Five Things You Should Know about Pastors’ Salaries

UPDATE: Listen to the podcast episode about this topic

In many churches, the pastor’s salary is a quiet issue. There is a sense of discomfort from both the pastor and the members when the topic is broached. Such discomfort is unfortunate, however, because a number of churches will not seek every year to make certain the pastor is paid fairly.

A couple of prefatory comments are in order. First, we all know of the extreme examples of pastors living lavishly or mismanaging money. Those stories, though true, represent a small minority. Most pastors are not overpaid. And most pastors manage their limited finances well. Second, I am aware that many people are unemployed and that anyone who has a job should be grateful. That is still not a good reason to pay a pastor unfairly. As a final note, this brief article is relevant to all paid church staff, though my focus is here on the pastor.

In my 25 years of consulting and working with churches, I have discovered five common issues that are not always known by most church members. And lack of awareness of any one of these issues can have a detrimental impact on fair compensation for the pastor.

  1. A pay or compensation package is not the same as a salary. I cringe when I hear churches state a package to be the pay for the pastor. The package includes benefits such as health insurance and expense reimbursements such as business use of the automobile. No worker in a secular company adds their benefits and expenses and calls it their pay. Anything other than the cash payment (before taxes) the pastor receives should be reported in a totally separate category.
  1. There are many resources to find out what the fair compensation for a pastor should be. Many denominations provide their own compensation studies. But you can do an Internet search for “pastor pay” and see a plethora of resources that are available. And as a rule of thumb, you could seek to estimate what the mean income is for families in the church, and use that as a basis for compensation for the pastor. Churches that do not do their homework on pastoral compensation tend to underpay their pastors.
  1. Many pastors request no raises but would still appreciate one. Some pastors simply don’t want to deal with a critic who might question any raise given to a pastor. Others feel extremely uncomfortable talking about money in general, and use the “no raise” request to deflect further conversation. Some think it’s just the noble thing to do. But most pastors, in reality, would appreciate a fair raise to keep up with growing expenses. Don’t accept their requests as the last word.
  1. Many pastors are under extreme stress because they do not have adequate income to meet their financial obligations. Like anyone else who is under heavy financial burdens, a pastor can find his thoughts consumed with worry. Because he is so distracted, he naturally is less effective in his ministry. Both he and his family feel the pressure.
  1. Some pastors leave their churches because of pay issues. You will not likely hear a pastor announce in his resignation that he is leaving because of financial pressures. The reality is that, for a number of pastors, the issue of compensation is a major push from one church to another, or from the church to a secular vocation. It’s not that the pastor is in his job for the money; it’s that the compensation for his vocation is insufficient to meet his family’s needs.

Paul wrote these words to his young protégé, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 5:17-18: “The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain and, the worker is worthy of his wages’” (HCSB).

It is unfortunate that the few indulgent pastors who live lavish lifestyles get most of the attention. The reality is that most of the some 400,000 pastors in America are not overpaid; indeed many are underpaid. Those are the pastors who need our attention.


      • B.Kathak, Pastor says

        i am part time pastor in small village church, my church believers are unable to paid salary but they are willingly paying me through collection of every month of 2nd sunday offering.

      • Jay Cooper says

        Dr. Rainier, what is your thoughts on whether a pastor should tithe or give generously ongoing from the salary, and perhaps, housing allowance portion of his pay? Thanks for your thoughts!

        • Thom Rainer says

          I am personally convicted to give at least a tithe of the salary and the housing allowance.

    • Robbin says

      Dr. RAnier,
      I have a question. Is it proper for mileage reimbursement to be lumped together with basic compensation in one check or should a separate check detailing miles being reimbursed be written.

      • Thom Rainer says

        Robbin –

        Auto expenses are a direct expense reimbursement and should never be confused with basic compensation. I would advise against including the amounts in the same check.

      • Steve Pryor says

        Absolutely, mileage should be a seperate check. Please, tell me it is handled as a reimbursement (no taxes paid), not an addition to base pay.

      • Kim says

        Are you kidding me? Have you ever pastored a church? I guarantee you have not, and have absolutely no clue of the expectations and demands on a pastors time. It is incredible to me the things that church-goers expect from one man. It’s no different than running a small business. Give me a break and get a reality check. And, by the way, I’m not a pastor nor am I related to one. I’ve worked in both the secular and ministry fields. Nobody begrudges the salary of a CEO of a small business, but throw an offering envelope and a few Bible verses into the mix, and suddenly everybody has something to say about it, and it rarely errs on the side of generosity. 1 Cor 9:4-14, 1 Tim 5:17-18, Gal 6:6, 2 Cor 9:13

        • ddking says

          The problem is that the church is not run by one individual. The church is actually the body of Christ and we all are members who are supposed to play a part in it. A lot of times, pastors take on more responsibility than their job entails and do not delegate to other members. The early churches were not ran by one person but elders and ministers working together as one unit. Perhaps pastors should put their foot down and inform member’s of their actual responsibilities and tell them to pick up the slack in the rest. That way no one will be complaining that they are being overpaid.

          • Sandy says

            I don’t get paid for using my spiritual gifts, nor should anyone. We are all to contribute so that no one is overworked. A “love gift” for going above and beyond is in order, but the modern day, paid pastor is unbiblical!

          • Kevin says

            Sandy the Bible says that people who labor in preaching and teaching should be worthy of double-honor (double compensation) and in the same context it says the laborer is worthy of his wages, and also “you shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain”. (one who works for something should be able to benefit from it). It is true that Paul says in 1 Corinthians he presents the Gospel free of charge, but in the same passage he also says that what he is doing is revoking His right of the gospel. We can see based on these evidences that he is speaking a descriptive truth rather than a prescriptive truth, and that it is the full right of the pastor, biblically speaking, to get compensated well for what he is doing. Pastors work nonstop, taking phone calls all day, preaching, giving advice, and so many other things that the congregation doesn’t see. If he did not get paid for doing it then he would not be able to focus all his attention to the mission of the church, hence “muzzling an ox when it treads out the grain”.

          • Alex says

            Early American settlers were mostly poor yeoman farmers and so were the preachers. These men of God did have regular jobs but also felt called to lead the local congregation. Generally, the pastors were paid very little to nothing in most towns. The people of the community did give them respect and often invited them over for dinner and other festive activities. This seems very inadequate in our current society but has a simplistic and biblical sense to it. The church (the body of believers) were more involved and responsible for the health and well-being of the church. The church survived and flourished because most members pitched in to help keep the church/community strong.

            Church members need to volunteer themselves more to the point that paid employees are simply not needed. We have so many paid church employees because somewhere along the way we decided to give money instead of time to the church. This is the true problem. Not church salaries but the laziness of church members.

            The church is not a social club designed to make us feel better. We need to be willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work for our churches and communities.

          • Garth says

            Hello Kevin,

            Being worthy of double-honor is NOT double compensation. The Greek word for honor here is “time” and should be interpreted high esteem, respect or honor. Similarly, it should be interpreted as high esteem in 1 Timothy 6:1, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all HONOR, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” The greek word that seems to fit the interpretation “compensation” is “timao”, which is used in 1 Timothy 5:3, “HONOR widows that are widows indeed.

            1 Timothy 5:17-18 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the scripture says, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.” Therefore the interpretation in context appears to be that as the ox deserves not to be muzzled & the laborer deserves wages, so then an elder that rules well deserves double esteem.

            If a pastor feels his compensation through the offering of the saints is inadequate he should find another means of compensation that will not cause believers or non believers to stumble. For whoever stumbles one of Christ’s, it would be better if a mill stone were hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea. Our vocation as Christians should be to present the gospel without hypocrisy & burden on others. The moment that anyone questions your motives suggesting things like “money”, the gospel of Christ will be dishonored.

        • destiny says

          A church is not a business. Its a group of believers who fellowship together and serve one another. The pastor is not the only one pouring in hours, time, gas and money into the functioning of a church and back in Paul’s day they did not have the overhead of church buildings, light, electricity, sound equipment, water, etc. Sucking up offerings. Also, paul and other leaders did not own homes, cars, etc that they expected the church to pay for. A business like Walmart is FOR PROFIT business that is taxed but by the government and known to the public as a place of commerce. They sale products and services for a fee and the consumer is well aware of that when purchasing from them. They are not giving donations folks. They are spending a pre agreed upon dollar amount in EXCHANGE for an item or service they wish or need to by. When a person is giving a donation to the church they are doing so under the pre tense that most of the money will go towards doing the work of the Lord which includes feeding the homeless, helping those in real need, etc. Since a donation is given to help a CAUSE and is usually given with nothing expected back in return Pastors are in no place to demand more out of its members especially when the WORD instructs us to give according to OUR hearts not out of obligation. Many people perform very important functions in the church without asking for a dime. They have a 9 to 5 to handle their daily financial needs. A pastor needs to be thankful for the generous donations he/she receives and get a job to supplement day to day expenses. Remember the church is the BODY of Christ. We all serve a function in the body and one monkey don’t run the show. Double honor for leaders mean getting more respect first off. Whatever monetary provisions they get should be in proportion to their actual work not their title. Last time I checked my Pastor doesn’t call my house every week offering me counseling sections or producing any day to day service for me to justify paying him a tenth of my income. Besides CHRISTIANS were never commanded to give a tithe anyway. Other members of the church have helped me when the pastor is clearly unavailable as it should be because one person cannot effectively run an entire church gathering.

          • Eric says

            Wow Destiny, this is perhaps one of the most short sighted things I have read in a while. I do not say that to be mean, but wow. I know that pastors can seem like they are well compensated because of the scandals and TV programs out there, but the reality is, and you can research this if you want, Pastors are consistently the least paid position for the amount of education they desire. For example, I have 11 years of school, and have never had a dime of help from the church to pay for it, though they benefit from it regularly. Also, when I applied for benefits, I found out that I am in the 212% of poverty for my town. And I live in a pretty blue collar town- and I am making more than I have ever made in ministry. We have a part time staff that is raising a family of 6 for 36K per year. I guarantee that is far beyond your lifestyle. So, no, we are not entitled. But most of us are educated to the degree that we could make way more in any other field. Not to mention all of the areas of compensation we are not given. I do not have a retirement fund, life insurance, and have the cheapest health insurance possible. I have driven cars that break down my whole life, and have a growing family. I am the lowest paid family my size in my congregation by at least 30K per year, yet have the second most time spent in education, and have 13 years experience in my job. Is that fair?

          • Pastor dan says

            Destiny with all due respect your logic and exegesis is quite flawed.

            I am a pastor. I went to school for 8 years to learn and become qualified for this office. I will be paying for that education for the rest of my life.

            I make far far less than the average pastor or person with my same qualifications. I have a master’s degree.

            My churches cannot afford to pay me what our denomination urges they pay.

            At the same time I am unable to take on additional work due to the time I spend doing pastoral care, planning and adminstation, area meetings and visits, hospital visits, classes, teaching, etc. No one would hire me since I could probably work 1 day a week.

            My churches aren’t in a position to pay anyone else to do some of the stuff I do, and the members, who also work and have families, cannot devote the time to volunteering regularly at the church. I can get a little out of them but it’s limited.

            Your view that pastors shouldn’t ask for the financial support they need but instead take on a part time job…what you’re really doing is turning a very difficult and costly vocation into a guilt trip against pastors who honestly try to do the right thing for their churches and their families.

            Show some compassion and understanding. The real issue here isn’t pastors and their greed or whatever but it’s churches that hire pastors without the financial stability to support them. How does one deal with this reality without putting undue stress on the pastor or family and without causing grief in the congregation?

            Figure that out and you can write a book

          • Dee says

            It is truly a shame that you posted such an uneducated reply. I am a Pastor’s WIFE. I know the first hand untold hours (and money) he has spent on his education, his call, his people, his sermons, his visits, the funerals, the weddings, the marraige counselling, the training of others, etc. .and you have the audacity to say that he needs ANOTHER job to pay his bills and take care of his family?? I guess a pastor shouldn’t have a family to care for with your expectations…because if he has another job to support himself and has a full-time church ministry..then he has no TIME for a wife or children. People with your mentality are why pastors are leaving the ministry by the dozens every single day…they are expected to have the education of a CEO, be at everyone’s beck and call 24/7, tickle their ears on Sunday and humbly and thankfully accept being forced to live like a beggar….
            I am sick of this mentality…makes me sick..
            It blows my mind at the biblical ignorance spewing out of people’s mouth in these comments..

      • Joseph says

        Well said… The church today has feared the LORD, but served their gods. They have left up the high places of their fathers before them. They church has NO CLUE as to the biblical spirit of the letter of the law by which the Apostle Paul charged all the churches to learn by his example. They are literalists, letter of the law keepers when it suits the best and live life as pharisees. Christ said we would suffer Paul said to labor and as far as tribute is concerned we are held victims to our translators or those who want to interpret the scripture as it makes them comfortable. The church was never supposed to have one man doing any and all. It was the role or duties of ALL THE ELDERS in the body to do what? Ah… There you have it! We are to esteem these elders two fold that we do, those who do not teach. So if the scripture reference in 1 Timothy 5:17 is about finances then the whole church is bankrupt. But if it is about esteem or just honor, then this is an easy burden for us all to carry out. Shame on us who think it is about paying someone for a service that should be done freely as referenced in Matt. 10:8 But no one like to takes Jesus words seriously, they are most times taken as wonderful options. Father help these professing Christians!

      • Zack Clark says

        I think that teaching for free would be the goal of most pastors. But….. if pastors should have a secular job as well, where is the Biblical example for that? What was Jesus’ secular job once his ministry began? Or Peter, or Paul? They all left their professions and spent all their time ministering. And those people stayed with congregation members and were fed by them. So if a pastor is to not be paid by the church, then the pastor and their family should be housed and fed by the church.

        • Charlie says

          I have a question or better yet a concern. I am a member of a church , a very small church at that, however the Pastor is paid very well and he has a very wel paid secular job. This job has him leaving church in a hurry because he is scheduled to go to work, and actually he miss some services. The preacher is always making comments from the pulpit condemning the members for not being a part of the Pastor’s Aide group; which raises money for him. Mind you this Pastor is only there to preach on each Sunday. Please help me understand, I don’t want to be wrong in my thinking.

          • Brian says

            Charlie, Good questions and concerns about your Pastor who has a second job that has him running from church to the second job. I am a Pastor and I have a few thoughts. First, your Pastors job is to lead worship and proclaim the Gospel. That is a basic expectation of every pastor. So if a second job is interfering with that then you as a congregation need to put a stop to that and communicate the expectations clearly with your Pastor. Second, you commented on the fact that your pastor is “well paid”. I would encourage you, if you already haven’t, to make sure your measuring pay based on a universal scale and not just what might “seem good” or “like a lot” to your congregation. Finally, the pulpit is a place ONLY for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Never, ever to fulfill an agenda of any kind. Your congregation might also want to hold your pastor accountable to that standard. Hope these thoughts help.

          • Charles Benson says

            You should get yourself another pastor. Better yet, pray together about members of the church entering into the offices, perhaps share the expenses for training.

        • Alexander says

          Dear Zack,
          I do agree with what you said but you stated false information, Paul didnt accept any funds except from the Philippians. He was infact a tent maker and that is how he raised his funds. He did however say it is not wrong to pay ministers. Because they have a right to be payed.

        • Nii 1 says

          In the book of Acts 18:1-4 Paul was making tent at the time preaching the gospel. In 2 Cor 12:13-21 He said ‘ I do not want to be a burdensome to the church to hinders the gospel!!!!

        • destinycampbell says

          If pastors REALLY wanted to live like Jesus, Peter, and Paul, they would give up a lot of the expenses they incur (house mortgages, cars notes, etc.) And truly live off the generosity of the people just like Jesus, the twelve disciples, and the Apostle Paul did. Were not the disciples told to only bring the clothes on their back, because, indeed, a worker is worthy of their wages? If Pastors want to live solely on the offerings of the congregation they should be content to live in the same building they preach in (which the church’s congregation is already suppossed to pay for). That way, they won’t be taking more money from church members (many of them struggling to pay their own rent) than necessary. If a Pastor desires the LUXURY of owning his own house and having a certain type of car, he should get a second job and pay for it that way. I’m tired of Pastors and other church leaders comparing themselves to Jesus and Company when they’re not even making anywhere close to the sacrafices that they made for the church. Also, a Pastor is not called to do EVERYTHING in the church. We are all ONE BODY each with vital responsibilities, if the church is structured in a Biblical manner with several elders leading and the full body of CHrist being allowed to display FREELY their giftings, there won’t be a burn out for the Pastor.

