We have wrestled with this issue for many years. At first we adopted the traditional approach that all ministries can charge for the ministry they offer based on the Lord’s words found in I Corinthians 9:14, “…the Lord gave command to the ones proclaiming the Gospel to live from out of the Gospel” LET. We went through a cycle when we were convicted that in using this verse to charge for ministry we were making merchandise of the Word of God.
The main truth that brought us to the end of this phase was the Word of the Lord in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you received, freely give” which is more literally translated, “You received it as a gift, give it as a gift.” In context, the Lord was teaching the disciples that their ministry was a gift and they were to give it as a gift while trusting that the Lord would move through others for their provision. Trusting in the Lord to provide is the key and the most difficult to do. Those of us in ministry have a tough time trusting the Lord by faith to supply for our ministry through others. We justify our use of leverage and motivational messages to make people feel guilty about not giving because we have budgets and goals to reach and the people are not cooperating with us to reach those goals. Rarely do we take into consideration that our budgets and goals are our own and not from the Lord.
The teaching of Paul in I Corinthians 9:11-18 gives us the proper perspective on the application of the Lord’s teaching on this issue. In the introduction in I Corinthians 9:11 Paul asked this question, “If we ourselves did sow spiritual things to you, is it a great thing if we ourselves will reap your fleshly things?” Here Paul is describing the normal, mature response of all believers to participate in the Lord’s work together. One will minister spiritual food and others will minister material support in return. It is all ministry.
After teaching what God has established for His people and the authority and right for those in ministry have to live from the proclamation of the Gospel, Paul then expressed that he had relinquished his right to demand or expect compensation from them. In I Corinthians 9:18 Paul said, “What therefore is the reward for me? In order that while preaching the Gospel, I will make the Gospel of Christ without charge, so as to not use fully my own authority in the Gospel” LET. To Paul, in order to make the Gospel available to everyone, gave up his right to be compensated so that everyone who wanted to hear the Word of God could do so without hindrance. This was Paul’s teaching of the Lord’s words, “You received it as a gift, give it as a gift.”
Our conclusion is that the ministry is an opportunity for believers to participate together in the Gospel. Whether the ministry of one is to minister the Word or of one to supply the material things needed to publish the Word, all are participants together in the Gospel. We are at a place where we want to proclaim the Gospel of Christ without charge so that everyone will be able to hear that wants to hear and learn that wants to learn. We don’t want money to be a hindrance or offence for someone not hearing or studying the Word of God. Our concern is for the many thousands who might be turned away from hearing because they did not have money to give. We trust the Lord to provide for His work according as He determines. Our desire is that those who donate to this ministry will give in response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in support of the ministry of the Word of God and as a thank offering to the Lord for what they are receiving from Him!