Bible References About
Having A Lay Ministry
The LDS church has a lay ministry. This means that our priesthood leaders that minister to the members, (Elders, Missionaries, High Priests, Bishops, Stake Presidents, etc), are not paid for their time and service. All local ecclesiastical leaders work in the private sector for their wages. They perform their ecclesiastical duties after work and on Sundays. They serve for a few years then are released and someone else is called to serve. This is a unique practice in the Christian World. Ministers and priests from other denominations and sects are paid a wage plus charge additionally for funerals, weddings, and other functions.
The Bible teaches that the early leaders of the church taught and practiced an unpaid, lay ministry.
"They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."
These verses are talking about Israel coming under condemnation because their priests and leaders started charging for their services. This whole chapter lays a heavy curse on those who charge to act in the name of God.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
Christ has just ordained the Twelve to the apostleship and has commissioned them to go out and preach the gospel and exercise their Priesthood authority. He has also instructed them to freely serve. They are not to be paid or attain any sort of wealth from the people they preach to. "Freely have ye received, freely give."
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep."
Jesus is teaching that those who are "hirelings", or people who do their work for money, will not be loyal to those they are helping. He uses the metaphor of a shepherd. A shepherd who is paid will not protect the sheep from wolves, but will run away when trouble arises. The head of the congregation is their shepherd, just as Christ is the shepherd of us all. I've also heard it mentioned that some pastors will continue their ministerial work even after losing their faith because preaching is their job.
"And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."
Peter severely chastised Simon for offering him money to exercise his priesthood authority. Simon thought he could pay Peter to confer the Holy Ghost to him. Simon was wrong. Priesthood holders should never accept money to perform services and ordinances.
"I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Paul is teaching the local leaders and members that they should labor to take care of each other, not covet riches, and give and serve. Give, and don't worry about receiving. Too bad a few rich televangelists haven't read their Bibles better. Are you out there Benny Hinn?
1 Corinthians 9:18
"What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel."
Paul is explaining that religious leaders and teachers should not be paid. Their reward is the blessings they receive from teaching the gospel of Christ, subsequently seeing how it helps and touches the lives of those who receive the gospel.
He warns that priesthood leaders who charge for their services will end up abusing their power and authority. There is ample evidence and proof of this in recent history with the fall of TV evangelists and other religious leaders.
1 Peter 5:2-4
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
Peter says that we should be "shepherds", not lords, over the people. We shouldn't do it for "filthy lucre". Peter is instructing the church NOT to have a paid clergy.