          • DJones says

            I am a member at a medium size church 120 people on average probably. My pastor provides free counseling, parenting support groups, is a part of food pantry, serving free meals to over 100 people (members and non-members) every Monday, helps with the community center, helps get free bread for people every day of the week, participates in school board meetings in the community, attends trainings, has a Master’s degree, goes to the hospital anytime someone is in there, etc. This makes him give approx 55 hours a week of his time and you want him to work for free? This does not include the extra time he spends at home reading the bible and having people over for dinners, etc. I want my pastor to live well. I do not want him to be a CEO and make 3 million a year in base salary and 100 million in stocks and bonds, but he should not have to worry about providing for his family. I want my pastor to be able to provide everything I stated above with good mental, physical, and spiritual health. I work 60 hours a week and I am in grad school as is my wife. We cannot meet every demand and have to pick and choose what to put the most energy into during the day. We had to sacrifice our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being for many years to accomplish what we have. I am thankful that my pastor does not have another job because when my wife and I had issues 4 years ago he came over at the moment I called him at 10pm to provide some marriage counseling and then continued to do so until my wife and I worked things out. If he was working that night or could not provide these services to us for free then we might not be together today. People need to quit thinking about “me” all the time and think about how paying your pastor a decent wage can allow him to put all of his effort into providing the best spiritual guidance possible. I could go on forever why this argument about pastor not being paid is not only selfish, but it is also unbiblical.

          • destiny says

            So are you saying that there wouldn’t have been ANOTHER member of the church, perhaps another Pastor who could have also talked you and your wife through your maritial struggles? Also, if the pastor had a regular 9 to 5, wouldn’t he have still been able to come over to your house at 10pm? Are you telling me that if he had not come over to your house right then and there at 10pm that night, your marriage would have ended and there would have been nothing he could do to help you at a later time if he wasn’t available at that very moment? Also, if your pastor was over a church of 1,000, even if the church was paying him a hefty salary where he didn’t have to work, do you think he would have been readily AVAILABLE to help you at that moment? What do you think people who go to churches where a pastor had several hundred members and simply CANNOT handle their issues immediately do? They go to another Christian who is well versed in the Word and experienced in martial issues. See again you’re relying on the assumption that a senior pastor is the only Christian who is able to counsel or help in your time of need.

          • Josi says

            Sadly, there is so much greed and corruption within the church today. Some leaders even prey on many who are barely getting by such as those on disability. Every Pastor I’ve ever met has lived in affluent neighborhoods, driving nice cars, and wearing silk suits. The plate never takes a break in many churches I’ve visited yet even Jesus’ “Lord Supper” is only observed quarterly. Why? too timely? Many of it’s Leaders, are leading in the name of profit. Many deceiving many into believing “give” and you shall be blessed, yet under the guise of pure manipulation and impure motive and selfish desires. Long story short, I had one Pastor guilt me into giving only to have my washing machine go on the fritz the very next week. He came to my house, but it wasn’t to counsel (more poor motive). He panned out the water for me bc I feared it would leak down to the apt below mine. Up three flights of stairs, during the winter, physically and emotionally challenged (undergoing chemo/abandoned by family and fiance), This Pastor did not even take time to pray with me bf leaving my apt. Made no mention of how I was to figure out during illness how I would get wet laundry up 2 flights of stairs. The Elder that accompanied Him made a comment “is there some way we can help her”?…Pastor Mark brushed off the question and out the door they went. My point is two fold…1) When I gave $100 dollars to the Church, I gave anonymously. 2) When considering how I had been treated, I didn’t regret giving but I did feel sad for yearning to belonging. I felt no real belonging, I felt used.. I realized how much of an “undesire-able” I was in their eyes…how one might be despised if they were less then successful, despite what is given as an offering. The way they saw my illness was punishment. I don’t believe that is the way Jesus see’s me. So many false teachers teaching this “prosperity message, word of faith, name it claim it”..garbage, that now we have so many desiring to live and be accommodated to such an extravagance way of life. Not Jesus and the Boys, Why you might ask? I will leave that to you to determine for yourselves.. There is much going wrong in the Church today. I strongly feel if we take away the money aspect of it, it defuses the power everyone seems to find to be so attractive. Jesus did not take payment for the gospel and no matter how many want to distort that truth through multiple interpretations, in my book, it just reinforces the fact that money is their motive…and not Love as it ought to be.

      • Michaela says

        I agree. In the bible they were tending to the crops and working outside of ministry. It should be a volunteer position so that there are no bad motives. However, I do not believe that one person should have to do all of the volunteering.

          • John says

            They had jobs. How do you think they made a living. Jesus was a carpenter by trade. They fished. They were fishing when the waters became rough. Jesus helped them catch fish in one verse. some were tent makers.

            Here is my concern. We asked our pastor to write down what he did each week and he replied with a list of items. It looked like 80% of his day was taken up with things not church related. community, personal interest and so on. He said that all these items are part of Gods work in some way and so we should not question his motives. I don’t want to question him but I am responsible as a trustee to the congregation to see to it that the pastor is working for the interest of those he serves. Also spending money on working lunches without a clear explanation for need. I don’t want to cause problems but It doesn’t seem fair to these good folks that have little but give much. Do you think I am being too picky? Is it reasonable to ask for a full disclosure of his time and written explain of these lunches and dinners. Should he spend more time at the church and less time else-ware. He asked for a sabbatical this summer and was turned down by a unanimous decision. He became very upset. As a result one of our trustees resigned from her position because of guilt. This all makes me question how independent churches are run. I have often said that you can have church in the woods. with no need of fiduciary responsibility. but when the congregation takes out large loans for a building making trustees responsible, it only makes sense to be completely forthcoming in all matters of business. Don’t make people guess. Don’t make people struggle to ask for accountability. That’s what causes problems. Help me understand where I’m wrong. I really want to do the right thing.

        • Nick says

          Sometimes, I am truly amazed at the closed minds of people. Much is Said on here about delegation of work by the Pastor and being a whole church where everyone works and oh yes that thing about if you want a home get another job.
          I would challenge anyone to find a church where more than 20% of the people are willing to help or have time to help. Take some time to read a Bible and see how the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of caring for an Elder. Look beyond the human instinct to insist that someone else do all the sacrificing while you set home in your house enjoying your family and the material possessions you have been blessed with. I am a Pastor in a small church, I am in the lower 10% income level in my state. Am I complaining ? No, I am not. But it is so amazing to me that I see comments with absolutely no foundation being thrown about. Let me tell you something about the average Pastor in an average sized church. When there is no money for supplies he buys, when there is no money for a family in need he gives, when there is no money for utility bills he takes it out of his salary, when the church needs painted he does it, when the toilets are stopped up he cleans them, when he is accused of not doing enough he does more. Yep, sure sounds like a guy who needs to be criticized for trying to take care of his family. Read the Bible listen to the Holy Spirit and take care of your Pastor.

      • Cesar says

        I respect everyones opinion but you cant comment if your not going through the experience of working in the secular then working harder for t he kingdom and raising a family. By the way next time you visit your doctor tell him you need to be treated for free

        • mss says

          Excellent point, Cesar. After all, Jesus healed for free too. He also fed people for free, so we should not pay for our food

        • destinycampbell says

          Yes we can comment. Jesus worked a full ministry WITHOUT asking for pay. He also enlisted a group of TWELVE disciples to HELP him. The Church is not a building but the BODY OF CHRIST, meaning there OTHER believers that should be helping you and that you should be DELEGATING responsibilities too. Sometimes pastor’s get themselves in hot water, because they bite off more than they can chew and work beyond their job discription.

          • destiny says

            If you’re working for the Kingdom, then you shouldn’t complain about money. If you can’t handle the workload, DELEGATE it to someone else. That is what they’re supposed to be doing anyway. Pastor’s work BEYOND their title and other people are being under utilized that is why he/she is over worked.

        • ddking says

          The doctor is working a SECULAR job and it is clearly understood that the job is secular. You are working for GOD when you pastor, not man. That is why you have your secular job on the side to pay for whatever mortgage/car note you want if the church offering doesn’t cover it. Please do not compare church work to secular work. The Church organization is a NON PROFIT, that is NOT TAXED by the government and claims to spend a good portion of its DONATIONS that people GENEROUSLY give it to benefit the hungry, homeless, and those in need. A FOR PROFIT, is a secular organization which is taxed and SELLS goods and services with the INTENT of profit and makes it CLEARLY known to its customers BEFOREHAND. You complain about not making money like a CEO, but you don’t mind not being taxed like one, right?

          • Todd Z says

            You are “working” for God when you contribute to society in any positive way be it surgeon or sanitation worker. In that respect a pastor is no different than any other human being striving to use their God given gift to make a positive impact on the world in which we live. It is not what we do that determines if we are working for God it is how we do it – are we moving through our day in a way that reflects the values taught by Jesus. I am confused by those who would rather see a pastor hold a second job to provide for his financial needs than be fully focused on helping others come to a true understanding of Christ and what he lived and died for. There is no piety in poverty and a good pastor should be free from financial worry as should anyone who works hard to contribute. I guess at the end of the day I would rather see an honest pastor living in the lap of luxury than watching those that do nothing to contribute to the spiritual well being of our world do so. (maybe we would see more young people look up to their pastor rather than the poorly behaved, highly paid reality TV star of the moment)

      • Lou says

        I’m curious, where does Matthew 10:8 speak of pay and compensation for Pastoring? The verse talks about healing and raising the dead and casting out demons, God speaks of nothing concerning the regular duties of Pastoring i.e. Preaching, counseling etc.

      • says

        Good thoughts and all the pastors I know including my husband do teach for free just as a lay person does. They teach Bible study groups, Discipleship classes, etc., that they are not required by their job to teach. The pastors I know have chosen this vocation because of their passion for the Biblical message and they tend to take on more than their job requires to fulfill the mandate the sense from the God they serve. I’m thankful that the church has compensated our family for the administrative duties that are also required in a church. I work as a pastor’s wife for free for many hours each week and I love it. My children have also helped by serving for free too, helping with VBS, running errands, childcare as they got older and etc.

        • Garth says

          Hello Brenda,

          A distinction in the ‘church’ today that is prevalent is this idea that there is the laity and the clergy. However, this distinction appears no where in scripture or early church life and only polarizes Christians. A church would do well to have everyone understand that when they meet together in the church, it is for the edification of all by all. This will not happen when distinctions like ‘laity’ and ‘clergy’ exist.

      • Richard Bergstrom says

        I am amazed and astounded that so many of you Christians are so misinformed and cheap and uneducated about Gods worth about tithing. You all act as if the money you earn is your money when in fact, everything that you have is from God and belongs to God. To not pay a pastor is beyond belief and complete foolishness. If any member of my church made that comment to me I would recommend that they find another church. People who expect to have the pastor work for free probably know very little about tithing and generous giving. You, when you die, hopefully have the opportunity to kneel before Jesus and then you will have to explain why you squandered and buried your 1 talent in the field. I am not a pastor. I am a self employed business man and I have also worked in the corporate world for 23 years. I am a deacon of our church and I am on the financial committee. Rick Warren, who is a pastor, tithes 90% of his income to the church? How much do you tithe? Remember, its not your money, its Gods money. I am praying that God softens those who’s hearts have been hardened about what it means to give generously.

      • Amy says

        I believe you are taking these scripture verses out of context. Others have been quoted that contradict what you are saying. Many pastors DO work a secular job because they aren’t compensated enough to support their families and it only serves to take them away from their families. Show me one place in the Bible that specifically shows a priest not being compensated in some way, according to God, for the work God ordains them to do.

    • says

      When I was a child the church I went to the pastor wasn’t paid at all. He had his every day job – just like most people. We had share a dish dinners throughout the week to seek counsel of worship and feed the congregation! The tides and offerings paid for the building/utilities and that was it! Providing doesn’t necessarily mean money tho. Can mean a lot of different things!

      • Michaela says

        This is awesome! It is sad that most pastors now are seeking money and light work. This goes to say that it can be accomplished by volunteers.

    • Ryan says

      It’s supposed to be a struggle to share the gospel with others. You aren’t supposed to live the high life as a pastor. Read your Bible again.

      • Willa says

        That is truly the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time. Yes, it is a struggle to share the gospel with others. The Bible does not say that a person has to struggle financially to share the gospel. Please, you read your Bible. Be good to everyone, especially to those in the Household of Faith. And muzzle not the ox…….My goodness. Hey, tell me why a pastor would have to live any lower than his members. Come on now. Give that some more thought. I am not saying that a pastor has to live high on the hog; but how can a pastor tell of the goodness of the Lord and how the Lord will open up windows of blessings where we would not have room enough to receive if He can’t even take his family out to dinner or buy his family a decent car to get around in, or send his children to a movie every now and then. Give me a break. A Pastor is a human being who needs to be compensated like the rest of us and his compensation package should not be thought of as salary. I am teacher and my health and death benefits are not part of my salary. If a Pastor is getting free living ….like a parsonage that the church is paying for, then that should be considered. He/she could afford to make at least 6 to 7 thousand dollars less a year if his/her housing is FREE. That is utilities and rent free. THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY.

        • Maurice says

          Willa, this is one of The best statements in this blog. Our pastors should be compensated. I don’t want my pastor working a 9-5 all week. I want him focusing on The Word and further strengthening his annointance throughout the week to uplift the congregation and community. Personally I see nothing wrong with preachers living in much abundance and wealth if that’s what the church has allocated to them. They should except gracefully The Lord’s blessings as long as of course they’re not embezzling church money that wasn’t paid to them.

          • Marje says

            Most dedicated pastors work well beyond a 40 hour work week; the 9-5, M-F work schedule isn’t heard of in most pastor’s families!

        • destinycampbell says

          You’re right. A Pastor should be able to financially support himself. That’s why he should get a day job like all the other Members of the CHURCH. The church is the BODY OF CHRIST. We ARE ALL vital to the church and ALL are called to labor for the Kingdom so why does one member think he/she is so much more entitled than all the rest. Besides, I’ve seen members put in just as much work or more than a Pastor and not get paid a dime in return. If a Pastor desires more than what the congregation gives him, get a second JOB and stop being a burden to the church. We ALL work for the same kingdom, sheesh.

          • mss says

            Fine. Next time one of your family members is sick and in the hospital and you want someone to visit at the drop of a hat at any time of the day or night, you call one of those people. Or you need someone to perform a funeral. Or to counsel you through a crisis. Or to do the hundreds of tasks that require PROFESSIONAL TRAINING!!! See how that works out for you and your “volunteer pastor.” You have no idea how many hours your pastor puts in, because most of it is done quietly, confidentially, and behind the scenes.

            Another point: Are we all not called to live our lives and do our jobs for the Kingdom of God? By your logic, none of us should be paid. So enjoy life on the commune.

          • David A Booth says

            I am simply astonished at the number of comments on this post which suggest that pastors should not be paid or that argue one way or another entirely on the basis of pragmatic arguments.

            Jesus, through the Apostle Paul, commanded that pastors be paid – in fact that they should “get their living”:

            “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13-14 ESV).”

            Failure to do what the LORD commands doesn’t simply reflect a different point of view – it is crass disobedience to Christ’s command. The only appropriate response for those arguing against what the LORD commands is repentance.

          • destiny says

            You can’t compare Jesus’ three year trek or Paul’s starting Christian churches throughout various regions of the middle east and africa to the duties of a LOCAL pastor. They HAD to give up their secular because they were traveling all over. Jesus’ mission was very unique in that he had to tell people why came to Earth before his crucifixion and Paul and the disciples had the arduous task of developing the worlds first Christian churches which involved extensive travel and sacrafice that goes far beyond what most local American pastors have to commit. The help that local pastors get today with air conditioned church buildings and staff would be considered a luxury back then. Besides a PASTOR is not the same as an APOSTLE. They have very different responsibilities. Since a pastor is sheparding a local group of Christians, there is no reason that he/she or their spouses can’t maintain a steady job, especially when they have able bodied church members who can pick up the slack and SHOULD be doing just that

          • destiny says

            There lies the problem. The Pastor was NEVER intended to be the only person to go visit the sick, provide counseling, teach the youth, do administrative work, etc. I don’t NEED a pastor to visit me in the hospital if I’m sick. There are PLENTY of God fearing Christians like my mother and OTHER members from my church who can and WILL come visit me without expecting a DIME in return. It’s the LOVE OF GOD that is supposed to motivate us to do these things not some pay day! If you give me some advice as a spiritual confidant then get mad if I don’t pay you a salary, then I would prefer you give me no advice at all. There is someone else who loves the Lord who can encourage me with PURE intentions. I sure don’t ask my fellow bros and sisters in Christ to pay me every time they come with a problem.
            The truth is, no one man or woman can effectively Pastor several hundred people all at once. More than likely, if I’m in a jam, one of my family members or a particular church member that I may be friends with is more than likely gonna be there faster than any pastor would. Remember a Pastor was never intended to be the head of the church. In the New Testament, the title is listed as one of MANY that operate in the church. If a pastor wants to take on more than he can chew that is on HIM. He doesn’t have to.

