Shock and Awe
I remember like it was yesterday when I received my very first invitation to minister at a certain city in America. At that time, I had just planted a church in Lakeland, FL and was giving myself full time to the work of the Lord on a local level. As I read the email that day, I was floored that anyone would even consider me to come speak to their congregation. When I got the initial request, I grabbed my wife and tossed her up in the air and said, “Honey, I can’t believe it. I’m only 21 years old!” Boy, was I in for a big wake up call!
The next week I found myself in the green room with the pastor of the host church, moments before the opening service began. My palms were sweating and I was as nervous as I have ever been. Hundreds of folks were waiting in the auditorium for “prophet Jeremiah Johnson” to come and give them the word of the Lord.
What happened next has marked me forever.
In the green room, the pastor pulled out a list of names and faces from behind a door and put them right in front of my face. “You see all these people?” he said. “Yes” I said. “If you want a big love offering tonight, then you had better prophesy to these people and make sure you give them a good word” he said.
Stunned, I simply nodded and he walked out the door as the worship began. I immediately dropped to my knees and cried out to God and said, “What is this Father?” He said to me, “Jeremiah, I have sent you here that you might choose life or death tonight, for anyone that I have ever called has been tested and tried by the hands of men that I might know whom they shall serve.” I wept and wept. I think I missed the entire worship service.
With tears in my eyes that night, I did my best to preach a message on the infinite worth of Jesus Christ and proceeded to stand up the poorest looking people I could and proclaim to them the love and affection of God for their lives. Hours went by it seemed, until perhaps the richest people in the congregation heard absolutely nothing from God, for I decided that night neither to become a traveling prostitute nor allow a host pastor to prostitute me. I walked out of that meeting years ago with zero dollars in my pocket and the voice of the Father on the plane ride home that told me, “Son, I am proud of you, but you must know that many, many more tests shall come in your lifetime.”
Let the Good Times Role
Having had this first encounter traveling and ministering on the road years ago, some would think that the story that I shared above has been repeated over and over again in my life, but the truth is that is hasn’t. In fact, I have been well treated and taken care of in every church that I have ever preached at since. Typically traveling and ministering more than 70, 000 miles a year, this is a tremendous blessing! I have met hundreds of fabulous leaders all over the United States and various parts of the world that love the body of Christ well and are eager to be a blessing where they can. On my end here in Lakeland, FL we host approximately 10-12 guest speakers a year for our conferences and special services and we typically are one of the first churches that leaders contact to see if we would like to have them minister again the following year. Just to be clear, yes, I initially had a very bad experience traveling, but my various experiences since and the many that I have had as a local leader dealing with traveling speakers has been great. One of the unique things that I get to experience on a monthly basis is that I not only host traveling ministers as a local leader, but I get to be the traveling minister that gets hosted by pastor’s from all over the nation. It’s been fun to fully understand what they have gone through to put on a conference or revival service and encourage them through the process.
Coffee and Conversation
While I have personally had great experiences traveling and ministering nationally and internationally, I can categorically tell you that THIS IS NOT THE CASE FOR MANY, MANY OTHERS! I remember having coffee with a gentleman who travels and ministers to the body of Christ and after he shared how he had been treated by host churches in the body of Christ, I literally wept for him, right there in the middle of Starbucks. I could not believe his various experiences. Unfortunately, that coffee story continues to happen over and over again. I would venture to say that 7 out of 10 traveling ministers that I meet with feel USED and ABUSED by host pastors and leaders and on the flip side about the same, 7 out of 10 pastors and leaders, feel USED and ABUSED by traveling ministers. So what’s the problem? The problem is what I believe the Holy Spirit recently revealed it to me as: TRAVELING MINISTRY PROSTITUTION.
I would like to offer what I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me about this growing industry and epidemic in the body of Christ by breaking each side down:
5 SIGNS THAT TRAVELING MINISTERS ARE ENGAGING IN PROSTITUTION
1. They Only Do It To Survive
Like prostitutes, traveling ministers who engage in this lifestyle are really in it for the financial gain. They are not concerned with the welfare of those whom they minister to, but are focused on love offerings and honorariums. They love to take up special offerings and get people to “sow” seed into their latest revelations so that they can feed their next itch.
2. They Never Take a Break
Ministers that are engaging in traveling prostitution blow from place to place, addicted to ministry and the benefits that it can offer them. Because they find their worth, value, and significance from ministering on a platform, the thought of actually being committed to one group of believers for a period of time or even ministering to their own family makes them miserable.
3. One Night Stands are the Norm
Traveling ministry prostitutes are usually only interested in ministering at the fewest amount of services possible and expending the least amount of energy that they can.
4. They Self-Promote and Provocate
Ministers that indulge in traveling prostitution are professional entertainers and producers. They make their own flyers, exaggerate their success, and constantly try to build friends for the sake of where they can minister next.
