Sellouts or Professionals

Scenario 1: When I was a teenager I used to listen to a lot of “underground” music by bands that made livings working at McDonalds or cleaning toilets or whatever they had to do. They worked to make money. They played music because they loved it. Sometimes those bands would break out and start to gain enough popularity to live off their music. I don’t know if it was me or them, but I felt like it changed their music, like they weren’t playing because they loved it anymore, now they were playing to make their fans happy so they could sell CDs and concert tickets. I usually stopped listening to those bands. They had become sellouts.

Scenario 2: If you were planning a wedding and you wanted really nice pictures you would probably want to hire a professional photographer. You may not have anything against your sister’s brother-in-law’s daughter, but, although she loves taking pictures, she only does it as a hobby and you can’t trust that she will be able to provide high-quality photos which are very important to you for remembering your wedding day fondly. It’s simply an inescapable fact that professionals generally produce higher quality results than amateurs.

These two scenarios represent two very different mindsets. The first prefers the person who is unpaid. His work is far superior to the work of the sellout because he does it with love and passion and without the handcuffs of a paycheck holding him back. The second scenario prefers the professional because she has taken the time, gotten the training, and demonstrated the talent necessary to really “succeed” in her field.

Which perspective do you generally lean toward? Does it vary based on the field or discipline? Here’s the real question: does your perspective on this impact your understanding of ministry and professional ministers, pastors, worship leaders and so on? Just a thought.


About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

6 responses to “Sellouts or Professionals

  • Arthur Sido

    That is an excellent analogy. I think we tend in the church to focus on getting “high quality” church meetings which requires professionals but the early church had precious few men that would be hired as pastors in a traditional church.

    • Dan Allen

      Arthur. I think you’re right. I wonder what our desire for “High quality” church meetings says about our understanding of the purpose of those meetings.

  • Alan Knox


    When I first read this post, my head was reeling. In fact, to make the question even more difficult, I changed the photographer to a physician. Would I call a physician who was not trained?

    But, then I realized that the problem is not with one perspective or the other. The problem is with BOTH perspectives. A “pastor” (or any other Christian) is not someone that we call when there’s a problem or someone we go to to be entertained or educated.

    No. A “pastor” (or any other Christian) is a family member. I think that’s the perspective we should use when we think about any brother or sister (brother or sister… hmmmm) in Christ.


    • Dan Allen


      i used the photographer and musician stories because i think they are similar fields. I wanted to point out that one could look at the same thing two different ways. Certainly no one would want a hobbyist doctor doing surgery on them!

      Anyway I agree with you about family. I think that there is a fundamental difference between how people typically view the role of pastors/elders and what you are presenting here.

      But, what about teaching? Do we prefer the professional teacher or the grassroots teacher?


    • Dan Allen

      or better yet(in reference to my teaching comment): do we prefer one over the other because it is Biblical, or do we try to justify our preference with the Bible?

      • Alan Knox

        More good questions! These questions help us consider what we think about teaching and leading. If teaching is about presenting information in a clear and entertaining format, then perhaps education is vital. However, if teaching is about helping someone walk with Jesus Christ, then many things are more important than the way something is presented.

        From what I see in Scripture, real learning happens when we share life with someone else, which could include spoken lessons (what we typically call “teaching”) but also includes “life lessons.” Unfortunately, today, because of the separation and size of most congregations, this kind of learning rarely happens.

        So, if you are trying to get a college education, then, by all means, find a qualified, educated, charismatic professor. But, if you’re trying to learn to live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, having someone who is a little more mature and who is willing to walk with you (beside you, not in front of you or away from you) is MUCH more important.


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