To my former converts,
I make this declaration: I’m an Apostle, a Church planter. I take my orders directly from Jesus and Him alone. I have seen Him.
Let me say that you are my work in the Lord. Although I am not an Apostle to others, certainly I am to you. The fact that you even exist in the body of Christ, makes you my SEAL, the proof of my Apostleship and ministry.
As you know, a Church Planter is authorized by scripture to accept offerings and financial support for himself and his family from the Churches he plants. That is, I am not required by God to continue a secular occupation, but to receive carnal things from Churches I plant and mentor. It is obvious that no man goes to war at his own expense nor does a man plant a vineyard not expecting to harvest the grapes. You yourself know what the OT Law says about muzzling an ox, starving it from nourishment while it works. That is wrong! Further, a farmer works hard and plows, hoping to reap a crop, right?
I notice that others are accepting offerings from you, but really, my ministry team and I have a greater right to do so since Jesus used us to plant you and disciple you. Nevertheless, we haven’t done so.
Why? First, we don’t want to hinder the gospel of Jesus. Suffering propels the gospel forward and we have suffered without offerings, even though the Lord ordained that preachers like me should live off them.
Second, I was given a different STEWARDSHIP than others and so I support myself with secular work. Jesus permitted me to do this so that I wouldn’t abuse others, denying them the gospel. Let me explain.
I recognize that the power given to me by the Lord can cause people to give to my ministry, thereby permitting them to place a claim on me. What do I mean by this? Simply that the Spirit moves me to un-churched locations and to people who have not heard the good news. No one Church congregation can expect my continued ministry in their city. I notify them up front that I will be moving on. By using this freedom, I gain more fruit for the Kingdom, not being required to pastor in one spot permanently. If people haven’t paid me through offerings, then they have no say about the duration of my stay. Further, I can’t get comfortable in any one city as even my business propels me to move to the next one. Like I said, this makes me free in the sense that the Spirit can take me anywhere a project needs to be done.
Yet, I am not really free in the sense that ‘I can just do what I want’. Woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel. You see, I’m not free to be silent. Further, I recognize that winning others to Christ requires me to serve them first. In reality, I am their slave, or should I say, a slave to Jesus Christ.
Here’s how serving others works for me. To those expert in religion, I also make myself an expert in order to win them. To the novice, I too become a novice in order to build a soul winning relationship with them. To weak people, I try to become weak in order to gain them to Christ’s Kingdom. You see, I make myself all things to all people, thereby hoping and trying to bring people to salvation, Jesus Christ. That’s what I mean by saying, I am bound to serve others.
And now you know why I have never taken an offering from you. I did it so that I might have fruit among you. It’s not that I am wealthy and have no need of support!
Dear friends, you have probably guessed that I am after the Lord’s reward alone, His prize, that incorruptible crown that awaits all of us who follow His calling. I am not just aimlessly doing things. I really do have a Divine plan.
Similar to an Olympic boxer, I too need training and discipline which enables me to win. Discipline gives me a temperate mastery over my flesh, preventing me from losing, allowing me to finish the Kingdom race. Thus, another reason I refuse offerings.
And one final note, just so there is no misunderstanding about why I do things this way. I don’t take offerings because I know that when I have preached to others, I could become a castaway myself. God’s calling on me could become frustrated and I might be less than I could be in working for Him. That’s it in a nutshell.
Brothers, I hope you understand my Apostleship better now and why it’s different from Peter’s or any of the others who travel with their wives and take offerings from you. I keep my secular job because it is a dispensation, a unique permission from the Lord that empowers me to plant multiple Churches.
Paul (1 Corinthians 9)
ps. Jesus said this.
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.