Francis Chigbo: I like the way the question was asked, and I guess the answer would be that I don’t think any differently about them than I think of full-time pastors. I acknowledge that I do think it is better for a pastor who leads a congregation to do that full-time, but I also acknowledge that it’s not always possible for that to happen. I mean, I have a number of friends who are pastors but who do it with their regular jobs and, at least for one of them, I know how tough it is for him to manage his profession while being a pastor at the same time. For him in particular, I can understand why he has to do it, and this segues into one of the things that I think is important for how pastors are actually treated with regard to being remunerated. Because if you think about it, being a pastor is a full-time job and often, people do not recognize that that is how we should see them. Apart from the fact that they feed us spiritually, it is a full-time job. It is not just that somebody comes and preaches on a Sunday, no, that’s not all the person does – there’s a lot of work that they do. I mean, at City Church, for instance, Pastor Femi’s the lead pastor and I know how busy he is -some of you also know how busy he is. Sometimes, in some cases, and this is just one example of a case, someone does not have the opportunity to be a full-time pastor as he may not be able to take care of himself with the remuneration from the church so the necessity of him having another job comes up. But I will acknowledge – and I think this is the point that you are trying to make – that where it is possible for somebody to dedicate his full time to being a pastor of a church because that is what it requires, this is better. But I do also realize that sometimes it’s not easy for that to always be the case.
Femi Osunnuyi: 100% and I’ll just give some biblical examples. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul likens those who minister at the altar to the Levites in the Old Testament. He says that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar and in the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But this same Paul at a certain point and because of certain things – he came into a new territory, didn’t have a church, and perhaps wasn’t supported enough by all the ministries – became a tent maker and was doing that on the side. Now, it becomes a problem when, and I’ve seen this, certain Christian movements say, “You see, that’s the main model. The main model is that you should be a tent maker while also doing the work of Ministry”. Some churches in Nigeria even practice this; they actually look out for people who are already doing particularly well financially so that they don’t have to pay them as well. I do think that this is flipping what is meant to be an exception and turning it into the norm. Because honestly, I’ve seen way too many people who try to do both, and many times, in trying to do both, you end up not doing either well. So, as Pastor Francis has said, I want to affirm the fact that there is a necessity sometimes for some people to serve part-time, but let’s not look at an exception and turn it into the norm. And I think that when you see people and believe in the vision that God has called them to, even when you don’t join them, you should try to do the best you can to support them.
Why did Paul write the book of Romans? Most people just think Paul wrote the book of Romans so that he can give us some wonderful theology – that’s not why Paul wrote Romans. You can see this towards the end of chapter 15 and in Romans 16, Paul wrote to the Romans because the Roman church was getting divided and he started expressing the things that were dividing them from chapter 14. The problem is that we just think Romans 1-8 is the book of Romans, and then the “deeper” theological ones that are interested in Israel, Gentiles and the dispensations will focus on Romans 9-11. But then, the ones that like thinking will go to Romans 12:1-2 – “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, and those that love Love and Community will just do the remaining of Romans 12. Then the ones that like government issues and transformation – Romans 13, and somehow, we all end there. But in Romans 14 to some parts of 15, you now see issues of one day being exalted above another, some people practising Sabbath, while some are eating certain foods, and that was tearing the church apart!
And Paul is like, “Hey guys here is the plan o. I have preached the gospel all the way from Jerusalem to the East. Now, I want to go to the West, from Jerusalem to Spain. I want to go and preach in Spain because there are places where the gospel has not been preached and I need you guys to support me; I need you guys to give me money on the way. You guys will not be able to support me if you are divided and here’s why you should not be divided. Let me explain the gospel to you because this gospel unites.” So, you see, his theology was serving a practical purpose; Paul was going on a mission and he needed these people who were to support him in his mission to be united. And for them to be united, he explicates the gospel that brings them together. So, that same Paul is saying to the Romans, I need you to support me in Spain most likely because I’m not going to be able to do tent-making in Spain. He tells the Philippians, “Ah, when nobody supported me, you guys were the ones that supported me and God will provide all your needs according to his riches in glory.” So, Paul knows that the norm should be full support but sometimes that it can’t always happen, so we have exceptions.
[This transcript has been edited for easy readability]