Is Pastoring A Divine Call To Serve Or An Earthly Career?
Have you ever read of a church placing an advertisement in the newspapers seeking the services of pastors and evangelists? What would first strike you upon coming across such an occurrence? The very idea raises some serious questions on whether it is a spiritual or mundane matter. One wonders what could have prompted a church to invite for employment a total stranger to handle its pastoral affairs. Has pastoral calling now become like any other career, where one can simply submit his CV for employment? Should men of God be called or hired? Is it at all Biblical and what does the development portend for the church of God? CHRIS IREKAMBA sought the opinions of some clerics on the issue.
‘Pastors Are Called Like Aaron Was Called’
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor, Victorious People Assembly Int’l Inc., House Praise, Aba, Abia State)
THE position of the Bible is that no one taketh this honour unto himself except he is called like Aaron was called. That is what Paul said. The five fold offices in the body of Christ, which are mainly prophets, teachers, apostles, evangelists and pastors. These are offices filled up by calling. So, I don’t understand the process of asking people to apply for employment into these offices. Somebody can be employed as a staff of a church and then he carries out the functions of administrative nature. Or somebody called into these offices and then assigned to work with the church, but to the best of my knowledge, these are not positions that can be advertised just like you advertise other positions in company.
I agree that there can be people with this calling, but who may want to work with established churches. But I am not very comfortable with the process of placing advertisement for such serious offices the way you advertise other employment. I don’t think it is the proper thing to do.
Men of God are called, but a called person can also work for a church. Though they are not hired in the sense that anybody can just be put into such a position. But one can have a calling and then agree to work for any church in the body of Christ in the area of his calling. But it is something that requires balance.
The first point is that God must call people into such offices before they can occupy them effectively. It is also true that established churches can also look for such people, who have been called but who may not be working either in their own established ministries or may not be working in ministries, where they are the head or so.
The established churches can get them to work for them, but I don’t like the language ‘hire’ because that creates the impression to me of just anybody who is willing to do the job or fill a particular position. That is where I disagree. There must be primarily a calling and then where the person works with the calling is a different thing. Some people are called and they are given instruction to work for an established church, while others are called and they are given instruction by God to establish ministries or churches. But depending on the instruction he has, he can work in a ministry established by him or in an established office and still fulfill the functions of that office. If a man is called as an evangelist or a prophet or a teacher or a pastor or an apostle, he is not likely to be employed just as an accountant or a treasurer of a church. Any other person can fulfill that function without necessarily being called into ministry.
A professional accountant, who is a good Christian, can be employed by a church to handle its accounting function. But if a man is called into any of these five fold ministries that I have mentioned, I can’t see the man ending up just as a treasurer of the church or the accountant of the church. I don’t think it is the best.
To me, that would convert these spiritual offices into mere vocation, where people occupy by means of having any qualifications and experience. What I know about these offices is that people are ordained into them and not being employed into them and everywhere in the scripture, where you find people occupying such positions, they had a call and they were ordained by the church as confirmation of the calling and they occupy the position by means of ordination and not through appointment. It is not Biblical because it reduces the position of the offices into mere appointment based on qualifications that are physical.
‘Men Of God Are Called, They Are Never Hired’
(Bishop Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Lagos Mainland)
THE church is not a company, where people can submit applications though it is a human organisation. The church is an assembly of God’s people and divinely established. And so, it is not what you advertise on the radio, or in the newspapers that you are looking for pastors or evangelists. That is a very wrong approach and it’s not godly.
I believe every one that is called from among such people is spotted through prayer, and others know their lives and backgrounds. Such people are screened and not that they just appear from nowhere. Their Christian lives, antecedents, callings, as well as what they have done before are well known and testified to, so that one can truly say ‘Yes, this one is called of God.’ Such people can also be subjected to training and then groomed in the doctrine of a particular denomination or church before they are allowed to become a pastor in charge of a church.
