There is a business arrangement in the church world known as honorariums. This is normally when a church is expected to give a set amount of money to the speaker for their ministry. Sometimes, this can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. This is especially true for conferences.
This is popular these days for ministries that travel. There are business reasons for this. The question does not center around “wisdom,” but is it scriptural to do it? This is where the question becomes a little more complex. The reason is there are no clear examples in the New Testament because the practice would have been unthinkable in those days.
What exactly is an honorarium?
a payment for a service (such as making a speech) on which custom or propriety forbids a price to be set.
Where this becomes a challenge is when a ministry set a set amount for it and will not minister without it being paid. This is very common in charismatic churches more than in Pentecostal churches. I personally know of a ministry that will not come without at least $10,000 in his account beforehand. This is not the exception but the rule.
Going into the honorarium culture?
One of the clearest example of this abuse is Juanita Bynum, a “prophetess” with questionable integrity. She needs $5,000 to start, 60-70% of the offering (we will get on this later) above the $5,000 or another big check as a honorarium. This is on top of first class airfare, three tickets for her “amour bearers,” it must be with their agent (kickbacks?) and the host ministry is paying for it all. In addition, there is need for a Presidential suite at a 5 star hotel, Kings room, and all meals are to paid for by the host.
This is in contrast with Jesus and Paul that lived next to be homeless, preached for nothing and trusted the people of God to be moved to support them. We know that Jesus was supported by women out of their own means (Luke 8:3) Paul was supported by the churches and often thanked them for giving to his work. (He was a “tent maker” a total of 3 of the 30 years of ministry.) No special treatment, no fancy places to stay. No glorified meals. They lived to tell people of the power of God to save, heal, and deliver.
A return to biblical norms of how people do ministry is more than just theology. It is also how we conduct ourselves in the “business” of ministry. If Jesus did not need the most expensive hotels (there are not even room for him in the Inn!) and the first class treatment, why do we need it? It is time to rethink how we do traveling ministry. We could be stopping people from getting saved because we are to live like the rich and the famous.
The apostolic witness (Book of Acts lifestyle) demands we concern ourselves with the things of the Spirit and the mission of God; not how “comfortable” we are in this world. We live in without comfort in this world so that the lost can live in comfort for eternity.
Policy of Extreme Evangelism
This ministry operates on two mandates concerning finances and travel arrangements. The focus is on trusting the Lord to provide and opportunity in partnership with local congregations. In general, the cheapest way to complete the Great Commission is used. Becoming a burden on churches does not help the gospel be preached to the ends of the earth. There, concerning finances, the two things we do are.
- Offering only. No set amount to minister.
- Opportunity for partnership long term.
I would much rather have 10 people who give $50 a month into world evangelism for the rest of their lives than a $5,000 check once. I have build a partnership that prays for the world, gives to it and is part of the work… plus, in one year, they have given more than that one big check has. The partnership is much more important than the offering at the meeting to be honest.
The focus is souls. I have taken a Greyhound to preach the gospel before in California. I have stay in some very ran down places in Asia. I have eat street food in India. Whatever it takes to preach the gospel and see people saved is what matters.