      • Michaela says

        Pastors should be hard workers. It is possible for them to have a job during the week to take care of their finances and still volunteer minister.

        • mss says

          You try working a full-time job and then a “volunteer” job that requires 60-80 hours a week. Let us all know how that goes. And will the employer of your paid job understand when you have to leave unexpected because one of your church members has an emergency, or because you have to do a funeral? How about your co-workers? And don’t say that you can schedule things around your paid job, because a pastor’s work can’t always be scheduled. When it’s your loved one who is sick or dying or in crisis, would you accept “I’ll be there after I’m done at the job they pay me for”?

          • Micah Burke says

            The common misconception seems to be that pastors only preach on Sunday. The fact is that pastors visit the sick, often take care of church business, actively study for preaching of the Word and teaching Bible study. Some even mow the church lawns and take care of maintenance. The more time and support the pastor has to do the work of the ministry without having to worry about their daily needs, the better.

            1 Corinthians 9:7,14
            Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
            In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

            1 Tim 5:18
            For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

          • destinycampbell says

            Is that in the job description of a Pastor to do all that? Is there only supposed to be ONE person responsible for visiting the sick and shut in? NO! We are ALL supposed to do that! It’s what the BODY of CHRIST is supposed to do. The problem is, Pastors don’t believe in allowing EVERYONE to utilize their giftings in church and think they can do EVERYTHING. The church was never structured to have ONE leader but MULTIPLE Elders, PastorS, Teachers, etc helping. Also, many Americans CHRISTIANS work well over 40 hours a week AND are called to ALSO labor in the church AS WELL but they get paid NOTHING for that labor so what is your point. The misconception here is that Pastors are the only ones who labor in the church and are responsible for everything when they are NOT. In fact, many PAstors don’t even participate in the more labouraous tasks like cooking meals for the homeless, cleaning the church building, watching kids during church service, etc that other members READILY participate in without getting paid a DIME. You’re not the only ones laboring for Christ Pastors!

      • lawanda brown says

        YOU show me in the bible were God said you should live the low life because we both reading something different. Am a pastor wife am so tired of people who love to say what a pastor family should live .The same people in the church that you can’t get to help in the church go to visit the sick just raise HELL all the time. It’s funny that anyone else can live in a nice house the member but you think the pastor should like in a box. The same people when some thing happen won’t the pastor their when some dye or a car accident. Or need the pastor to marry them. People fill the pastor family should be ok with that. GET A LIFE!!!!

        • destiny says

          Pastors can make as much money as they want. I won’t judge them. Just don’t ask ME to pay for the life you want. Get a job just like everyone else.

    • R Basden says

      This has been a huge struggle for me. I have worked for a non-dom for 14 yrs after spending an equal amount or more in the secular world in a HR capacity dealing with salaries, benefits, corporate issues, etc. After hearing about “biblical world views”, the intrusiveness of the government onto the workings of the church and watching not only a body of believers but a senior pastor as well be negatively impacted by the influence of money, here are my conclusions: A pastor should never be the sole decision maker regarding finances of any kind. A compensation package includes a fair wage and a fair level of expense reimbursement. There is a huge difference between the needs and wants of an individual when talking about the tools of their profession. The primary responsibility of the church are the sheep not the shepard. When taking care of the shepard negatively impacts the ability of the church to care for the sheep something is grossly errant. Balance is vital.

  1. Pastor Etta christon says

    God say he will supply your every need according to his riches in Glory, he also say in the word that he never seen the righteous forsaken nor his SEED begging bread.

    • Steve Pyfrom says


      This is entirely true, as you mention Phil. 4:19 and Psalm 37:25-26, that God does provide for the needs of his people, and that in all of David’s years as King of Israel, he never saw anyone in need of begging. However, this doesn’t negate the responsibility for God’s people to give faithfully, so that others (including pastoral staff) can receive a fair wage. Most pastors don’t get paid enough, and especially for being on-call 24-7. My feeling is that we can’t just keep quoting verses about God providing and forgetting that we are the body of Christ, through which Christ does his work.

      • Jarron C Oneal says

        In addition we need to us All Scripture for our doctrine on paying the Pastor. This subject is clearly discussed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14 and Galatians 6:6

        • Who Do You Serve? says

          What did Jesus say? (Matthew 10:7-8)
          Do you believe Jesus, or do you believe Paul?

          What did Jesus say? (Matthew 10:8)
          Do you believe Jesus, or do you believe Paul?

          • anonymous says

            Was Jesus giving instructions specifically about teaching elders, or was Paul? Jesus and the disciples were a one-time deal. Paul was giving specific instructions about under-shepherds.

    • says

      Etta, Can you then explain for me the countless Christians who live in poverty. Are they not righteous, are only the wealthy righteous, and if so why did Jesus come as an impoverished peasant instead of a wealthy land owner?

      • Mikah says

        The Messiah did not come as an impoverished peasant!!! Mary’s father was a priest and she was dedicated to temple service as the first born. When the visiting Kings gave gifts to the Infant there was enough gold to sustain them even after Joseph’s death.

          • Michaela says

            I agree. The pastors in my area all live lavishly. More lavishly than the people I know working 60 hours a week. I personally know some of them and it is not a 24/7 job.

          • Richard sands says

            I feel like I’m coming in the middle of a conversation.. :) We have a change of Pastors..The new pastor has stated his salary will by $$$. Since that (sermon) that is all that is talked about at Sunday service.. Unfortunately, at this time he is not the caliber of our last pastor. Her salary (well earned) could be seen in her work ethnic. Visiting the sick, taking care of the poor, mission work in Mexico and extremely busy with church programs…most of which were targeted at raising money. I believe the new pastor see the old programs and feels that “the work has been done” when in reality the work has just began. Our church is dying!

  2. Dennis Waldrop says

    Unfortunately, that’s why I am not actively pursuing a pastoral position right now. I am made to feel guilty for expecting a certain salary…I am told I need to exercise faith. Yet no other profession is told that. It is sad really.

    • Eric Luedtke says

      Dennis, that argument can blow both ways … ask the congregation why they aren’t exercising faith that they can compensate a pastor fairly.

    • Matt Svoboda says


      No other profession is paid by a church either.

      My point is churches SHOULD approach salaries different than business. Pastors should approach salaries different than CEOs as well.

      If a pastor would not be willing to serve as pastor for free they should not be pastors, assuming their families were taken care of some other way. Our desire, like Pauls, should be to be able to work for free, despite having the right to be paid. 1 Cor. 9.

      • John Kreiner says

        In I Corinthians 9, Paul is referring to a particular situation, though he makes universal application, though the application is not that pastors should work for free. I Cor. 9:14 makes this clear. Paul’s desire was not to be a burden to the Corinthian church for certain reasons. He did not make this request of all the churches he worked for. In fact, he did not ultimately work at the Corinthian church for free, as in II Corinthians 11:8, he said “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.” I don’t know if Paul solicited this help or if it was offered to him, but in any case he took it. Other chuches made up for the absence of support from the Corinthians. A pastor should be willing to work for free in special situations, but if a pastor has a family, then the pastor has a Biblical responsibility to support that family too that has to be weighed. .

        • says

          He should support his family for certain. What is far less certain is that able bodied men should depend on the local church to pay them a permanent salary and benefits. We so often hear Paul quoted in 1 Cor 9 but it is pretty obvious that his focus was on not getting paid because that was an obstacle to the Gospel. Also worth noting, Paul was not a full time clerical employee for a particular local church but a itinerant preacher/missionary. We have taken a completely different situation and applied it to professional clergy when there is little to support that claim.

        • Matt Svoboda says


          Just to be clear. I didnt say Paul was telling us to work for free in 1 Corinthians 9. What I am arguing is that if our hearts arent even in a place that we would pastor without pay we should not be pastors.

          My point is- as all things- this is an issue of the heart.

          Im definitely not stating pastors have an obligation to reject money from the church they serve while their family suffers.

          • harrison says

            If all believers’ paths are directing by God, if He has “called” you to be a lawyer, banker, teacher, etc; should you then be willing to work that position for free? I have been fulltime in a church for free and for compensation. My wife has never been compensated though many think she should be just as available as me. To obey is better than sacrifice, the question may be, “What has God called you to do, and what level of faith and grace has He directed you to exercise to accomplish His calling?” Many professionals take less paying jobs to “serve” the community in obedience to God or to reserve the necessary time to “ministry” God has called them to. Great conversation!

          • Mike says

            How many times have u worked for free in your life? many people think that pastoring is just a TITLE and of which it is one of the most demanding and even difficult job. The Bible clearly states that a workman is worthy of his labour it is only in the Church that I see people trying to ague salaries especially pastor’s salary. I am not a pastor but this is very unfair and selfish it should not even be a discussion if pastors should not be paid then no other Job on earth is even also worthy of payment. If you don’t think pastors should be paid then try and be one yourself and taste how it feels!

      • Desi Goldsmith says

        Dear Matt

        What is it like living in the kingdom of neverneverland with Peter Pan. The fairies, the munchkins, etc! That was a very condescending post. If you are indeed a pastor and pastor freely not knowing where your next meal will be or where you will rest, I pity you. If you have a family I pity them even more.

        • Matt Svoboda says


          I sure think it would be fun to get to live there… even if it was just for a weekend.

          You missed my point. I am a pastor, I receive a salary. While I could understand someone feeling pity for my family, that would probably have more to do with my personality than how I deal with finances. :)

          My point was that this is an issue of the heart. Im not sure how people missed that when I said, “Our desire, like Pauls, should be to be able to work for free despite having the right to be paid.” People, including yourself, responded as if I said, “Pastors should never receive money from the church, even if that means their family suffers horribly and is on the brink of death!”

          I hope your family has a great Christmas.

        • Lazdinger says

          You completely misunderstood the gentleman’s post. If you are going to disagree with a statement, atleast characterize it properly. I had to read his post carefully a couple of times before I understood what he was saying. Read with a level head and at least ask questions before you come to an oversimplified conclusion about someone’s statement. Speaking of condescending:
          “What’s it like to live in neverneverland…etc!!”?? C’mon… I think you’re better than that.

        • Emmanuel says

          The bible made us understand that if a man can not provide for his household he is worse than an infidel. Should a pastor be considered an infidel? Men of God are men before they were men of God, they are not spirits. They need money to cater for their immediate family needs. Remember he that works on the altar also live by that same altar.

      • Paul Baker says

        Whoa my friend, the church IS a business. Just ask the IRS. They look at churches as businesses and they look at the Pastors as the leading administrator, i.e., CEO. When interviewing for a pastoring position, the candidate has every right to insist on a livable wage to be reviewed every 90-120 days. If the pastor merits a raise, THEN GIVE IT TO HIM. How stingy we have become with God’s money in compensating God’s leaders in the local church. Shame on us!

      • Julie says

        As far as Pastors having the heart to be Pastors if they got paid for it or not goes for everyone who has a job/profession they feel called to do. Why to people say this about Pastors only and not other professions. I get so sick of this and how this is blown out of context and how Pastors are different than anyone else who works a job. People feel called to their jobs just like Pastors feel called to be Pastors. I’ve seen Elders not pay their pastors what the Pastor deserves because the Elders say they work hard and they don’t get paid what the Pastor would get paid. That is so selfish!! Living the life of a Pastor is VERY HARD WORK and is the 3rd most stressful position next to being a Doctor….especially with all the expectations put on them in the American Church. Church boards want their Pastors to ‘do it all’ but don’t want to pay them for all the work theyre expected to do. That is detestable!! Is it any wonder Pastors get so burned out and ‘fall’ as they do. The church leaders need to take responsibility for how they treat their Pastors – and own their part. They chew them up and spit them out …. this is the Church?? Who wants to be a part of that??

        • Darren says

          I believe that the majority of pastors in the US live on modest salaries when you count the associate and youth pastors. Senior pastors, In every church I’ve ever been part of, tend to make pretty good bank. Our SBC church of appoximately 450 just sent out a proposed budjet for the year. The associate pastor, youth pastor and music ministers’ salaries were in the the neighborhood of 45 K plus 7 K more of benefits. The senior pastor is getting 55 K with 30 K in housing allotment (which goes to his private home loan) and an additional 30 K in a category called benefits. The senior pastor’s salary alone is 18 % of the total money that will be collected. The average household (with two wage earners) in our area is 45 – 60 K. The associate pastor has 5 kids too while the senior pastor has 2 kids. (note: the salaries and benefits of church staff is 60% of 770,000 total in giving. An additional 30 k is allotted to pastor travel expenses in a separate category)

          I have a difficult time when I think that a pastor is near the top of the wage earners of his entire congregation when he lives off of the tithes and offerings of the people. It is this sort of greed that is going to be the downfall of the church and it reminds me of Eli’s sons who abused the people’s offerings by taking the choicest cuts for themselves.

          In my opinion, a pastor should not make head and shoulders above the people that are sacrificially giving to the church. Also, the church should look at need. If a pastor has no children, then maybe they get less; if many children, then more. I hate it that many churches are run like a senior pastor’s family business.

          • David A Booth says

            Dear Darren,

            As a pastor I fully agree with you that a pastor should not make “head and shoulders above the people who are sacrificially giving to the church.” From my experience, your church is actually an anomaly. Normally a pastor is paid meaningfully less than what other men of his age, education, and experience are making in the church where he serves. Of the churches that I know well, I cannot think of a single instance where the pastor has a higher salary than that of the Elders or Deacons in his church. This may be different in very large churches as I am mostly familiar with churches with less than 200 members.

            I suspect you live in a relatively poor part of the country, because in many parts of the country $85k per year is a comfortable, but not a particularly lavish, salary. Where I live, Assistant Principles make $10k+ per year more than that and they have a lot more time off per year than a typical pastor does.

            Often the issue of pastoral salaries is simply ignored in a local church. I would encourage you to talk with the Elders or Deacons in your congregation and ask them (with humility) to explain how they developed the budget and whether they have any benchmarks for how they are determining pastor’s salaries in light of community living standards.

            Let me add that trying to pay pastors based on need is a hopelessly tricky issue (unless your pastor tells you that he doesn’t need so much money). Financial need goes way beyond counting up the number of children a man has. If the church is able to do so, it is wiser to set pastoral compensation according to community standards.

            In Christ,


          • Darren says


            Thanks for your response. I have a couple observations that I would like to try to get feedback on: 1. Since becoming a Christian, I have been part of the PCA and SBC communities. The PCA in St. Louis area where we live is pretty much located in the more affluent areas and draws a lot of wealthy christians into their churches. The pastors that are part of the St. Louis area PCA are very well paid, but they are not making excessively more than their flock. Their flock is made up of CEOs, doctors, lawyers – basically white collar types. The PCA church where I attended in the early 2000s had their share of millionaires and even one couple who are on the Forbes 500 list. The senior pastor made around 150 K per year. The youth, associate and evagelism pastors made 50 K / year plus the church basically bought their houses for them. Plus they got some sweet benefits like having the church paying for their children’s tuition to private christian school K-12 and also pick up a big portion of their childrens’ college tuition at the denomination’s college – covenant college. (Many of these school benefits have since been cut).

            2. When we moved South of St. Louis to a poorer area, we began going to an SBC church. The staff is definitely not paid as well. Like I said in previous post, the senior pastor makes a pretty decent living while the other pastors either struggle or their wives are forced to help with income. The senior pastor, in my opinion, makes too much because the average household that is supporting him makes significantly less than he does.

            It seems that churches are in competition with each other to attract ‘talent.’ The most talented preachers are drawn to the most affluent areas. The PCA pastors were definitely several calibers better communicators and likely more advanced in their theological understanding than the pastors in the less affluent area.

            In my opinion, this is how capitalism has effected the church. Churches are in direct competition with each other to land the best senior pastor. And to land the talent, a church has to pay. In the case of the SBC church I mentioned, they pay the senior pastor more than double the other pastors. And they even had to agree to pay him to the point that he is likely in the top 1% of wage earners in his congregation. Probably if they didn’t pay him this amount, the pastor would likely feel the Lord’s calling elsewhere. And I suppose that the SBC church then hopes that their talent will influence church growth.

            I think that capitalism (and I believe in capitalism as a economic driving force) drives our churches much more than we want to admit. I would guess that salary and benefits are a big factor in a pastor’s ‘calling.’

          • David A Booth says


            You are undoubtedly correct that there is a type of capitalism at work in terms of affluent churches calling pastors from smaller or poorer congregations. As one of my professors used to say: “I’ve noticed that when the LORD ‘leads” a pastor to move to another church it is usually to a church that pays better.” It is hard to see how this model fits with God’s word.

            One idea that I have run by Elders and Pastors is that we should establish a flat salary for all pastors in our denomination and make adjustments only for housing allowances. If the purpose of pastoral compensation is to relieve the ministry “from all worldly cares” then this amount doesn’t change based upon whether he is serving a small or a large congregation or whether he is the youth or senior pastor. Affluent churches would therefore need to subsidize the compensation pastors are receiving at poorer or smaller congregations. I confess that this may not be a very good idea because literally nobody has ever agreed with my suggestion. On the other hand, I mostly hear people complaining about the current situation without offering any alternatives.

