Pastor Ed Young, Jr. at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX is the subject of a WFAA local investigative report into allegations that he is living a luxury lifestyle on the backs of the tax-exempt gifts of the members of his church. Ed Young, Jr. responded to the charges during his Saturday evening service on February 6.
I covered this for two days on my own program here in Detroit, concluding yesterday with a summary of what the Bible says about how much a pastor can be compensated. Listener Jeff missed that part of the program and asked me to summarize the scriptural points, which I am happy to do here.
Here’s the gist of what I said about how the Bible puts boundaries around a pastor’s compensation:
I first went to the Old Testament and talked about how the Levites lived off of the sacrifices (animal sacrifices and offerings), making the point that God expects his people to care for and provide the support for the life of their shepherds/spiritual leaders. How much of those offerings could be utilized by the Levites was clearly stipulated. There were boundaries on the living the Levites could make off God’s people.
I then talked about how Jesus told his disciples not to carry a purse or money, making the point that money should not be the priority of ministry and further that any size purse is never big enough, creating in us a desire to accumulate more and more wealth. I cited the verse that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Then we went to 1 Timothy and Titus and pointed out that in both lists of the qualifications for pastors, a warning about money is mentioned. Then to Hebrews 13:5 – 7 where the writer warns us to “keep our lives free from the love of money,” doing so in the context of imitating “the way of life” of our leaders, a clear indication that a pastor’s life should not be characterized by wealth. Then to I Peter 5 where Peter warned his fellow elders to fulfill their calling “willingly, not under compulsion, and not for greedy gain.”
Finally to 1 Timothy 5 where Paul makes it clear that we are not to muzzle the ox who treads the corn, that the laborer (the one who labors in teaching the word) is worthy of his hire, but that Paul himself did not make the ministry his sole source of support for his lifestyle (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8), therefore the best approach would be for ministers/pastors WHERE POSSIBLE to support themselves through other labor THOUGH SCRIPTURE DOES NOT REQUIRE THIS. That said, however, no pastor should become wealthy by worldly standards strictly from ministry income. The broader point was that the Bible allows for pastors to “live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14), not to get rich by worldly standards from the gospel.