One of the main things I was told about Jewish believers in Yeshua as I was growing up, was that Jews who followed Yeshua did so because they were paid or bribed to believe. When I was taught that, it made sense to me because, after all, why would anyone change their religion and stop being a Jew? When people were telling me about Yeshua, I accused them of telling me this because they would get some financial reward for converting a Jew. They laughed because there was no truth to it. Later, when I became a follower of Yeshua, I discovered that nobody gave you money to believe. There were no financial incentives whatsoever. This didn’t bother me because I embraced Yeshua because I genuinely believe He is the Mashiach, not out of financial motivation.
Over time, I went to Grad school and earned a Master’s degree as well as a Doctoral degree, to prepare me to serve God teaching and ministering to His people. Higher education cost a great deal of money as well as the time and energy invested, and throughout my ministry, in spite of higher education, I have never earned more than a manager of a McDonalds. I didn’t go into ministry to get rich, but I didn’t take a vow of poverty either.
I am not writing this to complain about poor salaries, but make the point that most Messianic leaders live on the salary they get from their congregations, and supporting the congregation is the responsibility of congregation members. If a congregation does not adequately pay its leader, he has an obligation to support his family, which means he may have to go out and get a second job. When one of my former congregations was unable to pay my full salary, I told them I might have to go out and drive a cab to make enough to live on. I said if they need me, I’ll be available, but the meter will be running. If people want their leader to be available to them, they need to support them adequately. Its not just a question of whether you like his sermons or not. A leader needs to be available to visit the sick, and stay in touch with those in need. Being a leader means putting up with a lot of guff from people too. Its a tough job, and usually underpaid.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Messiah.” There are many out there that indeed do peddle the word of God. They are on television and radio and people send money and they spend with no accountability except for the IRS. What bothers me is that people give to televangelists, but don’t support the ones who are there for them. Jewish people are not dumb. They look at televangelists and see con men. When I became a believer, my grandfather asked me if I was sending any of those people money. I told him I wasn’t. He didn’t want me to get scammed.
There are many ministries worthy of support, and if they are not supported, frankly, they will disappear. The Benny Hinn’s of the world will be around. So will others like him. But the local congregations could fold if they are not supported, and they are the ones who will be there for you when you need them. Benny won’t be flying in when you have a life crisis. The local congregation will be there, if enough people support it. They need financial support, and they need you to be there. Leaders need words of encouragement too. The most encouraging things are people showing up faithfully to services, and people supporting the congregation.