            Let me add one point in defense of pastors: When a young man comes out of seminary seeking a call he is routinely confronted by churches who are looking for “someone with an M.Div and 5 years experience.” When such a man goes to a small church that can’t afford to pay him a livable wage and then moves on to a better paying call five years later we should remember that this young man didn’t create the system – we did (by “we” I mean middle age Christians like myself).

            If we are not willing to change the current system we shouldn’t expect different results.

            In Christ,


          • Darren says


            I like your idea. A seminary friend of mine who felt called to be a pastor in a small town actually shared that idea with me several years ago too. He actually got a call from a church in a town with a population of about 2000 people shortly after he graduated. I lost track of him for awhile and then found out through the internet that he was no longer serving in the church in the town. He had moved to a pastorate in a much larger city. I figure he started a family and couldn’t provide for their needs in the smaller church.

            What a wonderful thing that the church could do in fulfilling the great commission and reaching rural people if the church body subsidized pastors in areas that can not support their pastor.

            It is hard to judge a pastor for taking a more lucrative position though. Most lay christians make job choices largely based on compensation. It just sort of feels wrong when we see our spiritual leaders doing that too. Also, I think I heard that John Piper, Baptist pastor in Minnesota, does not take a salary from his church’s sacrificial giving. I think that he makes money on sale of books and speaking engagements – not that every pastor has that luxury, but it does say something for a man that does not take every dollar that they can.

          • Julia says

            well,in the old days I believe,those who were pastors..had a different view on being Christ’s representative….they actually were serving the Lord first ,over their own desires/comforts..I grew up in a country type SBC and I know salary was never the main issue for my pastors back them..and these men worked harder and under more terrible hardship than pastors today..I believe, ,a pastor should be paid for his dedicated, unselfish work in God’s service and to the church members and community where he ministers on a day to day basis.. and is following the example of Paul and the early apostles / disciples..doing the Lord’s work , having faith in Him to provide… this kind of faith always works for everyone !.No one should get paid just for holding a religious title! ..But,I know some pastors today that will bleed a small poor church dry and never do anything but visit the sick and maybe help out in a program they believe will bring them a pat on the back from big-hearted 76 years old and being a church worker for 40 years ,I learned just because a man(or women)goes by the title of minister does not mean they all have the “church groups” best interest at heart and sometimes their over- all behavior reveals they are not born again believers !!!I know one “preacher”that is just buying time until he can retire and is being paid over half of what this little church takes in, mostly from retirees in Fl…I know God would never approve of this kind of greed and will never bless the mess..sadly today,it is plain to see,many churches are working more under the “world’s” view than under the leadership of the Holy Spirit : (

          • Jeff Woods says

            Ok…The Bible says that the pastor is to be counted worthy of Double Honor but since you so strongly disagree and think a pastor should only make what the congregation is making then lets make that fair and apply scripture concerning the early Church, In the early church EVERY MEMBER sold every thing that they had and redistributed everything among them selves…Do you own a car? Do you own a house? Have you sold all that you own so that everyone in the church is treated fair and equal? Do you require that a doctor who has sacrificed years of his life to go to school and treat peoples physical needs be required, in your church, to give up a substantial part of his pay check so that you can feel like everything is fair in the church? Our Churches are dying today because people will not allow the pastor to be taken care of and because people tell the widow of Zeraphath to not give to the man of God and therefor she is not being blessed, Show me the scriptures that say that you should limit the man of God and cut his salary down? Where?

          • AskBob says

            Darren, Julie, and others

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Most churches don’t know what their staff makes. Seems we are following the American business model, instead of imitating Jesus as he led his disciples. I have seen a senior pastor request raises to the point the church could not afford a youth pastor, and eventually membership started shrinking. I have also seen strong deacon or elder boards drive pastors to exhaustion. And one created a church split by telling the sr pastor he had to allow a board member’s wife to be on staff. Another pastor I know agreed to a salary, then wrote checks to pay for his mortgage and car payments…which was never reviewed by the board or finance committee. So I believe in meeting the needs of those who are chosen to do full-time ministerial work, but with accountability. Too often no one wants to bother with simple checks and balances.

          • David A Booth says

            Dear AskBob,

            One of the amazing things about this article has been the variety of shocking practices it speaks to. I am a pastor of a local church and here are a few suggestions that every church should follow:

            1. The pastor’s entire compensation package should be transparently communicated to the congregation.
            2. The pastor should not be on the compensation committee of the church.
            3. The pastor should not be the Treasurer nor should anyone related to the pastor be able to write checks. This isn’t because pastors aren’t trustworthy but has to do with the appearance of impropriety.

            One suggestion that nobody seems to want to follow would be to index the pastor’s salary to a publicly available compensation package. So instead of saying: “We pay our pastor X amount of money” the church could say: “We pay our pastor like an Assistant Principle of our local High School.

            I can’t imagine a (good reason) why any church would refuse to do these three things.

            Best wishes,


      • says

        I agree that a pastor should never be in the job for the money, but I disagree that it is just not reasonable to expect them to live for free. This is not the era in which they can be self-sufficient farmers or something like in Biblical times. I do not think I would want to see a pastor working a 9 to 5 job 40 hours a week and then trying to maintain the church, as well. That would be unfair to ask of them. People need them at times like at the bedside while a loved one is passing away. How can they give their congregation their all if they are expected to do both. It is only right that they are supported by the congregation so that they can in return be the support the congregation expects of them. Please google Maslow’s heirarchy of needs to understand exactly why it is that we need to have pastors supported. The pyramid shows the order in which needs have to be met to reach the next level up.You will see, at the very bottom is the requirement to be able to do this, and basic physiological needs must be met first, like shelter, safety, food, water, before a person can even consider emotional needs and then having a purpose in life and giving back to others. At the very top is the “self-actualization” category, which means having reached the point in life where one feels like they are completing the duties in life they are meant to acheive, and have given back to society in a way they had anticipated to do so, ect. The person has to have all the layers to be able to reach a level to which they can be there for others. Hence, all these levels must be supported in order for a pastor to fufill the duties of a pastor. This is why we need to support our pastors financially, to allow for their physiological needs to be met so that they can accomplish fufilling our needs.

      • Adam Reynolds says

        Interesting example you use of Paul since Paul was neither a pastor nor did he have a family to support. if a person thinks that a pastor/CEO comparison is not accurate, try it. no CEO is expected to be there in the middle of the night at a moment’s notice for his employees. no CEO has preached over a 6 month old’s funeral, no CEO carries the burden for their congregation that a pastor does. I’m a bi-vocational pastor that has a 50+ hr per week job on top of my pastoral duties. i have more than 2 full-time jobs, and for any person to think all a pastor does is prepare a sermon every Sunday, walk a mile in their shoes for a month. you might have a bit more ‘grace’ful perspective. while a CEO has responsibility over a businesses financial well-being, the pastor has to manage a staff, manage volunteers, nurture the spiritual well-being of his family, his staff, and his congregation (in that order) while balancing the books, keeping up PR, etc… If you need biblical example, Jesus Himself had a treasurer, and His ministry was doing well enough financially to require a treasurer and support a staff of 12 while the treasurer was skimming off the top (Judas).
        Here’s a solution, don’t pay them for being the pastor, but quit expecting duties out of them that go beyond pastoral duty. Or pay them well to be your one-stop CEO, HR manager, financial advisor, janitor, bookkeeper, subcontractor, handyman, plumber, electrician, etc…

        • Tony Taz says

          Wow! As a former truck driver that was away from home over 70 hours a week I still am shocked at the mindset of American ministers. I am always stunned at the business model approach to ministry. Fascinating that the bible likens the church to a body and not a business (incidentally they had businesses back then – but it doesn’t fit what the church is). By the way, I do believe the disciples casting their nets into the sea once to catch fish (probably sport fishing – yeah. And you wonder why hard working men and women feel taken advantage of when they are asked to give up their vacation time to help out at the church while the pastor makes sure his family always has 2-3 weeks of vacation at his convenience. Pastors that fill each others pulpit or do “evangelism” at their buddy’s churches get some golf time and a moonlighting paycheck. Isn’t it incredible that most pastors always liken themselves to business managers or CEO’s but never a blue collar job. They know better. Some of the most physically lazy and non-endearing men I have ever met are pastors. To be fair some of the most hardworking pastors that I have ever met are pastors – clarification – they held another job as well as pastored hmm maybe that was key to the love the people had for them. I have firsthand knowledge of a man in the ministry for over 25 years, quit because he couldn’t handle the “pressure” had to take blue collar job and could only handle it one year and “hurt” himself . Then he, I will say it, “weasled” his way into a desk job at the same company. He was a friend of mine until he started telling me how he treated the “underlings” of which he was one before he got the desk job. Arrogant and bitter. Very sad. Over 10 years later nothing has changed.

          • Dan says

            I grew up in a blue collar family and have held blue collar jobs. I have known of blue collar people who actually took joy in giving the pastor a hard time because they viewed him as management. They actually kept a scorecard. The blue collar people 2, the pastor 0. Their two victories were tallied based off of two pastors dying of a heart attack while serving in office. I do not write this to say that blue collar people are bad. My father is one. My point is that we can both play this game of pointing to horrible examples of the other side in order to make our point. That being said, I do think a good portion of pastors would do themselves and their people a great service if they spent some time in the non Church work force for an extended period of time. Sometimes pastors do think like CEO’s or management. In some ways we must do that in order to efficiently run the church, but I do not EVER want to get to the place where I am so calculating that I am willing to ask someone to work day in and day out for free while paying for an evangelist.
            By the way, I know of pastors and blue collar folks who went to the office for 70 ours a week and only actually worked about 25 hours per week, and I suspect that it wouldn’t take you very long to think of some examples like that as well.

          • destiny says

            But that’s the problem Dan, A pastor is not supposed to RUN the church. WE are the church, and we come together in a church service to worship God and edify EACH OTHER. Pastors need to stay in their lane and stop trying to ‘rule’ everything which the Bible clearly teaches church leaders NOT to do.

    • basti says

      That’s a good poste! People tell Pastors to trust and have faith and to believe for a salary without having a steady one but the same people wouldn’t like the same amount of faith to be asked of them, how come??

      • Mike says

        Nice post! I often wonder why this should even be a subject of discussion and same people will never ever even imagine their lives as a pastor or even working for free. Where in the world do people work for free? That’s how some churches stress their pastors in ministry with this mentality of working for free and expect God to be happy with them and they forget that you can not buy anything in the market for free. How do you expect a pastor to concentrate and be in full time ministry if his financial needs are not meant? A pastor who spends his whole day at work comes back tired and hardly able to have time to study the word of God what would you expect from him and some wonder why they are seeing less manifestations in the Church like they should.

        • destiny says

          Please explain. What does ‘full time’ ministry mean? The last time I checked ALL Christians are required to be on ‘full time’ ministry whether they’re on the job or at the church. In fact, ministry occurs most often OUTSIDE the church walls. You can minister to people anywhere you go. Besides, I’m pretty sure the praise and worship leader, Elders, and prayer team get tired when they come home from work and someone is calling them in for requests. You’re not the only one working in the church you know.

    • Ellen says

      I don’t believe that pastors should have to live in extreme poverty, but I do feel that some pastors, particularly in some of the mega churches are getting lavish salaries (more than I will ever see). I myself know what it is like to have to struggle, and I thank God that I am now back on my feet, If pastors should get a salary, it shouldn’t be much above I guess what they call poverty line income where you are earning above that. I realize that a lot of pastors have families, but they should be able and willing to make some sacrifices like making their children understand that they need to share certain things, and that some things will be handed down when the older child outgrows it. In the end the question that ought to be asked is “If a pastor should not be expected to live in poverty, then why should any of the members of the church be expected to if they are expected to pay a tithe every week?” I doubt that in any church that members of a congregation know what the other members go through in their everyday life, or what they have to do without. I imagine that some might know, but it at times comes from prodding and poking “your” nose in other people’s business. Don’t assume that every member in a church is financially secure or can afford to make constant sacrifices.

  3. Rebecca McBrayer says

    Dr. Rainer, My husband is blessed to serve to serve as Associate Pastor in a church that manages its money very well. We have been here three years and each year, they have given him a raise, without us asking for one. The past two years they have also given the Senior Pastor a raise. This year at our annual business meeting, one of our church members was concerned because the pastor was not getting a raise. Discussion ensued and revealed that the pastor had requested that he not get a raise, feeling that he did not need one. I appreciate the article you have written here and I am thankful that our church already follows these guidelines. We should pray that churches will realize just how much their pastors do for them, and compensate them accordingly.

    • Ken says

      I am a “part-time pastor, which means nothing. I pastor 2 churches and my salary is less than my custodians. Vacation? I have been here 2 years and have not had one however, I do get bugged by one of the committees to take a vacation as long as it is not over a weekend. Actually the pay is not a big deal and as I have said, “I get paid for something that I would probably do for free.” But, then there are additional expenses because the church I serve are a distance from my home and they want me in the office 6 days a week. I was told by finance that they want me to account for 20 hours a week. So far the least I have recorded is 52.5 hours and this doesn’t include prep time for Sunday. The chair of the S/PPRC stopped in last week and asked me if I was happy with what they were giving me. I told them I was fine. Then they told me that they are increasing the pay package for both the custodian and secretary. I’m not sure how I should handle that. Most likely I’ll just let it pass. I know what the churches budget is and know that they are struggling at times. And as an after thought, I make less then any member of either of my congregations. (One church only gives me a small housing allowance of less than $200.) Am I happy where I am? Yes. Do I love and appreciate the congregants? Yes. Will I keep doing it? Yes, as long as I am able.

      • David A Booth says

        Dear Ken,

        From your comments you seem unhappy with the fact that you are making less than the custodians, but you are communicating to the church that you are doing fine financially. I would encourage you to be more straightforward in communicating with whoever is responsible for the budget of your church.

        If things are fine, then there is no reason to complain on a blog. If things aren’t fine, then you ought to speak up.

        Best wishes,


  4. Jason says

    Dr. Rainer, thank you for this timely article. I am a staff member at a church that called two new full-time staff members two weeks apart, increasing the total number of FT staff members from 1 to 3 (including the senior pastor). The church knew that this would require a significant increase in giving. Eighteen months later, the giving has increased slightly, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of the additional salary and pay packages, without signficantly reducing the budgets of most of our ministries, including CP giving. The stewardship committee is willing to cut whatever it takes in order to avoid reducing our salaries, but I am struggling with the fact that most of the ministries will lose signficant funds just to pay my salary. I am praying about what I should do about this situation, and your article was personally very helpful to me. Thank you for your ministry!

    • Tony Taz says

      Pastors generally have no problem at all paying staff at less than standard rates. I have seen secretaries, christian school teachers, custodians, given verbal praise from the pulpit, but know that the pastor never advocated a pay increase when he met with the board.
      The worst I ever encountered was a pastor that had a part time secretary. The church could know longer afford to pay her so he convinced her to “volunteer” her time. She did so until….until the pastor called an impromptu business meeting to see if the church should contribute money to an outside request. It was advised by the pastor to turn down the request because the church could not afford it. One of the men asked how we were going to afford to pay the “evangelist” (the pastor’s college friend) that was coming the next month. The pastor replied oh, that was budgeted in at the beginning of the year. I’ll never forget the look on the face of the husband of the woman who was now volunteering her time as church secretary because there was no money to pay her. Does it surprise anyone that the family left the church within a year of that time. Pastors are there worst enemies. There are valid reasons that congregations have trust issues with pastors and it isn’t always selfishness. By the way “double honor” is for those that “rule well” there is a qualification.

      • mss says

        I am sorry for this church’s secretary. My husband has seen first hand what a wonderful secretary can do for a church and how a poor secretary can kill a church. He never misses and opportunity to praise his secretary both privately and publicly, including advocating for her salary. A good church secretary is worth his/her weight in gold, and we are thankful every day that we have one of these now.

    • destiny says

      So Jason, you’re telling me that you would rather cut back on ministries than give up the two staff members you’re trying to provide salaries and pay packages for? Isn’t the purpose of a church gathering to fellowship, edify, and minister to each other? You may need to re adjust your priorities.

  5. David F says

    It should be noted that while Paul told Timothy that Elders deserved compensation, Paul himself was bi-vocational. There is little reason that Pastors cannot share enough of their responsibility with other Elders in order to work. Indeed in this way Pastors would be even more able to relate to their congregation. As it is, we have made the Pastor the CEO of a body of believers.

    • John Kreiner says

      I Cor. 9:13-14 says “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?” In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”Were the people in the temple service bi-vocational? I think this indicates that bi-vocationality is not to be a default expectation of pastors. And of course, Paul apparently was also single during his ministry outlined in Acts and the Epistles. If a pastor is married with children, the pastor is already the equivalent of being bi-vocational, at least.

