While logging into my blog this morning, I checked to see how we were doing on Christian Blog Topsites — yes, I do check stats now and then — and noticed that Supernatural Truth was registering a very high number of visitors for such an early hour. (The link is to their homepage, the blog link is below.) I decided to investigate Art Thomas Ministries a little more closely.
He’s obviously a Charismatic — his book, published by Destiny Image, is titled The Word of Knowledge in Action — and it’s easy for non-Charismatics to jump to conclusions when they see spiritual gifts and evangelists on the same page.
So I decided to check out his page labelled “Financial Compensation.” If you haven’t been party to guest speaker contracts, it’s a very dark world, not unlike the dark worlds in the video games my kids are forbidden to play. Like rock star contracts. M&Ms in the dressing room with all the red ones removed. A pre-service snack with three types of imported cheese. A minimum three star hotel.
I was figuring, here’s the catch, this is the page where I roll my eyes and click away to something else.
Instead, I found this:
The most common and obvious question I receive from pastors and ministry leaders who invite me to speak is in regard to financial compensation for ministry. What do I charge? What are my expectations?
The answer is very simple. All I ask is for simple travel and lodging to be covered. If food can be included, that’s a blessing. Outside of these, I do not request any payment whatsoever. If a church can provide beyond these, then I consider it a blessing. But nothing is required.
If the church or event is within a half-hour of my home (in Plymouth, Michigan), I do not need any compensation for travel. If traveling by car, I will usually come with my wife and son. If the church or ministry cannot afford lodging for all three of us, then I will be happy to come alone. The current “business” rate-per-mile is preferred. If distance requires air travel, then I’m happy to travel alone. Economy class is fine–I don’t need any special treatment. If I do travel by air, I’ll need someone to receive me at the airport and provide for my return.
If the church is within a one-hour drive of my home (in Plymouth, Michigan), then I’m happy to commute for each day of meetings. If, however, distance requires lodging, I am happy to sleep on the floor of a tent in the church’s backyard. Anything beyond that is a blessing! I do not have a problem staying with a host-family or sleeping at the church. I would, however, like to be able to shower so as not to offend the visitors!
I can be happy with peanut-butter and jelly, three meals a day. Anything more is a blessing.
While some of these statements may have seemed like humor on my part, I truly do mean them. I care more about ministering and representing Jesus than I care about my own personal comfort. I lived for twelve days in the bush of Uganda, traveling about an hour each day down muddy roads with three of us on one motorcycle. No electricity. No running water. The least accommodations in America can surpass that in quality. My desire is to love the Church rather than be a burden to my brothers and sisters…
Well that was refreshingly different. So, okay; now if this is true, and he means this, which I Cor. 13 tells me you have to accept at face value, then this guy could not only have a blessed ministry, but he could change the world.
I mean that.
BTW, he also has a blog, and the most recent post on this morning was a very lengthy piece about the verse that says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” (I Corinthians 14:33.) I know that disorder is the first thing most mainline Protestants or mainstream Evangelicals think of when we picture a church bringing in a Charismatic or Pentecostal guest speaker. But he addresses this issue in a balanced way, and I encourage you to read it.
I’m sure there are d1scernment ministries (spelling mistake intentional to avoid attracting certain types of comments) who would love to spend a quiet afternoon jumping all over Art Thomas’ doctrines and theology, although personally, I have more sympathies for the spirit-filled crowd than most of you imagine. But if you hold your fire and simply examine his financial compensation page, which is all we’re asking you to do today, you find something rather faultless, rather blameless.
And it needs to be held up as model. For all of us.