I sat up late last night discussing being a minister of organic faith with my daughter, Jessica. We often stay up late bouncing around religious and spiritual concepts. We were discussing being a minister and the complications many pastors have today. In Arizona, a pastor was arrested for not complying with building codes in regards to him hosting a religious gathering in his home.
This is not a new dilemma for pastors who have started their churches in their homes. When you place a church sign and a cross on your front yard, have a pulpit, chairs set up like pews, and a set day and time that you gather, it looks like a traditional church service. Why are we surprised when the city comes knocking on the door with police to arrest a pastor for non compliance with something as simple as adjusting the property with a few minor construction upgrades? Sure, he may have the folks park in his backyard to alleviate the roads of cars, they may be as quiet as a secret house church in China, and claim it’s a private gathering, but let’s be honest Christians and state the obvious. Buildings that have that many people in them require occupancy permits and safety upgrades in case of emergencies. I won’t even get into any speculations on whether or not he is tap dancing around the law in order to avoid obeying the laws of the land.
My purpose of this article is not to rail on this brother, but rather to share with you the pros and cons of filing yourself as a traditional religious leader versus being an organic minister.
It is never my intent to deceive the government about my ministry. I want to be sure to state that up front. Since I consider myself an Organic Minister, I have no need to be registered with the government as I am just a woman who simply loves people where they are. I have no need to gather people into one place on a regular basis, therefore we have no zoning or occupancy permits to deal with. If for whatever reason at all, the people I minister to should decide they want to gather everyone together for a night of live music and teaching, we would rent a facility for just that event. Following a path of organic faith has no requirements to gather in the same manner that a traditional church does. We gather in simple ways, much like Christ and his disciples did. We get together at the beach, at restaurants, or we meet up to participate at an activity like going to an amusement park for a fun day of enjoyment.
When a group of friends want to rent a facility for an event, there is no need for a 501c3. I can understand why some groups do have one, because it gives them tax breaks on their properties and donations. When a group decides they want to file a 501c3, then they must comply with the laws and regulations of such a filing with the government. I prefer to not get entangled in that at this time, since the way in which I minister does not need it.
I am free to invite people to my home for a meal and have a living room discussion in any topic we desire. Often times the discussion ranges from child rearing, biblical interpretations, problems in ministry structures, Christian history, or politics. This brings me to my next point about the freedom I have to discuss politics. Since I don’t have a 501c3, I can freely speak my mind about politics. The government has no hold on my tongue or opinion on how they run this country, who to vote for, or what decisions to make about bills being passed. I also don’t claim to be an authority on political matters, so my opinion is just that; an opinion. I never tell anyone who to vote for or who to financially support. That is their freedom as an American citizen.
In the manner in which I minister to people, there is no political agenda tied in with my spiritual beliefs. It is very much against my personal beliefs to enforce my opinions and spiritual principles onto other people. The government will never have to be concerned with me trying to use a pulpit to broadcast religious and political propaganda to a congregation. There was a time when I was blogging about political issues, but I have halted doing that and deleted those articles, because I found myself getting sidetracked from the true desire of my heart, which is to speak about freedom and to love people where they are no matter what their religious or political beliefs are.
I believe in a Spiritual Kingdom that can be lived out right here on earth and in cooperation with the laws of the land. I do not believe there is anything in the Spiritual Kingdom that can be overthrown by a physical nation. Jesus said this about his kingdom, “the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.” My belief about the physical world is that it is temporary and has no power to infringe upon my spiritual growth. The hades of this earth has no power over my soul and the worshipful communication I have with God.
My view and definition of worship is also non-traditional. For me, worship is not just through song, but through a spiritual communion between my soul and my Creator. I have no need to appoint worship leaders into paid positions to perform live so that my soul can commune with God. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy live music! I get to enjoy live music every week at almost any church in my community, but it’s not required. I can pop in a music CD or open up my iTunes on my computer and listen to spiritual music any time I want. I don’t need to buy a hymnal, although I do have some because I found some at a thrift store. Most modern songs today have their lyrics posted online. I just don’t have a requirement from God on what songs to sing nor do I follow any rules on worship requiring music.
Since my husband and I run our own business, we have no need to receive a salary as ministers. I’m not opposed to a minister being on salary if she/he is serving the people full time, offering certified counseling to the public for free, or taking care of their building. I think a minister who serves an entire community for free, as a ministry, should be supported. People can come to our home and we’ll encourage them, disciple them, and be there for them in emergency situations because that’s just what we do. We pay our own house payment so there is no need to ask them to.
My hope for people is that they will see their worth and role in this world and be joyful. I have no desire to enable them to rely on me for their growth. I find joy in seeing people not have to rely on me or any other minister. The purpose of having the indwelling Christ is so we can rely on him, not on a minister.
Jesus never taught anyone to link their gatherings into the government system. His ministry was spent visiting people from house to house, dining with them, lounging with them, and walking by the Sea of Galilee with them. He didn’t need any money, a building, or a 501c3. Sounds like an enjoyable ministry to me. This is the freedom I have as a Minister of Organic Faith.