5. No One Really Knows Who They Are
Worst than any other sign, traveling ministers who are caught in prostitution live in green rooms and are never found down in the altars. They are not warm and friendly and especially enjoy preaching messages and walking off stages without anyone really knowing who they are. They do not care about the host church or what they are possibly going through. They typically have entourages and armor bearers who keep people outside of “their world”.
5 SIGNS THAT CHURCHES ARE PROSTITUTING TRAVELING MINISTERS
1. They are Only Interested in Taking
Churches that are prostituting traveling ministers know nothing nor ask anything about the traveling ministers family. They do not take the time to find out how the traveling minister is really doing or if there is anything that they can be praying with him/her about. They are extremely suffocating and treat traveling ministers like magicians.
2. They Enjoy the Thrills
Churches that are prostituting traveling ministers love the thrill of revival type atmospheres, but are not willing to pay the price to see them sustained. These churches pump traveling ministers for all they have in one, two, or three meetings, but could care less about cultivating their own atmosphere of breakthrough.
3. They Are Desperate
Churches that are prostituting traveling ministers are desperate and typically have nothing going on when they do not have a conference or revival service. These folks see traveling ministers as their saviors and only hope. No pressure LOL
4. They are Hypocrites
Like a rich married business man who outwardly portrays himself as blessed and happy, yet has a secret lifestyle, churches that are prostituting traveling ministers usually have created a picture through social media that they are well put together and are well off.
Upon arrival, the traveling minister finds out the opposite is true! Why do so many pastors tell traveling ministers that the church is “struggling financially” when they pick them up? If you don’t have the money to invest and bless traveling ministers, then do not invite them to your church or ministry!
5. They are Cheap
Churches that are prostituting traveling ministers take full advantage of them and do not place proper value on their time, efforts, and energy expended. They expect traveling ministers to cover their own expenses and then give them love offerings that they would be ashamed to give their own mother.
Let’s Get Practical
I would like to finish by leaving the reader with seven pieces of advice that will help traveling ministers as well as host churches avoid traveling ministry prostitution.
I pray that what I have shared will bring healing, clarity, and if nothing else, open up the lines of communication to what I believe is a dimension of the body of Christ that really needs help!
1. Work out logistics with traveling ministers prior to their arrival!
Do they charge an honorarium? If they take love offerings, is there a ball park figure that they usually receive when they minister so that you don’t insult them when they leave? There are many traveling itinerant ministers with large ministries and varying scopes of influence who accept love offerings because they will not charge for the gospel. While this is pure and right, please don’t plan to give them a few hundred bucks for a series of weekend meetings and expect them to be thrilled! I highly recommend you already have a built in budget ready to bless them in case of emergency. These are all issues that should be covered before they come and minister. The more unanswered questions, the more likely offense will come in.
2. Never talk about your struggling church finances while they are present.
The fact that a church is struggling financially and invites an itinerant minister to speak anyways is almost always an immediate red flag and warning sign that they are about to royally dishonor them with a poverty mindset. Traveling itinerant ministers are not magicians. A meeting or three with them cannot compensate for poor leadership around the clock and especially in regards to finances. If you don’t have enough money to bless them generously while they are with you, then don’t have them in at all.)
3. Never assume that they would love to stay with your deacon, elder, or staff member who they’ve never met or heard of before.
Have you ever wanted to use the restroom, get comfortable, have freedom to do whatever you want and whenever you want, but couldn’t because there was awkward restrictions put on you like being in a house with people you don’t know or couldn’t get comfortable around? The next time you have an itinerant minister in, get them a nice hotel room and grant them the right to do whatever they want and whenever they want outside of the meetings. You might be surprised that the meetings they are doing are way more fruitful this way!
4. Find out what their ministry style is by asking them questions beforehand or inquiring about how they like to do altar ministry.
There is nothing worse than when an itinerant minister feels the anointing lift off the altar ministry and they are ready to leave and the host minister is completely on another page. It’s a sad day when the minister continues to line people up to be prayed for and ministered to when the itinerant minister is completely exhausted and worn out. Consistently check in with them to see how they are feeling and shift accordingly.
5. Ask them what they like to eat and drink!
Don’t assume that they enjoy your cold potluck dinner afterwards or that they are fasting like your church is and cannot eat because you can’t. There’s nothing better than a meal they love after they just preached their guts out.
6. Remember, they are a human being, not a circus performer.
They have real issues and struggles like you do. They get tired, have families, and have to pay the bills too. Instead of focusing every minute of every conversation on you and your church, take some time to ask them how they are doing apart from any ministry. Trust me, this will form healthy relationships for years to come.
7. If you announced to the crowds that ALL of the love offerings or honorariums that were received as they ministered would go to the itinerant minister, for the love of God and the sake of your integrity, do it!
Don’t use what people thought they were giving to them for the church light bill, mortgage, your personal vacation, or any other nonsense. Also, always try your best to get them a check before they leave, not a month or two down the road.
Grace and Peace,