How Can a Pastor Make a Living Pastoring a House Church?

A Little Lesson

If you’ve followed David Servant’s teaching, you know that he’s been addressing the subject of house churches in great detail. Some people wonder how a pastor can make a living pastoring a house church. Since pastoring a simple, disciple-making church doesn’t take a lot of time, can a house church pastor justify being paid for his role? Learn more in this Little Lesson!

Picture of pastor budgeting and trying to make a living pastoring a house church

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I’ve talked about how just about any Christian can start a disciple-making, simple church. I did several little lessons on that and I also did a little lesson on is it a sin not to go to church. I’ve delved into the subject of simple churches or house churches which are generally small in nature and are structured differently. They don’t have the building, they don’t have all the programs, they don’t have all the staff that the big box churches have, but they can be just as effective if not more effective at making disciples if that becomes the focus.

I know that a lot of simple churches and house churches just become a little, bless me club that are just inwardly focused and there’s no outreach whatsoever. There’s room for improvement there, to say it mildly, because Christians are supposed to be reaching out. We’re commanded to go, not sit around and look at each other and get blessed, but go into all the world and make disciples. So that’s what God wants us doing and our simple churches ought to be focused on disciple-making. The growth that we have in our lives should be reflected in our effectiveness in reaching out to others with the love of Christ and with the gospel, et cetera, et cetera.

On of our Little Lessons viewers is wondering, how can you run these small churches and still manage to pay the bills?

I am assuming they’re not referring to the bills of the church, because a simple church has no bills. That’s one of the great things about it. M e-Teaching Totally Loving My Tiny Church goes into that in a little more detail. But a simple church doesn’t have a mortgage, doesn’t have rent, doesn’t have utilities. You don’t have to buy overhead projectors and sound equipment and all this stuff. You don’t have staff, so you don’t have salaries. And so how do you manage to pay the bills? I think he might be implying that he’s a pastor and needs an income to pay the bills. How am I going to pay the bills and lead a simple church and make disciples? Well, great question.

God loves you and he wants to supply all your needs. But pastoring one simple church, one disciple-making house church, probably doesn’t require 40 hours a week of your time, does it? No. Now, if your simple church is multiplying and you’ve got simple churches that you’re planting all over the place, well that could be full time. And so you could very justifiably say to the members of every simple church, “I’m doing this full time, because God called me to because I’m a God called pastor. I’m a God called overseer. This is my calling and I’m not supposed to be doing anything but this. So, I’m doing it full time. I’m planting a church there. I’m planting a church there. I’m teaching over here. I’m busy full time. Would you consider supporting my ministry?”

And if they’re being fed by you and being ministered spiritually by you, well they should be inclined to do that. And if they’re not, well then you’d have to question their commitment. And you might question your own effectiveness at making disciples. Because a worker is worthy of his wages and Scripture talks about those who preach the gospel, they should be making their living from that. And that can only come from the offerings of the people who are benefiting by their ministry. But, I just want to add, that’s if you’re working full time. And so many, many simple church leaders have a job outside of their simple church, because it only requires a few hours a week of their time. Simple church pastors don’t have to prepare sermons.

I mean the average pastor spends like 10 hours a week, or something like that, preparing a sermon, because he has to have a great sermon because that’s the centerpiece of the Sunday morning program. The sermon. It better be good. And so man, you better devote some time to it. It’s not easy coming up with something new and fresh every single week, 52 weeks of the year, year after year after year after year, and staying ahead of your people. Teaching them stuff that they don’t know. Because again, it’s all knowledge based. It’s all knowledge focused. It’s just cramming more knowledge into our heads rather than focused on making disciples, which is characterized by obedience to Christ’s commandments and making disciples yourself.

So again, you understand, I don’t like to be critical of big box churches. I was a big box pastor for years and years and years. I got out of it for a number of reasons. One of which was the concern over the lack of real fruit and I began to see that the biblical pattern was different. You might not agree with me and that’s okay, but we’re all going to stand before Jesus one day, right? You know, we all have the same Bible. And when we ignore what the Bible says, we don’t get the same blessing that we would if we would apply with the Bible says.

So, if you’re just a leader over a single little house church, you don’t need to be taking up an offering for yourself. Okay? Forget that idea. That’s going to turn off your disciples. They’re going to think, “What? You want us to give money to you?” You don’t prepare sermons. You just come and we read the Word and then we discuss it. You might have more input than anybody else, but you know, this is not a full time job. Why should you be getting money? You’re sending a wrong message. But, if you’re out there everyday, eight hours a day doing the work of the ministry, planting more churches, making disciples, spreading the gospel, well then you ought to be asking the people that benefit you to help you. And by goodness, they ought to be helping you if they’re benefiting from your ministry.

So that’s how you pay the bills. But if you don’t have that, then you have to get a job somewhere else. That’s great, because you’re on the mission field then. You’re in the harvest. You’re not beholden to any church boards. You’re a free agent for Jesus out there, a missionary in the harvest working a so-called secular job. But there is no such thing as a secular job to a Christian. Amen.

Because you’re a missionary wherever you’re at and you make your living by some means. But you’re there as an Emissary, as an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Right? Right. OK. And as a pastor of one single house church, you’re setting a great example in front of your flock. Because that’s how you teach primarily, not by your sermons, but by your example. You come each week and say, “Hey, here’s who I talked to about Jesus this week at my job. Hey, here’s somebody whose heart is opening to the Lord. Hey, I led someone to Christ and here they are with us. I want to introduce so and so to you.” So you’re being an example of a disciple-making minister and it’s going to spread. It’s going to catch. Okay. All right. So hopefully I answered that question. Thanks for asking that great question. I hope to see you next time.