      • David F says

        It is possible that those verses are taken out of context. What is the main thrust of Paul’s argument here? Is it about compensation? Listen to the following verses,

        “Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge. 16 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! 17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. 18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.”

        I think more is going on than a simple argument for pastors making their income through the church. I believe that Scripture’s truths should be applied universally, that is, they are true all the time, if they are in fact true. With this in mind, we are speaking about Pastor’s compensation within the context of Western America. Can these verses be reasonably applied to most other culture’s that are different from the American church model?

        I don’t think there is a “default” form of income for people in ministry. The examples in the New Testament are way to diverse to pin it down to that.

      • Jarron C Oneal says

        Author, while much of what your saying is true we cannot deny the kingdom principles that are being used as illustration by paul in this text. No one tend a flock and not during the milk, no one goes to war on his own dime, and who plants a vineyard and doesn’t eat the grapes are biblical principles from old to new testament and are try regardkles f whether Paul was full time , part time or Itinerate. He had every right to part take of the proceeds of the gospel. Paul’s particular assignment in this case he for went his right so that the gospel would not be hindered do to his audience being former pagan worshipers and the rogue visitors who came to question and attack his integrity which is why this letter is written in reponse to accusations . However you and I dont have the same assignment as Paul so those rights we do not have to give up. Jesus was taken care of by those he ministerd to Luke 8:1-3 , 1 tim 5:17 say pay the teachers double honor which 2 times the highest prevailing wage. Jesus told his disciples not take their wallets because their needs should be met by those they ministered too. I know I have ministered and refused payment because the holy spirit prompted me not to take it. Other times where I gladly received. And sometimes where I was flat out robbed. Paul called what he was doing for the church at Corinth robbery. Let not get Pauls speceific assignment confused with Kingdom principles. He gave up a lot of rights including the one to have a believing wife I don’t know about you but I’m not giving that one up either. Lol

  6. S Files says

    Dr. Rainer,
    I am curious for a little clarification on #2. When you comment about seeking the “mean income is for families in the church, and use that as a basis for compensation for the pastor” what are your thoughts about the pastor’s wife and her income situation? I ask because it has come up in our own business meetings when discussing my husband’s salary. It was asked what income I brought to the family (which at the time was none. I was staying home with 3 elementary aged sons.) I just have never truly understood the thought process behind that question, but it was definitely used as a basis for his salary.

    • Thom Rainer says

      S –

      Shame on any church that inquires about the spouse’s income. The church should pay the pastor fairly without delving into personal matters of his family. Your income should have no bearing on his salary.

      • S Files says

        Thank you, Dr. Rainer, I don’t want to bring shame to them, but being our first post-Seminary position their idea almost had merit. As painful as it was, we decided the best course of action was for me to take a part time job to supplement his income. 2 of our boys are now in middle school and are responsible enough to help out around the house and with their younger brother.

        Anyway, thank you again, I just wanted to make sure that my initial reactions weren’t selfishly and arrogantly motivated. I want to respond with care and compassion always.

      • Blessed Pastor says

        I have to remain anonymous in this post, mostly to protect the guilty.

        After my wife and I had our second child, we decided she would not go back to work. I petitioned the Church Council to find out if the church could, feasibly, pay for my wife’s insurance. They consulted with the Finance Committee, who said it was feasible. Three months later, when we accepted a call to another church, we still had no answer from the Church Council.

        Bottom line was this: I’ve never asked for a “raise” in my life, but we knew we couldn’t feed our family if those insurance premiums had to come out of our pocket.

        Here’s the really sad part: behind closed doors, it was said, “That girl didn’t have to quit working. That was their choice.” The wife’s income, or lack thereof, should have no bearing whatsoever on what a church pays a pastor. Furthermore, it’s a short step from, “She didn’t have to quit working,” to “They didn’t have to have that second child.”

        Dr. Rainer, I agree with you wholeheartedly. “Shame on any church that inquires about the spouse’s income. The church should pay the pastor fairly without delving into personal matters of his family.” Regrettably, many churches do.

        • says

          Most pastors relate well to your situation. Unfortunately, my own experience has proven that churches get by for as little as they can. 20% of the people pay 80% of the bills…I guess if I was in that 20% I might be reluctant to commit to extra bills because in the end I will be paying the bills. This situation will never change. I urge all pastoral candidates to think this through with their spouse before committing to full time ministry. YOU, not the church, are responsible for taking care of your family. It’s that way if you work for Wal-mart or the church. Don’t make the church the scapegoat any more than you make your secular employer the scapegoat. The ultimate responsibility rests with you. PLAN AHEAD! What solutions are in your control? Remember: part-time pastoring pays better than full-time, especially if you have a decent pay package with your secular employer. The ministry may not be as good…but then again, maybe the church relies too much on you as a full-time minister. I was better able to financially protect my family as a part-time pastor than a full-time pastor. Hope this helps.

          • Blessed Pastor says

            There was–as is always the case–much more going on than I was able to or needed to share. I was seriously considering going bi-vo, which is what I would have done if the Lord had not chosen to move us. In the end, it all worked out for the best.

            My simple point is that (a) they never should have considered my wife’s income when developing a pay package for me and that (b) the comments regarding our decision for her not to go back to work were hurtful and absolutely, positively uncalled for.

          • Dan Kitinoja says

            Brother, I totally appreciate your situation. As a youth pastor, things worked out just fine for my wife and I before we had our first child. My wife became a stay at home mom, which is what we feel is best for our family and our goals as parents. I worked full time at the church and also worked part time. The extra work helped, but we were not able to afford medical insurance (which was very difficult since childbearing plays quite a number on a woman), and ultimately we were facing financial ruin if we stayed where we were at. I chose to find a new position because my church was either unwilling or unable (depends on which lay person you ask-but most of them have no real idea why I left) to give me the raise I requested. I have no hard feelings toward the church, I love them all dearly, but it was a painful decision to make and I totally understand the burden you felt. Ministry is not for the weak at heart.

          • David A Booth says

            Dear Dan,

            Your comment (“but most of them have no real idea why I left”) raises a question in my mind: Would the Church be better off if we spoke more openly about pastoral compensation. Before becoming a pastor I worked in the public and private sectors for 25 years. It was not at all uncommon for people to leave positions to earn more money elsewhere. Yet, we have made this topic something pastors dare not say. So, virtually no pastors ever acknowledge that one of the reasons they are going to another church is that they pay better.

            I recognize that this is a difficult subject to deal with, but when most of the congregation has no idea why a pastor is leaving how can we expect them to make appropriate changes?

            Best wishes,


          • Dan Kitinoja says

            Yeah, I agree, if I felt that I could have been more open about things I might have avoided having to leave. I went back to that church not too long ago for a youth conference. Some folks were glad to see me. Others are angry with me. They are angry, in part, I believe, because they have no idea what staying there would have meant to my family. They all loved my wife, my son and me, and I would like to believe that they would not have been comfortable with her enduring hardship (which she did) because we could not afford medical insurance. I also think that if they understood that we could not have any more children because we could not afford insurance that they would have understood. They would then not be angry with me, simply said that I had to leave. In that we could be unified.


      • BJC says


        Thank your the great blog post, its definitely something that people need to hear.

        But, I am struggling a little with this issue. I agree that a pastors personal finances should never be overly scrutinized or made public. But, don’t the elders need to have some picture of families overal financial situation to make sure that all of their needs are being met? An example: if the pastors wife has a good job with a great benifits package that supplies the whole family with health insurance, then should the church be giving him extra money for health insurance when it is already covered by his wife’s job?

        Or lets say the pastor has a child with medical issues that requires more than average medical costs. Doesnt the church leadership need to know about those situations, so they can make sure that the family’s needs are met?

        Also, I know a pastor who is in the following situation: Him and his wife will be inheriting a lot of money from her parents. So, he has insisted that they not put money into a retirement account for him like they do the rest of the pastors, since their retirement will be more than covered by her inheritance. The church has graciously complied. Is that not biblical?

        • David A Booth says

          Dear BJC,

          Great questions! May I offer a few suggestions?

          1. How much money a pastor’s wife makes should be irrelevant to the how much the church is paying its pastor. It would actually be illegal for a private employer to take a spouse’s income into account in determining the compensation it provides to an employee and I can hardly see how this is a good thing for a church to do. If the pastor and his wife want to donate much of his compensation back to the church that is the pastor’s decision and not one that the church should make on his behalf. If for some reason a pastor and church decide to lower his compensation because of his wife’s salary they should be prepared to immediately raise his salary and pay his health benefits if the pastor’s wife leaves her job for any reason. The extra cost of doing this should be included in the budget.

          2. It is great when a pastor who is either already well off financially, or sure that he will be, chooses to take less money from the congregation (i.e. not receiving money for retirement). Yet, I still think that this is decision that a pastor should make and not one the church should impose on the pastor and his family. When I have counseled pastors in this situation I have encouraged them to take their salary and to just give it back to the church or to other ministries. The downside to the pastor taking less than a full salary is that it sets a false benchmark for pastoral compensation. You don’t want people grumbling over the next pastor because he is making thirty thousand dollars per year more than the previous pastor.

          3. If a pastor has unusual financial needs, I would suggest that this should be handled by the Deacons like they would handle any other family in the congregation. This presupposes that the congregation is already compensating the pastor at the same level as people with similar education and work experience in the congregation are making. It is right that pastors face the same financial struggles (and the same support from the body of Christ) as anyone else in the church. On the other hand, if the pastor cannot pay for basic dental care for his son or daughter it would be a good opportunity to evaluate whether or not the pastor is being paid the same as other members of the congregation who have similar levels of education and work experience.

          I hope that is helpful.

          Best wishes,


      • WILLA says


        • destiny says

          How many ‘jobs’ do you know that rely on the labor of SEVERAL individuals to function yet only pays a FEW a salary, because they have a title. EXACTLY. Church is not a ‘job’. It’s a gathering for Christians to fellowship and edify and minister to each other, but here in America, people treat it like a way to make money. Considering the fact that church is a NON PROFIT that relies on donations AND volunteering from many of its members, if it is possible for a pastor not to burden other hard working members with a salary demand the church wants to make sure they have to pay as little out to individual members as possible and that includes taking the pastor’s spouses job into consideration if it is already sufficient enough to take care of the Pastor’s BASIC needs. THAT IS FAIR. I don’t want 90% of the church’s offering going towards a pastor’s rent while important ministries are being neglected. That’s NOT why I’m donating to the church. If you want to make more money, get ANOTHER job. Please

      • mss says

        Thank you for that. How many other jobs can a person have where they want to know what the spouse makes? For that matter, how many other jobs are there where the spouse in interviewed right along with the prospective employee? And if I decided not to attend my husband’s church, can you imagine the tongue-wagging that would ensue?

  7. David says

    I did not notice any comment concerning a pastors tax situation. How he is both employed and self employed for social security. It does come with some perks but the full ss tax can be a killer. Most do not know this. Including those preparing ministers taxes.

    • Pam says

      We pay a part time pastor $40k, only $864 is designated to salary, to housing $32,000, pension a portion. There isn’t much to tax, he and his wife get food stamps. He opted out of social security-his choice. We hired him part time for that is all we could afford we have less than 100 members, mostly retired elderly. The thought was he would have time to work as the contractor he said he was. Well he says he can’t keep his hours to 20, he won’t delegate some of the work to us to help him, he won’t have his office at the church. He wants $1000. a month raise. Any advise

      • Mark says

        Pam, here’s my advice, stop paying a part time pastor $40K.
        Unless the average full time employment for someone with a masters degree is $80K in your area, you’re already being very generous with him. Also, for he and his wife to receive food stamps, I am assuming she doesn’t work, or they have a house full of kids. If he won’t delegate, that’s his problem not the church.
        I suggest reaching out to whatever next level leadership you have, whether an associational missionary, or state convention representative for help. This guy sounds like he wants full time pay for half time work….

        • Pam says

          Thank you for the reply Mark. He does not have kids at home, he is good at working the system. I will recommend your advise to our council. Thank You

      • destiny says

        Drop him. Besides, why is ONE person making all the decisions here? It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to delegate the work. If it needs to be delegated, the church needs to step in and do it anyway. The church was never intended for any one man to rule. Only CHRIST is the head.

    • mss says

      The tax situation is insane. How a pastor can be considered “self-employed” is beyond me. He or she is not grabbing a portion of the plate collection; he or she is completely dependent on the church for a paycheck. This is an archaic law that I can’t believe has not been successfully challenged.

  8. says

    Thank yo sir for your article…well stated and well needed! Having been a bi-vocational pastor myself, I know all too well the weight that financial burdens can add to the pastor’s heart and mind as he endeavors to fulfill the call of God on his life. I’m afraid that many of the pastors who deserve the most financial help are the least likely to bring it up, because of the reasons you mentioned above. It is important for us to take care of God’s men while they are here with us, or we may find ourselves searching for a pastor one day who will care as much as the one who left, but will not be able to find one because of our unwillingness to bless the ones we’ve already been blessed by.

  9. says

    To me, the question is not whether the pastor should be willing to work for free. (Personally I think that is hogwash and I find no support for that anywhere). The real question is what SHOULD the church do? How SHOULD they treat the pastor?

    SHAME ON a church that has a penurious attitude toward those who spend their careers leading them. They don’t deserve good leaders. The Golden Rule too often seems to have no place in the church, or so it seems to me.

  10. says

    We have created a “church system” that requires trained, even professional, management to oversee and maintain. The sad result of that system is that we expect pastors to serve as CEO’s and we operate church like a business. This responsibility of oversight includes buildings and property, personnel, vendors, accounts payable, and overhead. And we haven’t even started with what the church is really all about: making disciples. For most churches 80-90% of their income through member contributions goes toward maintaining the system (salaries, insurance, utilities, building/property maintenance, etc.). That leaves 10-20% to support actual ministry. We justify that by saying the other 80-90% is ministry support. Whether a church has 50 or 5,000 members, the basic system works exactly the same. Pastors could earn their living doing something else, but if you’re “in the system,” you pretty much have to operate in the above described scenario. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Jesus did not institute an organization that must be managed, but an organism that must multiply.

    • micah says

      If Jesus thought like you He would have never put together a flow chart (the 3, the 12, the 72) and Paul wouldn’t have taught organizational structure to Timothy (Paul, Timothy, reliable men, others also) Any leader knows that anything that is going to continue to multiply must me managed well. Jesus and Paul both lead and managed well. (Jesus even had a treasurer)

      • Jarron C Oneal says

        I agree with you we serve a God of order, planning and structure. Our God is into extremely detail. I agree that the organism must multiply but that happens through the regimented structure he put in place. Form the tabernacle other 3 groups with in the levites who had specific duties and task when they tried to get out of order they got swallowed by the earth. Number 16:1. Proverb 16:1 amplified says planning an organization is man job!

  11. Pastor Bob says

    I,was working two jobs when the economy tanked. Teaching at a Community college and chaplaincy at a jail.
    60 hrs a week. Lost both jobs in two months .
    God freed me to minister in Ethiopia, twice, then called me to.pastor a church in a rural town in a very poor,part of the state. A city church supported me briefly while we planted the church and then they had a financial crunch of their own. We get nothing from our tiny church. God really does supply all our needs.

    • Tony Taz says

      Thank you for your post. “Supplies all our needs” how refreshing to read this from a pastor. Serving in Ethiopia I am sure had something to do your attitude. It is hard to complain when you see how absolutely we are blessed in the USA pastor or not. The whole salary of the pastor vs the average income is “covetousness” pure and simple.

  12. Kimberly Taylor says

    I don’t see the though process behind the statement that pastors should work (or even be willing to work) for free. These are men with families that they have to provide for just like anyone else. They should be paid a fair compensation. Most people who are not pastors have no idea what pastors really have to deal with on a daily basis. There is so much more than just preaching on Sundays and teaching on Wednesday nights. And, a spouses salary should not have anything to do with what he gets paid. My husband is a pastor and I work outside the home also. Not completely by choice – I mostly work to supply benefits that my husband is not offered. Without my job, we would have no health, dental or vision insurance. I am not complaining, for we have been very blessed and are very grateful to God for providing for us daily. I just think that most people don’t understand the life of a pastor and his family and how difficult it can be sometimes. If they did, I feel confident that no one would question a pastor’s pay again.

  13. Ed Ethridge says

    You are so right…..package is the “killer”word. This is something close to my heart and I speak to it every opportunity the Lord gives.As director of missions I believe it is my responsibility to inform the church leadership of their responsibility to provide for their pastor and staff in a generous way and that the Lord will bless any church that demonstrates their love in a tangible way. The other side of the coin is we who are called should work hard and demonstrate good stewardship……………all for HIS glory.

