Men should not preach to get paid; men should be paid so they can preach. There is a fundamental difference in that statement:
• If someone preaches to get paid, the emphasis is on the preacher wanting to receive money from the congregation for the time that he preached.
• If someone is paid so they can preach, the emphasis is on the congregation wanting to give the money to the preacher, so he has time to do everything needed before and during the preaching.
Supporting a preacher is not about paying for a sermon – if it was, I have been paid more per half hour (or 45 minutes!) than most plumbers make in an hour! Supporting a preacher is about freeing a man from other means of working so that he has the time to devote himself fully to the ministry. That is what Acts 18:5 means:
(CSB) When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word….
“It seems likely that they brought gifts of money from Macedonia to Paul which relieved him for a while from having to work at tentmaking for his living. Instead, he can give all his time preaching the gospel” (Reese, Acts, p.642).
Paul stopped spending time making tents with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1-3). While working a “regular job” he still preached. He “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks” (18:4). With the financial support he could expand his time spent preaching from just one day a week to “full time”, to use a modern phrase.
Congregations who think:
• “If you go on vacation, you aren’t ‘working’ so no ‘paid vacations’” are thinking fleshly. Yes, I have heard this said. In the business world that model can work because businesses are only paying for the time “on the job”. I’ve held bible studies via text while standing in line at Disney World. I didn’t say, “Nope, I’m on vacation”.
• “If you preach a gospel meeting and are paid by the other congregation, you aren’t working for us, so no salary that week.” Again, yes, I have heard this said. That congregation thinks they are paying for sermons instead of supporting a preacher (1 Cor.9).
Preachers who think:
• “I will be happy to hold you a gospel meeting” thinking as long as I am paid, also have the wrong attitude. If you are already being paid for your time by a home congregation this frees you to preach – even for others for “free”.
If the first line still doesn’t make sense, try this: Men don’t preach so they can be paid for the time delivering the sermon. Men are paid so they can have the free time to study, prepare, and preach in the pulpit and elsewhere. When asked where I preach, my favorite answer is, “Anywhere and everywhere; any time and all the time.” I can say that because I am paid so that I can preach.