Sunday, 5 August 2007

No Secular-Sacred Divide...Really? Part 1


In recent years, the buzzword in many Christian circles is "marketplace ministry." According to the proponents of the marketplace ministry, the so-called sacred-secular or clergy-laity divide is simply regarded as an artificial division that is not biblically based. This issue emerged repeatedly in the recent Tentmakers International Congress (for my comments on the Congress, see here, here, here and here) and the NECF National Pastors-Leaders Consultation in Nation Building that I attended recently.

While I agree that the sacred-secular and clergy-laity divide is indeed an artificial one, in reality, this divide is clearly emphasised in the church today by both the "clergy" and "laity." I once spoke to a church leader that is championing the marketplace ministry some years ago. I asked this person whether he sincerely believed that the so-called existing divide between the sacred-secular needed to be addressed in the church. He gave me an affirmative answer.

Being cheeky, I then asked, "If this is the case, are you prepared to do everything you could to remove the great divide between the clergy and laity?"

He responded, "Yes, I am."

"Then are you going to address the great divide in the salary of the clergy and laity?" I asked.

"No," he answered. "The full-time workers are called by God to serve him in this capacity while the laity is not. So we definitely cannot pay them the market rate. After all, God also calls this group of full-time workers to trust Him to provide for their daily needs."

Hmmm...so much for the so-called sacred-secular divide being an artificial one.


Credit: Cartoon from Cartoonchurch.com

15 comments:

blogpastor said...

That is a very thought provoking observation and proposal you made to your friend. Aren't laity as "called" to vocations as "clergy"; and aren't they to trust God for provision too?
A challenge that fizzle the sizzle about marketplace ministry. Thanks for this post.

Alex Tang said...

'buzzwords' are often so elastic in their meaning that it could contain the whole Pacific Ocean.

Often I wonder what has clergy-laity divide has to do into marketplace ministries. Which companies employ a pastor anyway?

Speaking from the perspective of a layman, often when the 'clergy speaks of removing the 'clergy-laity' divide, they mean the laity doing all of the work while the clergy retain all of the power. To me it is another powerplay in the church.

Dan said...

"God also calls this group of full-time workers to trust Him to provide for their daily needs." *faint* Double standard. Tell me who the person is, I will go and....haha.

Lee Chee Keat said...

Hmm...just wonder the theology of a full time pastor getting a high salary. Should a pastor deserve a high salaries given the big congregation he is shepherding esp those from mega churches ? Heard Kong Hee got his salaries from his Wife's business- more than SGD10k; Joseph Prince got a BMW car and a salary of more than SGD10k from his sales of CDs, books ...!! Maybe I should think of something like tat, set up a business and hire a person to run my business and get an income of RM10k from the business meanwhile pastoring full time a church. Wouldn't tat be wonderful ??? WOuldn't tat would have solved the division of laity and clergy..hee hee!!

Kar Yong said...

Blogpastor,

Thanks for your note.

Kar Yong said...

Alex,
What you say is SO true. I mentioned in the NECF Consultation that much more theological reflection needs to be done in the "marketplace ministry" as what I have been hearing among church leaders on their understanding of marketplace ministry in the past few years is just too shallow

Kar Yong said...

Dan,

Speak to me privately, ok...hahaha

Kar Yong said...

Chee Keat,
Hahaha...if there is a vacancy in your church, please let me know...

ionStorm said...

I guess the laity don't need to trust God for money one...

pearlie said...

I guess the laity don't need to trust God for money one...
we do ... we trust God to earn all the money we can so that we can give 10% of it to the church, so that the church can be air-conditioned, car park space ample and all paid for, yummy food after every service, lunch and dinner would be good, canggih-canggih powerpoint presentation, so that I can come and worship and be close to God.

Kar Yong said...

Pearlie,

Oh yes, a small portion of your tithe goes to the salary of the "clergy"...!

ionStorm said...

no wonder clergy salary cannot increase la...they give 10% nia... :P

Rich said...

10K is a gross underestimate. If you add royalties from CD, books and BS material sales, speaking engagements overseas. Look also at their lifestyle-(came out in the ST - their homes and furnishings etc)10k - they will be living in debt!! ALL the pente pastors that are invited to preach at megachurches are rich, rich, as God want his servants to be rich!!

cksheng74 said...

Dear Kar Yong,
I must say that I am extremely blessed by your 5-part postings on this subject...thank you for offering your insights, maintaining a good balanced view of this issue

Kar Yong said...

Dear Cksheng74,

I am glad that you find these posts to be useful. Thanks for dropping by.