An article entitled "Inner Voice of a Grassroots Pastor: Is Pastor Like Little Match Girl?" CCD previously published tells the trouble of a preacher, known by his penname Mu Sheng. His church in the northern China pays him several hundred yuan a month while it's not enough to support his family. He is struggling whether or not to take salaries from the church and donations from believers.
The article has aroused concerns among Chinese Christians， and comments from preachers indicate that they're also facing the same challenges. It can be seen that this situation is common in local churches in the north.
Besides showing their understanding and sympathy, the Christian netizens are divided into two parties. Some believe that there is a problem with church management, holding that preachers deserve a fair wage, while the other claim that the preacher is little faith and should put hope in God to solve his living problem.
For this, the Gospel Times, an online Christian newspaper in the Mainland China, interviews some pastors to share their views on this topic:
View on the work of a preacher
Rev. Li from Xi'ning: It's the path of the cross and a preacher should answer God's calling even facing financial stress
Rev. Li, who serves in a church located in the northwestern China, states that the preacher really raises some problems, but one should bear in mind the mission and calling. "Since the day when we're resolved to serve God, we should be clear that we choose the way of the cross Jesus walked on. Throughout the history, every servant of God experiences hardship, and even some died like the Twelve Apostles."
He's also a grassroots preacher, preaching in a harsh condition of a highland area. In his most difficult times, he picked up discarded vegetables to feed his family and lived in a house exposed to the winds from all directions. His wife died due to the oxygen-poor environment along with a baby in her womb.
But he didn't give up. During the last over a decade, he has built several churches in Xi'ning. God gives us the environment for a reason, to shape, refine, renew and build our lives, he shares.
In his eyes, the preacher not only has a financial problem, but also a spiritual problem that there is something wrong with his relationship with God. "The financial stress provides an excuse for quitting his ministry. It seems reasonable to men, while is displeasing to God. Because it means the spiritual decline. "
Rev. Dai from Anhui: Preacher is God's co-worker and one should take up the cross for the Lord
Rev. Dai interprets the ministry as cooperation with God. (1 Corinthians 3:9) God desires us to work with him and do ministry by hoping in him, obeying and depending on him. He holds that the ministry that sometimes requires hard work may not receive praise and approval from men, but we have joyful and sweet hearts when taking up the cross for the Lord.
Rev. Qiu from Shandong: Be prepared before being a preacher and don't regard preaching as a profession
The pastor shares that a man who devotes himself to serving God should be prepared, aware of the reality that the ministry will be a path of sacrifice. "Paul the apostle was unpaid when he preached the word of God. He supported his fellow workers and himself with his own hands."
A preacher should know that the Lord will provide. She adds that God will never starve his servants. Jesus told his disciples not to take money or sandals, implying that God would look after his servants. For example, the western missionaries came to China two centuries ago. Their missions might give them living expenses for one year and that might be not enough to support their families.
A preacher, in her opinion, who regard preaching as a vocation to support his family, is disqualified to serve God.
Talking about the experience that Mu Sheng felt like begging when receiving his wage after delivering sermons in a church, Rev. Qiu believes that Mu treats himself as a beggar in his heart, regarding the ministry as a profession. Besides, she worries that the plaintive article may bring temptation to those who want to serve God.
Reasons leading to the financial struggle of preachers
Preacher Huang from Guangxi: generation gap
Serving in a grassroots church of Guangxi, Preacher Huang answers that the church has the faint consciousness to support preachers. Many pastors haven't experienced the life in the underclass. "They work in the church immediately after graduation from theological seminaries. Mainly contacting believers, they can't understand the struggles of the younger generation."
Before his servanthood, Huang once lived at the bottom of the society for years. He knows the problems young preachers will face after graduation. "The pressure of the young has been much greater than that of the elder generation owing to a more complicated social environment and higher costs of living. They need the support and encouragement from the elders more than before."
Rev. Wang from Inner Mongolia: there're various reasons and it's not easy to take action
Rev. Wang holds that there are many causes of the problem, including the stagnant security system construction for church staff, backward concepts and narrow minds of church leaders, ignorance of church management by the congregation and limited preaching and communication skills of preachers.
As for the real action to solve the financial problem, the pastor of the older generation suggested some churches who could afford their staff to pay preachers, while some claimed that it was none of his business. But the situation has been improved a bit. Last year his church purchased an apartment with an area of over 90 m2 for a couple of preachers, as a means of promoting the security system.
Solutions to dealing with the financial struggle of preachers
Preacher Chen from Inner Mongolia: find the solution from the Bible
From the viewpoint of Preacher Chen, Christians should face problems positively. Actually the financial challenge of church workers is just one of the problems existing in Chinese churches. We should seek the solution to reviving the church from the Bible, he suggests. "If we find it, the various diseases of the Chinese church will be cured as a consequence."
"Some leave their churches and ministries, who may be like Demas (the lover of the world). But some may not discard their faith after their leaving. " Says Chen.
The preacher adds that it's a must to go through hardships along the path of servanthood. He believes that real workers called by the Lord will not be lost.
Rev. Gao from Zhejiang: CCC & TSPM should introduce welfare system
Rev. Gao considers one of the possible reasons to be a partial proclamation of the truth. Moreover, province-level CCC & TSPM fails to perfect the welfare system that set standards of welfare benefits for church staff, as a result, there is no reference for local churches to pay preachers.
Rev. Lu from Inner Mongolia: change our concepts and set up a fund to support the needed
Rev. Lu indicates that rather than the introduction of related regulations, we should change our concepts for people don't follow regulations.
He advises that CCC & TSPM work to support workers with financial hardships, such as setting up a specific fund. There are always people who want to give donations. Money can be distributed to the needed preachers after investigation and application. Besides, CCC & TSPM should carry out propaganda to change the misconceptions of church leaders. "Believers will be guided in the right direction after church leaders are corrected."
Rev. You from Jiangxi: the church should preach complete word
The pastor proposes that the church should preach complete word concerning paying pastors and that church administrative boards should care pastors and their families. However, it will be a long process to achieve this.
Translated by Karen Luo