear today a lot of fantasizing about wanting to be “apostolic” but little or nothing said about this aspect of it.

If I interpret these words rightly, Paul is saying that unless one is following his counsel, example, and tradition concerning a lifestyle which includes being gainfully employed then he is guilty of “disorderly” conduct and should be “withdrawn from” that he might be ashamed and repent.

Truly, the first will be last and the last first when it’s all over on planet earth. But it’s sad to see those in the house church community adopting the fund-raising practices of the world. Why? Because we have total freedom to do what is right. Sorry, but I cannot see a true apostle promising that for “an offering in any amount” he would send the first portion of his next book. Nor would he have collected names for a “free” newsletter, calendar, or magazine intended to milk donations out of the recipients. Nor would he have charged for “coaching sessions.” Rather he:

… dwelt two whole years in HIS OWN HIRED house, and received ALL that came in unto him. Acts 28:30

By the way, several years ago the leading “Christian counselor” admitted that that industry would be better left to volunteers.

Why would a man redirect his life’s work at its zenith?

Two years ago, in an interview with Christianity Today, Larry Crabb, a Christian psychologist and best-selling author, announced, “In the end, all counseling—intentionally or not—deals with issues of sanctification. The primary context for healing, then, should be the Christian community, not the antiseptic world of a private-practice therapist.”

Put simply, Crabb has had a conversion experience, and his new thinking has direct implications for pastoral work.

Crabb coined the term ‘eldering’ to describe what he believes ought to go on in the local church between older, wiser members and younger, struggling men and women. He believes this interaction can often be more redemptive and healing than traditional psychotherapy.

http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/1997/spring/7l2037.html

  1. #1 by Brent Davis at August 3rd, 2006

    Zane,

    Good words brother! I suspect that many professional clergy who have left the institutional church world will try to find some way to continue the practice of being paid as a Christian leader within the New Testament church framework.

    Your citation of Biblical evidence against such practices needs to be reviewed regularly. The reason being that paying someone for services renedered returns the group to institutionalism. It distinguishes the experts from the amatures. It just gets in the way of christlike simplicity. I would definitely stay away from an group, house church or not, that pays its leaders. It won’t be long until they become the very thing they have been trying to get away from in the first place.

  2. #2 by faith at August 3rd, 2006

    I find it atrocious that this “tentmaker” would call the ministry tent making in the first place.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t the extremely naive who fall for this type of thing. It seems to be the normal today as the ministry has become a big money making profession….not a calling from God. And thus we can see at least many of the false teachers for what they are…moneychangers making the churches dens of thieves.

  3. #3 by Tim at October 23rd, 2006

    Zane,
    Seems you forgot the 9th commandment about “not bearing false witness.”
    Perhaps next time – before you disparage a brother and his way of putting bread on the table – you could check with him to get your facts straight, or at least, to express your thoughts on why this offense grieves you, brother to brother. A simple email would have sufficed. It seems you decided to disparage a brother in the name of writing a clever post and to show others how much you have cornered the market on “Truth.” I am deeply disappointed by your choice to use your blog for this purpose.

  4. #4 by D Zane Anderson at March 9th, 2007

    Tim, I would like for you to show how I have borne a “false witness” and failed to “get the facts straight.” We’ll get it fixed and you’ll get an apology if that’s been the case. I intended to ignore your accusations but you are essentially calling me, in public, a false witness. (That after chiding me about solving disputes privately, “brother to brother.”)

    In my post I was expressing my disapproval of your methods which I believe are unscriptural and counterproductive. I didn’t impugn evil motives toward you as you did to me. In fact, I gave your motives the unqualified benefit of any doubt.

    Fyi, I do not feel I have any market of any kind “cornered.” Weeks seldom go by when I do not learn new truths and abandon errors.

(will not be published)