  14. Brian Gass says

    I am very proud of our church and the way the finance committee handles this issue. The church is not large enough to support a full-time pastor, particularly with benefits. Yet they have offered our family a salary increase every year we have been with them serving bi-vocationally. They recognize our sacrifice as well as the joy with which we serve and the small salary increase just shows us that they appreciate our ministry. I’m sure they could show appreciation in other ways as well but this sure means a lot, especially for our kids. Of course, being bi-vocational it is not as much of a “need” as it was when I was serving full-time. Those guys really need to be shown the love, especially in small churches. They sacrifice much for the kingdom but most don’t even see it as a sacrifice but a joyful service.

  15. says

    How would these points line up with SBC employees? Point 2 especially comes to mind. The SBC exists because of and in support of local churches. SBC entities work from the same Bible and statement of faith as her local churches and hold her staff up to biblical standards. Paid SBC employees work in vocational ministry. Therefore, why shouldn’t SBC entities base salaries on estimates of what the mean income is from all SBC churches?

    Or something like that….

    • Eric says

      The SBC is a Non-Biblical Machine. It has no, none, nada, zilch basis in the biblical principle of church life or organization. It is a business that should be guided by secular business principles. There is NO comparison between the employee of the SBC and that of a church pastor.

  16. says

    I’m “retired” from the pastorate now, but was there or 30 years. I was, indeed, always underpaid. I never had benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. At my last church, my “outrageous” (in fact underwhelming) pay caused numerous, anonymous, internet comments about my lavish lifestyle and my bankrupting of the church. It’s a reality, yet most pastors prefer not to speak up about it. Thanks for speaking for them.

  17. says

    Good thoughts Tom. I think that is the hardest part about applying for ministry positions is feeling you will be judged as more interested in money than ministry if we ask about salary or even cost of living raises in current positions. Many of us have to ask that question though because many of us have families to care for and support.

    I definitely relate with number one. It is almost deceptive to present a compensation package as a salary package when much of it is going to insurance, retirement etc. All good things, but not an accurate predictor of what the pastor is actually bring home to pay for bills, housing and food.

  18. says

    Dr. Rainer – I graduated from the Billy Graham School in Louisville in 2002. I would like to request a speaking engagement from you. How do I contact you? Email me please or pm through FB. Thanks. Michael Mason

  19. says

    Well written; I’ve been on both sides of the scenario over the years as a pastor. Something tells me a lot of Pastors might not “share” but will “like,” “favorite,” “retweet,” and whatever else they can do to non-nonchalantly expose people to what you said!


  20. Jared says

    Dr. Rainer,

    My church in particular did much study on local salaries, and we decided on a generous amount for our pastor. After the decision was made, he was in the top 5 paid in our state and we were glad to be able to do that. But, my concern is, for a few years now our church has had some very difficult financial stress. He has gracefully taken two pay cuts over the years, and is trusting The Lord and the congregation to care for him. We pay all other expenses as well, insurance, cell phone, mortgage compensation etc. Even now, his salary is burdensome yet again and there is obviously no desire to cut pay again. We love and care deeply for our pastor, but we feel stuck. Do you have any advice? On top of all this, we are an elder lead church down to one elder, which we do not believe is biblical, but we cannot afford to compensate another, and no lay pastor has stepped forward. I trust our Sovereign Lord, but please pray.

  21. micah says

    I think it is truly sad to hear Christians who feel the need to burden those who give more of their heart and dedication to their churches than any ceo ever would for their company. Jesus’ ministry was supported by rich women who followed him around and paid for everything. How’s that for a Biblical model for compensation. Luke 8.

  22. Steve says

    good word, Dr. Rainer. Thank you! Now how do I get this into the hands of my elders without it looking self-serving. This has always been my struggle.
    The self-employment tax issue is another one that will eat up what appears to be a generous salary. How does one address that?

  23. Allen Mickle says

    Thank you for this. So true. I was forced out of my church recently because other churches helped us out financially over some major bills in our life because our church couldn’t pay us more. They took this as financial mismanagment on our part, yet we couldn’t afford to live on what they paid us.

  24. Blessed Pastor says

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

    One December business meeting, the newly formed finance committee (unwittingly) stated something to this effect: “When you total everything up, it comes out to $_______.” They had lumped salary, housing allowance, retirement, health insurance, utilities on the parsonage, the fair rental value of the parsonage, and the mileage reimbursement into one figure. The congregation walked away thinking, “Our pastor makes $_______ a year.”

    For a couple of years after that, the vast majority of the people who were present in that business meeting still thought, “Our pastor makes $______,” and they operated accordingly. In reality, the pastor made about 60% of the figure that had been stated… before taxes.

    Let’s just say the figure thrown out in that business meeting was $35,000. It wasn’t quite that high, but the math’s easier this way. Let’s also say his actual gross income was 60% of that, which sounds about right. The pastor was actually “making” $21,000 a year. Subtract from that health insurance, retirement, and, of course, taxes. What’s left? Not much.

    But everybody in the church thought he was making $35,000 a year.

    Does anyone else see a problem?

  25. Drew Dabbs says

    Dr. Rainer-
    An inscription somewhere reads, “The hope of democracy depends on the diffusion of knowledge.” Given that Baptist churches operate according to democratic processes and that pastors really aren’t in a good position to “diffuse knowledge” when it comes to ministerial compensation (because it always seems self-serving, even when it’s not), do you have any suggestions, recommendations, or wild ideas about how our denominational entities (local associations, state & national conventions) can help churches better understand the issues? I realize the resources are available, but many churches never reach out for help because they either don’t want it or don’t know it’s available.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Drew –

      There is no quick-fix solution, but more and more voices are addressing this issue. I will continue to be one of them.

  26. Jeanine Fogler says

    When a pastor lives in a parsonage and pays nothing to live there, everything he makes is spending money! No household bills is not a realistic way to live and still relate to your parishioners. Pastors should not be paid according to the salaries of their parishioners, after all, those people all have differing educations, licenses, and careers, not to mention, rates of pay!
    When we decide pastoral salaries we should pay them according to their education, responsibilities and experience – the very same way everyone else in the USA is paid! Not according to emotion, pity or esteem!

    • S Files says

      Ok, let’s take my husband’s salary. He has a 4 year degree from an accredited University in music. Then he went to a Seminary, also accredited, for an additional 3-4 years for a Master’s Degree also in music and worship. He makes roughly $19.200 a year in gross salary. You are right that he doesn’t pay rent or utilities. We do pay our own health insurance at this time. So that is a household bill we do pay, add to the fact that we are never enough people to qualify for any kind of group rate. If we were to take out our denominational health insurance offering through Guidestone, which is amazing and we would love to do, it would be $700 per month for our family of 5. That would be 2 of his paychecks. So now we’re trying to operate on $700 a month “spending money” to pay gas, car insurance, car loans (possibly), children’s educational expenses, clothing and groceries.

      I just wanted you to see some real numbers on that spending money.

    • Drew Dabbs says

      I try to follow the letter of the law as it relates to paying taxes, and, from that perspective, would like to offer some clarification.

      While it is true that pastors live in parsonages “rent free,” pastors must, according to tax law, pay state income tax and the full Social Security tax on the Fair Rental Value of the parsonage, fully furnished.

      Pastors are also supposed to pay state income tax and the full Social Security tax on any utilities paid by the church on the pastor’s behalf.

      So, even though it’s “rent free,” it’s really not, because pastors must pay these taxes… out of their salaries, which are also taxed (tax on “salary” = federal income tax + state income tax + the full Social Security tax).

    • Thom Rainer says

      Good responses to Jeannie by S and Drew. It’s unfortunate that many church members have the same misperceptions articulated by Jeannie.

      • Jeanine Fogler says

        Those were very good responses, however, I was a youth pastor of a very large youth ministry and was paid $1 per year so I am well aware of the inside of church ministry. Since all of you are highly educated I am sure you went into this with your eyes wide open! There is little money in music and ministry unless The Lord gives it. EVERYTHING you have come from Father. Ask him for more. Be bold enough to tell the board of your church what you need and stop whining. Has The Lord failed to meet your every need? Perhaps we are underpaid in ministry because money complicates and sidetracks many lives. We have just enough; not too much so we forget God and not too little so we have to steal! Praise Jesus for all you have – you are blessed!

        • S Files says

          I’m truly sorry if you took my comments as condescending in any way. They were not meant to belittle or condescend but to edify. We haven’t whined or complained to our congregation. We are grateful for the roof over our heads and the heat in the winter. The suggestion that I am ungrateful hurts me, and I believe that it hurts the kingdom of God as well. We’re all here trying to better ourselves and our ministries, or in my case, support my husband and God’s ministry through him. We need to find ways to be uplifting to one another or no one is going to see the Light through us. I will be, as I have been, praying about my attitude. Thank you for allowing me to see that my comments here could be hurtful to someone reading them. I will strive to do better from this moment forward.

        • Drew Dabbs says

          Along with S Files, I, apologize if my comments sounded condescending. My comment regarding taxation was meant strictly for clarification. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord, and, yes, He does supply our every need. Ministerial taxes are complicated, and my desire is simply that more people understand ministerial taxes.

          • Charles G says

            Neither comment sounded condescending to me. I serve a great church and am well-compensated, though I haven’t had a raise in several years. My problem is the constant tension between trusting God to meet the needs of my family and the equally Biblical mandate to provide for my family. When you figure out how to resolve that tension, please let me know.

    • Jarron C Oneal says

      You sound offended and upset. You should consult your Bible for how pastor should be paid while your reading stop by matt18 and read it …repeatedly.

  27. David A Booth says

    Dr. Rainer,

    As to your second point, I would not put too much stock in denominational guides on how to compensate pastors. The problem is that they generally end up averaging what is rather than what ought to be.

    Instead, it would be wise for churches to consider what other people make both in the church and in the community. In particular, it is wise to look at non-profit jobs that require similar education and experience. What does an Assistant Principle in the local school make? Do you think your pastor should be paid the same as a 28 year old Captain in the Army or a 35 year old Major? The military publishes salaries, Basic Allowance for Subsistence figures, and housing allowances – and you can find the housing allowance for the zip code your church is in. Such studies won’t provide a church with a point but they will provide a church with a range. I doubt anyone wants to serve on the search committee that tells candidates that we pay pastors less than 60% of what the Assistant Principle at our elementary school makes.

    It is also important to refer back to your first point. Comparing the total compensation package of a pastor to the salary of people in other fields grossly distorts the results yet it happens all of the time.

    Best wishes,


  28. Ash says

    If you think the situation is bad with pastors, I’d hate to hear the stats on Christian school teachers. Against the conventional wisdom at least in some circles, there are a good number of men in teaching positions at these schools, particularly in middle and high school, and of course some are coaches as well. At the Christian school where I previously taught, there were many male employes and most of those had families, and just about to a man, we had summer jobs as well. Believe me, if the attitude is that pastors should get by on a side dish of peanuts and a main course of faith, then the attitude toward Christian school teachers is that they should lick the peanut shells off the pastors’ floor and scrape by on so-so faith (usually not credited with a lot faith; otherwise we’d have obviously chosen to be pastors!) To add insult to injury, I was at the time attending a church where the pastor was overpaid–not disgustingly TBN style overpaid–but definitely overpaid, and this stood out in sharp relief when the economy tanked. And all of the local pastors got a huge tuition discount for their kids and in fact I think tuition may have been free. The counter to this may be that I am comparing apples to oranges, and in one sense this is true, but in another sense, it stands as a valid comparison because if the argument is that pastors should be paid equivalent to other professionals with the same kind of education and credentials and experience, then shouldn’t Christian teachers as well? I mean, shouldn’t we at least try to pay them, say, 60 to 70, hey maybe strive for even 80 percent of the salary of other teachers in the area with similar education, degree, experience, etc. And benefits, ha! I won’t even go there at this point. I’ll shut up with what may well be the very faulty underlying assumption behind the lack of compensation: We draw an unbiblical distinction between “church work” or so-called “full time Christian ministry” and the work everyone else does and therefore we want to treat these kinds of work differently in various ways. Every Christian is called to a vocation by God and glorifies God in that vocation; God is just as pleased in Christ with one Christian’s dedicated work for him as another’s, whether he is preaching a sermon or she is nursing a baby. That is a Roman Catholic error, but it is happening here as well, with what I think are only surface differences. In Rome, if you are called to so called spiritual work, then you are supposedly elevated spiritually and morally above the common parishoner and therefore treated and thought of very differently; here it seems that the same thinking is afoot–what the pastor is called to is so different and special and spiritual that we can and even should treat him differently in compensation, in the hours demanded of him even if he has a family, etc. That is not Protestant, not wise, and most of all, not Biblical.

    • Tony Taz says

      Absolutely, My years ago wife graduated from a christian college with a teaching degree and applied for a job at a christian school that was run by a church. My wife asked about pay and it was minimum wage and no Social Security contribution. My wife said, “I can’t live on that”. The pastor replied consider it ministry. Needless to say she didn’t take the job. Years ago, my cousin was on a board of deacons at a church that had a fairly large christian school at the time. The pastor and deacons were not afraid to go before the church to ask members to give “more” by faith for this project or that missionary etc. My cousin asked the board if they would be willing to give the teachers a one time bonus in the following year. Most objected and said the church couldn’t afford it. He countered and said why don’t you appropriated it by faith like you ask the church members to do whenever you present them with a “project” need. Well, they teachers got their bonus that one time the next year.

  29. Ash says

    **To clarify, since my sentence order above may cause confusion, the Roman Catholic error that I am referring to is the following: We draw an unbiblical distinction between “church work” or so-called “full time Christian ministry” and the work everyone else does and therefore we want to treat these kinds of work differently in various ways.

    The following is NOT the Roman Catholic error, but is a sound, biblical idea about work: God is just as pleased in Christ with one Christian’s dedicated work for him as another’s, whether he is preaching a sermon or she is nursing a baby.

    Hope that clears things up.

  30. says

    I salute the pastors (and their wives) who endure the financial hardship to stay in the ministry. I was full-time for nine years…have now returned to a full-time secular job and pastor part-time. It is not nearly as rewarding but it is necessary. One issue was health insurance which I desperately need….another issue was the pay. My predecessor often said, “The custodian makes more than I make.” And he was right on the mark. God bless all of you!

  31. Dan says

    Thanks for your post. As a youth minister I had to make the gut wrenching decision to leave a church that I loved due to financial issues. I have often wondered whether I had been carnal instead of spiritual, or selfish instead of unselfish. I know that I didn’t have selfish motives, but it hurts when you know people you love think you were just using them as a “stepping stone.” I also doubted myself because a mentor that I love and trust doubted me. Anyway, I still love those people but I still need reassurance from time to time because the experience still stings. Your post was timely. Thank you.

  32. Larry says

    Is it ok for a faithful pastor at small church with very low pay to prayerfully consider a vancant pastor position at a larger church that is able to paid a larger salary? Of course he will seek God’s direction just like any other Christian working in any other profession. Even though he is genuinely pastoring for the right reasons, is it wrong for him to desire a better pay, benefits, to be close to home or to wanna live in a different state?

    • Adam Reynolds says

      Absolutely. It is more than okay, but it is actually justified. Your first order is to love Christ and serve Him faithfully. Then you love and serve your family faithfully. Then you love and serve your church faithfully. If another position comes open that God gives you direction on and it better allows you to support your family, then to stay simply because you’re fearful of perception is almost idolatrous.

  33. says

    My husband and I are 37 year non denominated missionaries in Haiti. We were there for the quake, all the coup d’etats, hurricanes and disasters that never made the news. Every day we minister the gospel to 2,000,000 Haitians through our Creole Christian TV show that is aired on 100 stations from Boston to the farthest South and East border of Haiti. We have never received a salary, no one has ever asked us if we need one. We do not have a compensation package, our health ins and life ins is over $1000.00/month! We may have to discontinue both this year. Stress? We fast when the stress threatens to derail our lives and ministry. In six months in 2009 I didn’t eat for 82 days. It works God sent a miracle of provision. Leave the field b/c of pay issues? We’d sooner deny Christ. I wish someone would write an article about missionaries and what it means to leave family, friends, country and all the conveniences of the States w no pay!

  34. Confused says

    What would you say to a church that has decreased in attendance by 80% in the past 10 years, (current pastor has been in place 5years) yet pays the pastor the same as they did when running 4-500? The pastor, while experienced in ministry, is not a seminary grad, yet makes in base salary alone, 150% of what an avg professional with a M.S. degree makes. Couple that with a consistent deficit in the church and you have a picture of our reality. The congregation is largely unaware of the salaries ( all are lumped together into one budget line). The personnel committee is unwilling to discuss them.

    • David A Booth says

      Dear Confused,

      I am a pastor. While churches vary in practice I think the congregation should know exactly what they are paying each pastor and it would be a reasonable think for you to ask the leadership of your congregation to provide greater clarity.