Men of God are called and are never hired. Even the Bible talks of hirelings and that they are not of God. Those are the ones that come through the back door, which Jesus Christ referred to. They are called hirelings and it is they that scatter the sheep. So, pastors are not but are called.
Such people can be put in key positions only if you want your church scattered. Then you can employ such people and engage them in sensitive areas, but it’s not done. How can you put a stranger you don’t even know in key areas? At least, you should be able to know somebody for 10 to 20 years before you can ask him to go and pastor a church.
It’s not Biblical and it is a bad omen. They can be called end-time pastors with end-time ministries. It is a very dangerous trend. In fact, it’s not a matter to take lightly because it’s so saddening and it portends end-time ministry, which is not good for us.
‘God Calls Pastors From Among His People, Not From Outside’
(Pastor Dapo Sokan, Resident Pastor, Christ Faith Tabernacle (CFT), Ogba, Lagos)
FROM the late ’80s the trend about churches in Nigeria started changing the moment they started following the American way of worship with all the flamboyance and such that go with it. So, the Church of God in Nigeria started departing from God. Worldliness crept into the church and right now, it’s only God that knows who is serving Him. Many things have happened and this idea of churches advertising for pastors and evangelists to come and submit CVs cannot be found anywhere in the scriptures.
A man has to be called by God before he enters into the office of either an apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist or a teacher. God calls people from among the congregation and that is the greatest problem we have today. You have to be a member of the church and from among the people before God would call you. He sent Moses and He called Aaron together with his sons, but they were among the Israelites and not from outside.
In the book of Acts, Peter said ‘let us pick two people. One of them will now take the position of Judas Iscariot.’ From this, it can be seen that it’s not done from outside. However, there are now so many people that have failed in their careers, there are so many that have tried many things and were unable to make a head way and they believe that in a church ministry they can make quick achievement and gains. They are those that go into it and these are the ones that would carry CVs about.
But churches that are engaging such people have deviated from God, because you cannot find that in the Bible. There is no basis for what they are doing, as it is man-made. And when man deviates from God, they start engaging in so many stupid things. So, the church in Nigeria needs to pray that God be merciful to us.
The Bible says there are people that are hirelings, when Jesus was talking about the good shepherd. He said there are shepherds and there are hirelings. The shepherds take care of the flock and stay with the flock, but there are some others, when they hear of the wolves they abandon the flock and run away. God is still calling people today because the work is still expanding, but there are so many people that were not called by Him.
There are some ministers that cannot tell even when they were born again. They cannot tell you about their foundation though they might have big churches or big followership. Many things happen in the house of God that we ministers are ashamed to say out, but we can only pray that God would be merciful to us and change things for us. God called people and there are those that called themselves.
Really, it is just like the issue in every profession. For instance, while some journalists rise through the ranks and thereby know the rudiment of journalism, there are some unserious guys, who could stand up in future and claim to be journalists and when asked the school they studied journalism, they can’t tell. But they want to write and put things in the newspapers. We have lawyers that didn’t go to the Law School but are claiming to be lawyers. There are people that did not go to medical schools, but they are claiming they are doctors and the society has accepted it.
In my view, the church has allowed the operations of the world to have dominion over it. If a man says he is submitting his CV, may be they are accountants or book keepers that want to work in the church. Maybe they are secretaries that want to work in the church and they want the title of pastor attached to them though they are not doing anything spiritual but all that they are doing is just official. For a man to stand on the pulpit of the Most High God, as a pastor, apostle, evangelist, prophet or teacher, he must be called of God and he must know that he has the calling of God.
‘Not Aware Of Churches Advertising For Employment Of Pastors’
(His Eminence, Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate, The African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
PASTORAL work is a vocation, which is a feeling that your purpose in life is for a particular work.
Pastoral work is a calling, as God chooses the person. Hence, we talk of pastoral calling. Requesting for the CV of a pastor is not abnormal, as churches, in requesting or choosing their pastor, may like to know the capability of the pastor in order to ascertain if he matches their expectation. For example, in the area of language.