      I am sorry to hear that your church has experienced such a sharp decline in membership but this may not be very good reason to cut the pastor’s salary. One of the regrettable aspects of pastoral compensation in the U.S. is that it is commonly assumed that pastors should be paid more for serving in larger churches. At the same time, when pastors leave small churches to go to larger churches which pay better – we become upset that the pastor is doing it just for the money. We can’t really have it both ways. Furthermore, a church is not a small business enterprise. Growth or decline in membership is not a reflection of the pastor’s faithfulness. I suspect that your pastor is under an enormous amount of pressure because of the declining membership and the congregation should make an extra effort to lift him up in prayer.

      I’m really surprised that your pastor makes 150% of what a typical professional with a master’s degree makes in your community. I live in an expensive part of the country, but where I live that would put the pastor’s salary around $150k not including benefits. As a pastor, I know a lot of other pastors and I don’t know any who pastor churches of less than 1,000 people who are paid like that. You may want to check to get the facts straight. Please remember to do an apples-to-apples comparison. As Thom Rainer pointed out, many people wrongly compare the total compensation package for a pastor (including the benefits) with the salary of non-pastors.

      Best wishes,


      • Confused says

        David, thanks for your reply. In our local area, most professionals with master’s degrees earn 40k annually. Our pastor, who only holds a B.S. degree earns 60k base salary alone. Our church size is largely irrelevant except to show that while people, and thus giving, has decreased, the salary has not. Your suggestion earlier to check military pay tables isn’t a bad idea. Checking federal tables for chaplaincy shows him to be overpaid (remember he’s not educationally qualified without an m.div.) and in the military he’s not far from par with a senior captain. So, thanks for your comments, but our current situation is different than you imagined.

  35. Wendy Bittner says

    I didn’t read all 75 comments, but I’m wondering has anyone addressed the issue of “cost of living increase”? In a time when most workers are NOT receiving and increase, and in some cases are cut back, should a church automatically give an increase to the pastor and not other staff members? I did a little research and the “officially” calculated cost of living increase is the lowest it has been since 1975 or so….

  36. Josh says

    I appreciate this article, it was very beneficial as an associate minister. It saddens me that so many people think that ministers should simply do their job for free. Many will quote Paul and talking about bi-vocational ministry, But here is a little bit of truth about that, Jesus also says no man can serve two masters. Anyone that expects their minister to give full-time pay attention to the church and also work a full-time job is deceiving themselves. If you work a job outside of the church often it causes us to divide our attentions and our focus. Also when you see Moses establishing the priesthood the tribe of Levites was to receive their inheritance their living and their daily meals out of the offerings that were presented to the temple, A.k.a. the people of Israel were supposed to support their priests and leaders in ministry. I have been blessed to be employed in full-time ministry at a church that pays us fairly, but I do not do this position for the money because if I was working for the money, I would do something else! For all of those trying to get out of paying your pastors, please pay your pastor!

  37. Mark S says

    I want to start out by saying that my church has AMAZING pastors and I feel pastors should be compensated fairly, but I don’t understand this focus on salary vs package and comparing pastoral position to a secular one on the basis of salary alone for one main reason…
    The components of a pastoral “package” are often much more than the compensation package of a secular vocation. House and utility payments are almost never included with secular vocations and not having to pay those is quite significant, even if the taxes still needed to be paid. Remember that those of us in secular vocations not only pay house and utility payments, but we too pay taxes on the income used to make those payments.

    So yes, please pay our clergy a fair salary, but it would be ridiculous to not factor the entire package.

    • David A Booth says

      Hi Mark,

      I think you are misunderstanding the point. Yes, of course the housing allowance should be considered as part of a pastor’s salary. That isn’t the problem. Here’s what is:

      If you ask a school teacher how much she or he makes, he or she will NOT include Health Insurance, the school district’s FICA contributions, the employer’s contribution to a retirement plan, reimbursement for expenses, etc … as part of the salary number that he or she gives to you. Oddly, many people consider all of those things part of their pastor’s salary. This creates a real apples to oranges comparison which makes it look like the pastor is doing far better financially than he is (This is a real problem in the broader church. Studies suggest that 3 out of 4 pastor’s wives wish their husband would leave the ministry for ANY other job because their husbands are paid so poorly).

      A simple publicly available set of data exists to compare the salary of pastors to and that is to Commissioned Officer’s Salaries in the U.S. Military. The housing allowance for military officers is taxed the same way that the housing allowance for pastors is taxed (FICA but not income). Furthermore, the housing allowance is adjusted to reflect local cost of living conditions (e.g. It is much higher in Boston, MA than in Jackson, MS) so it is easy to find the allowance provided for a city near you. The only additional factor is that Military personnel are also paid a Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) which you would have to add in:

      1. Decide what level you want to compare your pastor to. I made Captain in the Marine Corps at 27 after 5 years of service and a B.S. degree. You will probably want to choose a range between a Captain with 6 years of service and a Major with 14 years of service. In my judgment, there is no need to pay a pastor the type of salary that a Lt. Col. or a Col. makes.
      2. Look up and write down the Salary, Housing Allowance, and BAS for the rank and experience you selected.
      3. Remember that the military also provides officers with retirement, health care, some life insurance, disability insurance, half of FICA, and essentially all expenses such as for business travel. It also provides for continuing education (It might be a good idea to ask if your church is paying for continuing education for your pastor). Therefore, none of these items should be considered in your pastor’s salary if you want to make an Apples to Apples comparison.
      4. Do the comparison.

      My guess is that the 45-55 year old pastor with a Masters or Doctoral degree in your church is making less than the 28 year old Army Captain with a B.S. and six years of work experience. You might want to ask if that is reasonable.

      Best wishes,


      • Jarron C Oneal says

        David I love your example, let me add this thought. While housing allowance, and tax may be the same for clergy and military, your average soldier when he gets off duty can throw back a few beers, jeer at women, maybe get in abar room fight. Curse at subordinate soldiers (if your a sargent etc.) And the list goes on. Not one will lose his job for cheating on his wife. However the pastor can do none of this. We pay him not only for his life on the pulpit but mostly off the pulpit which is even more important. What’s the price tag for integrity

  38. Cammie Shelatz says


    Since I saw it come up several times throughout the conversation, I just thought I’d put it out there for those who may be interested…whether you are a pastor or on a board who makes decisions about paying the pastor…we have been members of a Christian Healthshare Network for over 8 years, and we absolutely love it. NEVER do we ever want to go back to “real” health insurance. We’ve had several needs over the years, all of which have been shared completely. Not only do we save tons of money as opposed to paying “real” health insurance premiums, we can choose our doctors and never have to worry about paying for things (through a premium) that we don’t agree with biblically. Plus, it is an incredible network of prayer and support. Love it, love it, love it. Samaritan Ministries. (Oh, by the way, we aren’t in paid ministry, but our church pays our pastor’s family share.)

  39. David Robert says

    During times of economic hardship, the church elders took out a loan so they could pay the pastor. Is this permissible, and does this follow generally accepted business practices? And, most importantly, is this biblical?

    • Thom Rainer says

      David –

      Borrowing to pay salaries is not a best practice, but it sounds like there may have been some extenuating circumstances.

      • David Robert says

        I am a new elder, ordained and installed in January. Going over some budget items, there is a loan outstanding from a commercial firm that was made because there was not enough offerings coming into the church. The pastor is a full time pastor, with about 80 people in regular attendance on Sunday. During hard economic times, there were not enough offerings coming in to pay the pastor. A commercial loan was taken out against the assets of the church property, so that the pastor could be paid. The pastor is also the treasurer.

        Does this follow generally acceptable business practices? Are there red flags that I should be concerned about? Was what was done conform with biblical principles? Should an outside, independent audit be conducted of the church books?

        Any information would be helpful.

        • David A Booth says

          Dear David,

          1. The pastor should NEVER be the treasurer. This doesn’t mean that your pastor has done anything wrong but it does mean that the church hasn’t safeguarded against the appearance of impropriety. I would encourage you and your fellow Elders to elect someone unrelated to the pastor to be the new treasurer as soon as possible.

          2. The Bible forbids us from assuming that that something has been done wrong without having clear evidence to that fact. Instead of worrying about red flags, why not ask the Elders who were already serving to explain why they pursued this course of action? Keep in mind that you cannot undo the past you can only learn from it.

          3. You present the issue of the loan as though you discovered this matter when you became an Elder. As a pastor, I want to encourage you to share this type of information with the whole congregation. There are many matters related to counseling which Elders must keep in strict confidence yet there are others, such as the financial condition of the church, that the congregation should be kept fully informed about. The failure to disclose those things which the Elders should be sharing with the congregation will erode the confidence that the congregation should have in its leadership. Most congregations wish that their Elders would communicate more with them about the state and direction of the church.

          4. A church of 80 people should not require an outside audit. Your books should be sufficiently simple that an audit committee made up of people from the church (other than the pastor and treasurer) can easily see that all the money has been appropriately accounted for.

          Best wishes,


          • David Robert says

            Dear David,

            Thank you for the help. I appreciate your insight.

            The reason for my concerns is that the pastor is the treasurer, and he was the one who took out the loan. The reason he gives is that several years ago, during tough economic times, there were not enough offerings coming into the church. Bills had to be paid, and there was not much left over to pay the pastor. The pastor took out the loan so that he could put food on the table.

            There were two elders who agreed to the loan. One died a year and a half ago. He was the pastor’s father in law, who resided with the pastor. The other is a man who does not know how to say no.

            There were two additional loans taken out, one for a lawnmower, and the other for a copy machine. Both of these loans are outstanding. I’ve been contacting Crown Financial Ministries, as well as Resource Ministries for their advice. I can find no where in Scripture where it is permissible to go into debt to purchase stuff.

            I am now in the process of working up a budget, as well as getting our church out of debt.

            Thanks for your help,


        • Jarron C Oneal says

          David who ordained you as an elder of the church, was it the pastor? If so he obviously trust you. If you have any question try asking him first. So there is mutual trust. Why assume when yo can just ask. I’m sure he knows your looking at books right so he knows you see the loans . If your motive is pure then other shouldn’t be any problem just asking him for clarity.

  40. Maria Lorudes says

    There is a pastor of a church who is well taken care of with salaries and benefits, considering the size of the church which is only about 250. But, the problem is, this pastor has some personal financial stewardship issues that puts him in a negative cash flow inspite of his generous salary. Now he applied to another church because they offered him a higher pay. Is this a right reason for a pastor to do?

  41. Jarron C Oneal says

    I found the formula for a pastors salary:
    Take the value of your marriage, family, peace, self worth, wisdom, comfort, courage, health, etc. Oh and let’s not forget your SOUL. then multiply it by the number of people in your church. When you come with the number. Then consider the Pastor is called to be the” WATCHMAN”FOR ALL OF IT. Hebrews 13:7
    All the promises of God are received by faith, faith come by hearing, HOW CAN THEY HEAR WITH OUT A PREACHER Romans10:14. ….pay the pastor

  42. Jared says

    I have spent more than 50 years in churches throughout the US. I have seen pastors who were barely getting by and I’ve seen some who lived VERY comfortable lives. I have seen pastors who were on-call, 24/7 seemingly, who taught a SS class and preached Sunday AM, PM, and Wednesdays and were also at Thursday night visitation. I’ve also seen pastors who preached one sermon, Sunday morning, had an associate take care of any hospital/home-bound visits, and turned his Sunday morning preaching duties over to various ordained lay members in the congregation about 8-10 times a year.

    The latter pastor is the pastor of the church I attend now. His compensation package is around $70K, to include benefits. His wife works outside the home at a bank and makes around $35-40K a year. So, the pastor is getting a $75K compensation package for preaching 40 or so times a year. He isn’t involved in any of the church ministry outreaches (has never accompanied church members who go out to feed the poor or provide meals at a local “safe house), spends only a few hour each week at the church (two 4-hour days) and when he is there, stays sequestered in his office the whole time, and has little to no contact with the church body outside of his Sunday morning service. He recently announced to the church that this would be his last pastorate (he’s in his mid 50’s) … that he plans on staying here until he is carried out in a box.

    We have an AWANA program and Wednesday Night Bible study that are both led by lay members. The pastor doesn’t attend the Bible study, feeling his time is better spent wandering the halls and speaking with AWANA parents and church members who are in the area.

    Nice work if you can find it.

    • David A Booth says

      Dear Jared,

      1. First, and most importantly, the Internet is a totally inappropriate place for you to be talking about your pastor. Please bring your concerns to your church’s leadership in private.

      2. Second, seventy-five thousand dollars per year (including benefits) is the equivalent of around $50,000 to $55,000 per year in a salaried job. Let me be blunt: That is a terrible salary (and this isn’t for someone starting out as an Assistant Pastor – this is for someone who would be considered to be in his prime earning years in the private sector). I say that this is a terrible salary even though I know that it is more than many other pastors are making. Why? Try to imagine any business anywhere in the United States advertising: “Help wanted. Must have three years of graduate school. After 20 or 25 years of service you might eventually make $55,000.” I am not suggesting that pastors should be paid like business executives, but by what rationale do you conclude that paying your experienced middle aged pastor meaningfully less than a 28 year old Army Captain makes somehow constitutes a lavish salary that allows him to live a “VERY comfortable” life? BTW – I was a Captain in the Marine Corps in 1989 so don’t try to tell me I don’t know how difficult being a military officer is.

      3. You mention that the pastor’s wife has a job. Why? Whether she works at home or at a paying job is none of the congregation’s business.

      4. Please realize that you have no idea what your pastor is spending his time doing. You are just filling in the blanks with your own imagination. You might be surprised to know how much time your pastor spends doing marriage counseling that you will never know about because he is rightly protecting the confidentiality of your fellow church members.

      In Christ,


      • Jared says

        Goodness. Lot of ire, wrongful speculation, and outright accusation in your reply there, pastor. Seeing you know nothing more than what you could glean from my posting, you sure didn’t have any trouble jumping to a lot of conclusions. But, having looked at other replies you’ve made in this forum, that’s not to be unexpected.
        There is no need for my going to the church leadership. The pastor is it and I’ve been to him on more than one occasion regarding his lack of participation in church ministries and his unwillingness to conduct more than one service a week. I also know he’s relayed to me what his week is comprised of, so your charge that I have no idea of what he does – or that I’m “just filling in the blanks with your own imagination,” – is incorrect. Again.
        I made no mention of this pastor’s salary being lavish or even VERY comfortable … if you re-read my previous comment, you’ll find you’ve again jumped to the wrong conclusions. Interesting.
        And you’ll also notice that my comment about his wife working had only to do with the extra income she brought into the household and nothing to do whether or not she should be doing that – or whether or not it was the congregation’s business. Again, you jump to a wrong conclusion. Seems to be a trend developing here, no?
        I’ll go back to my original posting … there are some pastors who do VERY little pastoral work and get paid well for the little they do. Nice work if you can get it. I will also add, there are some pastors who are so blinded by their own prejudices/biases that they can’t correctly render an accurate reading and assessment of a posting.

  43. James says

    Quick question about #1: What is health insurance?

    Raising 3 kids and a disabled wife on 31,200 a year. (While trying to pay for grad school).

    Had to move out of the parsonage to get my kids into a school where their life wasn’t n danger (long story). Started programing to pay for rent and other expenses.

  44. A disgruntled pastor's wife says

    We are in the middle of packing to move away from a congregation that brought us here under false pretenses. They lied, plan and simple. Made us believe they could pay my pastor spouse a fair living. However, after we were here, we find out their history is to keep a pastor (underpaid) for three or four years and then drive him/her out because they’ve run out of money. Tired of being lied to by congregations.

    I’d like to know why our housing is added to his salary also. If there is a parsonage, which in my experience is always a rundown mess, we have to pay income taxes on the fair rental value. How can this be fair when we’re forced to live in THEIR house for THEIR convenience? What other job owns a person and his/her family, controlling every moment of their lives? Who in their right mind would put up with these conditions. I wish my pastor spouse would leave the ministry and all of it’s stress.

  45. NC Pastor says

    This very thing happened to me and was a big reason I made a quick move from one church to another. A search committee gave me a proposal in writing that my pay would be a certain amount, and that I would work with the finance team to break down a larger number to reflect a good package that suited me. The committee could never get their hands on a real church budget, so acted in good faith I was being told the truth. Long story short, my pay ended up being about $17,000 short… with line items being lumped into what was considered my pay that I would NEVER be able to use or use up. A few line items are shared reimbursement line items that staff and deacons could get reimbursed from as well.

    I can’t tell you how awful I felt about pay being an issue… I never bring it up. I did work up the nerve to bring it up to our deacon chair… who told me I should feel lucky just to have a job in this economy. To my wife and I, this issue coupled with some others really spoke to the heart of the church, and so we decided to move on after precisely one year.