People are both called and hired. A pastor is first and foremost called by God and depending on the arrangement of the church, he could also be hired. Bible enjoins Timothy not to lay hands on a novice (1 Timothy 3:6.) The Bible also asks us to study to show ourselves approved. A CV will guide as to whether one is a novice or learned.
We are not aware of churches advertising for the employment of pastors. Churches do have their seminaries, where called men are trained before ordination and posting.
‘Anglican Church In England And America Is By Advertising’
(Rt. Rev. Michael Olusina Fape, Bishop, Diocese of Remo (Anglican Communion), Sagamu.
THE fact cannot be denied that the Church ministry is a vocation; and the issue of advertising for the position of pastors and other Church workers is not a novelty. This has been an integral part of the recruitment policies of some Christian denominations nationally and internationally.
For example, the normal process for filling vacant positions in the Anglican Church in England and America is by advertising and calling for applications from prospective candidates.
For these churches, this is a normal way to recruit Church workers, especially the Clergy, and it is part of the system of their Church. Apart from the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church also has the tradition of recruiting its ministers by calling for application and also inviting prospective candidates to preach a trial sermon, as part of the overall assessment of their eligibility.
In view of the above, it might be safely concluded that the hiring and firing of the Pastors working for these Christian denominations are the prerogative of the authorities of the affected Churches.
However, this is not the case with the Anglican Church in Nigeria. The recruitment of Church workers is in stages. This begins with the admission of the postulants (ministers-in-training) into the Theological College for their ministerial training after which those that successfully completed the course for ordination are posted by the authorities of the Church to various stations. Students do not have any say on their posting. They are posted to Churches, where their services are most needed. By implication, what that means is that they cannot be sacked or fired except on ground of ecclesiastical offences or problems as well defined in the Constitution of the Church.
While there may not be specific examples in the Bible of how people came looking for job as fishers of men, it was evident that Jesus was responsible for calling people to come and work with him (Mark 1:16-20; Luke 6:1-16). However, that today the Church has put in place a system for people to apply for jobs as minister does not make the practice ungodly.
I believe what matters most is recruiting Church workers that are committed to implementing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). They must be workers who are not ashamed of the gospel, and will be ready to use every opportunity they have to serve God.
‘Danger Is That Basic Requirement For Christian Ministry, Can Be Sacrificed’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer
Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of the Anointing, Warri Delta State).
WHEN we started our ministry well over 30 years ago, we didn’t formalise anything. Brethren, who felt called into full time ministry were groomed and posted to work in the Lord’s vineyard. It was not an attractive vocation as it were. Our families and friends mourned, while our mates mocked. We had taken a vow of poverty and purity. We wanted to get to heaven and to take as many people as possible with us. For many of my generation, this has not changed. But growth and the challenges of modern administration have made us introduce certain things that we never bothered about in the past.
When you lead a growing organisation and simple things like confusion over seniority comes up, you begin to establish some system of documentation. So each staff, whether pastoral or support, has to have a well maintained file. This also assists in things like remittance of PAYE taxes and pensions among others. Before you know it, you become organised like every other organisation and employments (including pastoral) has to be at least formalised. So, it is not a sin to inform of vacancies and such things. The danger, however, is that, the basic requirement for Christian ministry, which is an evidence of a divine call, can be sacrificed on the altar of sound academic qualifications. Men of God should be called not hired. The Bible is clear on this. “Not a hireling!”
We are aware, however, that there are people who run businesses, which they call church. These are moneymaking organisations, which have no heart for God or man. Such people have no encounter with God and seek to simply employ capable hands to run their enterprise. The idea of a divine call and a life of sacrifice have no meaning to them. Most Bible based churches will raise their leadership, especially those to go into ministry from among their members, as they see the Hand of God upon the lives of called brethren. This is what I practise and advocate. And this is the pattern we find in the New Testament church. For support staff like accountants, it is advisable to advertise and get the best, while ensuring that they are believers.