    I learned a lot in that experience… what questions to ask, etc. However, since I am pretty and that was my first time in the role of senior pastor, I struggle with how I will explain this to another church down the road if I am ever called to explore my options.

    I wish more search committees would look at blogs like this and seek help from associations or state conventions.

    Maybe another topic for a different day is to discuss why you think smaller churches have such lofty requirements. I interviewed at a church of 35 that wanted me to have or show proof i was working toward a doctorate and 7 years of pastoral experience, with the pay being about 20,000 a year. I spoke to a much larger church that had requirements, but not nearly as rigid as those. Maybe I should study that complexity for my doctoral work!

    Thanks again for your great post.

  46. youngseminarian says

    My wife and I just started seminary, and I’ve been struggling over wanting to be a full time pastor. I want to pastor in order to love and care for the Lord’s flock…but I have a hard time coming to peace about receiving full time pay for this. Would love to come to a place where I could pursue this calling without these types of anxieties. For some reason, just wonder if its selfish that I want to be full time vs. bi-vocational?

    • Thom Rainer says

      Young Seminarian –

      Take a first step and go bivocational. I think you will get a sense of God’s leadership in that context.

      • youngseminarian says

        Thank you! I think I may have opportunities like that while in seminary. It’s difficult to explain the anxiety I have about it. All the pastors I’ve ever had have all been full time and I have absolutely no problem with them being full time either (I think I was blessed because of it actually). I wonder if because of these reservations I have, this is the Lord’s way of leading me to bi-vocational ministry. On the other side of the coin, I have absolutely no desire to be bi-vocational. My personality-type, I really like to pursue one thing and really put my best into it. The idea of trying to balance family, pastoring, work, and even my own soul seems like it would be an overwhelming task that would be more of a burden than a joy. Any thoughts?

        • David A Booth says

          Dear Young Seminarian,

          Two pieces of good news:

          1. First, you don’t have to work everything out in advance. You just need to keep taking the next step in being faithful to God. Many men beginning down the path toward pastoral ministry waste a lot of time and emotional energy on all sorts of what-ifs about the future. Don’t be one of them. You know and are known by the Living God who holds the future in His hands. Psalm 23 isn’t just a great Psalm to read and to teach to other people. It is part of God’s word to you. It will remind you that the Good Shepherd will be with you for your good wherever you go.

          2. Second, the LORD has given people to help you think through these choices. These people include your pastor and the Elders from your local church. They both know you and know about the demands of pastoral ministry. I’m sure that they would be happy to talk with you and to pray with you about how you are answering God’s call upon your life.

          In Christ,


  47. Michael Mornard says

    An excellent post.

    Besides modest salaries, SEMINARY HAS BECOME INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE. When I got my MBA, my student load burden was about 2/3 of my expected annual income.

    My wife just graduated from seminary and got ordained. Her student loan burden is three times her expected annual income.

  48. Steve says

    Dr. Rainer,

    I appreciate the information in your blog. I wish that more church members would actually participate in reading and studying information about being a help to all of their ministerial staff. As a Worship Pastor for 30 years I have never felt “overpaid” by a church. On the contrary, I have often struggled to make ends meet. It seems as though church members are less educated and less involved in the budget process than at any other time in my life.

    The issue of salary versus cost of living (COL) increases has weighed heavily on me in the past few years. We live in a very high COL part of the country. Because of COL increases, I now earn less than when I started at my current church 7 years ago. Throughout my ministry we have made a personal choice to do without many things (TV, second car, vacations, new clothes, etc.) so that my wife can stay home with our children and homeschool them through high school, but that decision is becoming more and more difficult. And I am on staff at a church that runs almost 1000 on Sundays.

    What I make is up to God and his church, but I have to admit that I have struggled with the sin of envy often throughout my ministry: not only from what others outside of ministry have, but even from what Senior Pastors have. It has never been easy to see the Senior Pastor drive up in a new vehicle every few years when we have a 20 year old clunker, or to hear about his fishing boat and jet ski when we cannot even afford to visit the dentist but once every 5 years or so, or to listen as the Senior Pastor requests that the church increase the Cooperative Program giving from 20% to 21% because he doesn’t need a raise this year when I am considering leaving the church because I cannot afford to live in the area any longer.

    I hope that churches will take an honest look at the salaries of their associate pastors and support staff. Adding another position just because the church has grown is not always the wisest thing to do if the church cannot faithfully support their current staff financially. Creating an environment of stress among staff due to financial strains leads to unhealthy church staff relations and in turn an unhealthy church body.

  49. Tiim Roberts says

    As a Pastor of a small church the members are on SS or retired and can’t afford to pay me and collections are rare since funds are not there so we are an unfunded church, I work full to keep a roof over my families head and food on the table with bills barely not always paid.

    I am what some have called a Bi-Vocational pastor because I am on call 24-7 (My work accepts this and is ok).
    What about those of su who get no pay and things needed are either donation or out of our pocket. I am part of an association with many pastors like I am mixed with others who get paid and you can always feel tention and see the divide when we all get together.

  50. says

    Good perspective and insight. I’d like to read legal statutes on Pastors involved in networking marketing schemes they pitch to church members. Any laws on the books governing this?

    Paul F Davis – author of ‘God vs. Religion’

    • David A Booth says

      Dear Paul,

      I am not a lawyer so I have nothing to say about legal issues.

      I am, however, a pastor and I find it appalling that any pastor would be trying to sell things to members of his congregation. Yikes! That is just horrible.

      Best wishes,


  51. Joseph says

    I have a strange story. At the age of 18 I was called to preach. I am very aware of it and have been shuffling my feet to go to seminary school. When it came down to choose either Seminary school or Culinary school I chose culinary. Fast-forward 10 years and I am feeling the burden to go to seminary school. My finances aren’t clicking, I am having issues at work and my heart is heavy over this issue. I currently make about $22,000/year and I just don’t want to switch careers and put my family in a worse position. I know I should be faithful but sometimes taking a leap of faith is much harder than it seems. Can someone offer any insight into my issue? It would be much appreciated.

    • David A Booth says


      Don’t be a lone ranger. Go to the leadership of your church and talk with them about your inward sense of calling. Specifically ask for their evaluation of your gifts for ministry and for them to provide mentoring to you. They should provide you with some helpful feedback. Also, be candid with the leaders of your church about your financial situation.

      In Christ,


    • Preacher says

      My comment here is not advice for your current situation. Your situation doesn’t appear to be similar to the following person’s situation. I know a guy who was pressured by his pastor to attend seminary full-time. His had a good paying job. He told me that it was the pressure from his pastor that caused him to decide to attend seminary. The 2 years he spent attending seminary were difficult for him. He and his family barely got by. His wife went from a stay-at-home mom, to having to work outside the home to pay the bills and put food on their table. He was miserable. The stress from attending seminary, coupled with a mounting educational debt, made their lives unnecessarily difficult. Finally he started praying and seeking God’s guidance for his life and for the lives if his family. In the end, he made the decision to drop out of seminary, and went back to his previous vocation. The last time I talked with him, he told me he had his peace back and his family were much happier, too.
      Seminary isn’t for everyone. Seminary is basically for people who are looking for a career path. People from well-to-do families, and people who are well-off themselves, are good candidates for seminary. Otherwise, a person, if fortunate, will graduate seminary burdened with a huge debt. With such debt hanging over ones head, it makes it very difficult to minister effectively. I sometimes wonder if the burden of debt is what has caused some pastors to become crooks.

  52. Preacher says

    I’m one of those pastors struggling from month-to-month just to get by. My status is part-time, but I do full-time ministry. In my denomination, the pastors who have Full-Time status receives full-time pay, insurance, travel pay, free housing and all utilities provided free, and other perks. The deacons and elders get royal treatment. Many of the full-timers have church service on Sunday morning only. But for those of us who are considered Part-Time, we have no set salary and no free housing and utilities. The local church decides “if” they will provide us insurance and travel pay. Not one church that I have pastored ever provided insurance,travel pay or housing for me. Why should the church provide me anything when they don’t have to? They can still get full-time work out of me?
    Compared to many of the full-timers in my denomination, I have church service every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening. I visit those in the hospital. I visit the sick, the shut-ins, I do funerals and weddings. I visit in the church community. I help with certain maintenance work on the church building. I personally believe “every” pastor, regardless of his or her educationally accomplishments, should be provided the best of everything. Why? Because we pastors are the ones who bring the Good News.

      • Preacher says

        I am self-employed outside the church–plus I serve the church full-time. Many preachers work outside the church for their living.

      • Adam Reynolds says

        That was an awfully curt response. there are many duties required of a pastor besides using their spiritual gifts. As i have said previously, dont pay the pastor for performing their pastoral duties, but pay them well for the myriad of duties they perform outside of using their spiritual gifts and the numerous hours of overtime they put in.

  53. Stephanie says

    Ive joined this conversation late, but want to say THANK YOU all of you that have dedicated your life to helping others see the kingdom of God.
    I pay my tithes faithfully and if you pastors go iout and buy a mansion I could care less. If it makes you happy please do it do when I see you Wednesday for Bible study and Sunday for some of the best lessons I’ll ever learn, I WANT you happy..
    I’ll even come clean it for you.. Just ask.. You teach me what God has taught you, giving tithes and offering is the least I can do.. Stephanie..
    “faithful till the end”

  54. Ellen says

    There should be MANY pastors (plural) in a church and ,therefore, no need for a full time salary!

    The modern day pastors office is NOT biblical.

    • David A Booth says

      Dear Ellen,

      While there is no exact compensation package called forth in Scripture, your assertion that pastors should not receive a full-time salary is simply not Biblical. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:14 Paul writes: “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” Two thoughts:

      1. First, this passage unambiguously endorses pastors receiving full time salaries; and
      2. Second, please note the strong language Paul uses. He doesn’t say that the Lord suggested but that the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

      Best wishes,


    • Dan Kitinoja says

      I have been watching this post since it was first made a month or two ago. One thing that has surprised me is how many people don’t think that pastors should be compensated. I am stunned to read how many of my brothers and sisters seem comfortable with a pastor not being well compensated for working up to 60 hours a week. Buildings are important, but generally speaking, if the church is poorly pastored because you won’t pay a skilled/qualified pastor enough to care for his family, your congregation will accomplish far less for the Kingdom than it should, and you might not get to keep your building when it is all said and done.

      • Preacher says

        Believing the pastor should not get paid, is a long standing belief that’s goes back to the early days when the preacher was given “a handshake and an invitation to come back.”.

        • Dan says

          First, the handshake and an invitation to come back may be rooted in tradition but it is not rooted in Scripture. Secondly, If all a preacher was asked to do in service to the church was preach, most (including me) would do that for free, even though the Scriptures teach that the one who feeds the sheep should be compensated (1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:8). Paul did not accept financial support from the Corinthians for a practical reason, namely, that they seemed to think that if they supported him financially they could sway his message and ministry. However, he still accepted payment from other churches in order to do his ministry in Corinth. So even the unmarried and childless Paul had financial needs.

  55. says

    Awesome post. Korean churches are known to have this huge difference from senior pastor and associate pastors. Even in financially well established churches, while senior pastor is paid enough to make a living, most full-time associate pastors are paid part-time.

    I didn’t become a pastor to live an extravagant life and God’s grace is sufficient to barely get by, but I’m not sure where that balance is anymore. I’m not starving or anything, but I really don’t understand how our family lives every month with what I make at the church. Stress and pressure is definitely there, but I do see God’s provision in somehow making ends meet. However, it would be very nice to see and know that numbers do add up for the month and I don’t have to scavenge hunt. I’m constantly debating if I should find another job, or if I’m supposed to stick around and let God sort of do His thing like He had every month.

  56. Erick Funes says

    I am pursuing seminary and didn’t realize how much of a debate this brings up. I have faith going in. I feel very few men will answer the call in my generation. I could be wrong. 2 Timothy 2:3, 2 Cor. 5:7.

  57. says

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    Talk soon!

  58. Godsangel10 says

    I think we are missing the point the most important thing is the LOVE of GOD n the teaching of his word !! Should it matter who’s getting paid n who’s not ?? Who are we to judge ?? I personally believe pastors should get paid why not I. The Old Testament GOD always wanted the high priest n his family to get a part of the sacrifices..I am not a pastor and I wasn’t raised in a church but I love my Heavenly Father n I have given my life to him in JESUS name I hope I never get caught up in things like this I pray that my love n innocence will always remain !!! If there is a chance that a pastor is doing wrong with money or whatever they will be judged accordingly …. I give my tithe n my offering not to my church n not to a pastor but to the kingdom of my GOD what they choose to do with it that’s not my problem as long as I’ve givin with the right heart. And I’m glad my pastor doesn’t have another job and that we the church and the word of GOD is his one n only priority !! Stay blessed all of u xo !

  59. Monique says

    Paul actually discourages Pastors freeloading off of the congregation. For some reason, people often cherry pick the verses you’ll find above but read those before and after what is posted above for context. Yes, they can receive support such as food. But Paul himself, provided his own housing via his Tentmaking skils. That was his vocation. Our Lord was a Carpenter. Yes, those that rule well, preach and teach, can benefit but that certainly doesn’t mean benefitting to the point the members are paying all your bills. The model for church taught by Apostle Paul is an ELDER LED church. A pluralty of Elders. Not a pyramid scheme with one guy called Pastor and Elders below him. And many Elders can serve. No need to keep the same Elders Pastors as they may get burned out.
    In fact, there is more scripture discouraging financially benefiting from the Lord work than encouraging it. Paul received some food, maybe a pair of sandles. Items to meet his basic needs. No more. Car payments, homes, and paying for the Ministers Children is excessive and unbiblical. 1 Timothy says all men are to support their own households especially, otherwise they are worse than infidels (unbelievers). Meaning all men with families are to EARN money to pay for their families. NO where in scripture do you find this as an example. Even the Priests in the Temples served about 2 weeks a year, all because they probably had real jobs and needed to support their families. Trust me, the average office of Pastor is so unbiblical anyhow. Please study Paul’s early church model, the examples of monetary compensation to meet basic needs, etc. And you’ll find the truth. Blessings, M

    • Mark says

      Thank you for your comments on cherry-picking scriptures. I don’t think any of us want to be guilty of that.
      It’s refreshing to know that you seek to abide by all of the teachings of the early church.
      I wasn’t sure that anyone actually followed Acts 2: 44-45 anymore (44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.) But from your response above, I’m now convinced you must, since to do otherwise would mean you picked cherries right around those two verses.

      • Dan says

        Laziness is condemned in other passages of Scripture while hard work is praiseworthy (For example Romans 12:8; 1 Thess. 5:12). I join the chorus of Scriptures that would warn pastors against that sin. Most pastors I have been around are anything but lazy.

        Now, in an effort to ensure that we are not cherry picking what Scripture teaches about pastoral salary, lets look at 1 Timothy 5: “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
        Many pastors do follow Paul’s example as tentmakers and many churches follow Paul’s words to Timothy about paying their pastors well. Let us not flatten out what the Scripture teaches about paying pastors. Many seem to pick and choose the passages that support their position. Both sides have Scriptural support, but when you deny the legitimacy of the other biblically supported position you do so at great risk to the church and to the authority of Scripture. If a church needs a full time pastor, then they should pay him a full time salary given that he will not be able to manage the demands of full time ministry and another job, at least not for long. Likewise he will end up being an absentee father because all he will have left for his wife and kids will be scraps. If a church does not need a full time pastor, then he should be willing to work a second job to support his family…and no pastor I know of is unwilling to do this for His Lord and His family. If you believe you have an example of a lazy pastor I would refer you to 1 Timothy 5:19.
        Blessings brethren

        • destiny says

          There is no such thing as a full or part time pastor. God has given ALL of us gifts and we are to use them WHENEVER we can. There are supposed to be multiple pastors in a church anyways because no one person can pastor hundreds of people effectively so there shouldn’t be any reason why one person is suffering a burn out.

      • destiny says

        No need for the sarcasm. And we should have all things in common. Let all Christians get a 9 to 5 so as to not burden others for money and donate to those who are TRULY in need- children and widows. Not to those who are able bodied and able to work a regular job!

    • Adam Reynolds says

      Using your examples, Paul was a traveling evangelist with no spouse or kids, and made mention, several times, of other churches supporting his ministry while at churches that were unable or unwilling to do so. Also, Jesus laid down carpentry when He entered into full-time ministry, as did Peter, and Matthew, etc… Jesus’ full-time ministry was supported by those He ministered to enough so that he required a treasurer. And there was evidently enough petty cash in the treasurer’s charge that he was able to skim off the top and the ministry was not severely impacted. Is it safe to state that most churches require more of the average pastor than what the Bible lays out as so-called pastoral duties? I would say so. Many times if a person carries the title pastor, it is assumed by many congregations that pastor is Greek for indentured servant. while there are a FEW who lavishly abuse their position, that should not be leverage used to force the average pastor into indentured servitude. If you take issue with paying a pastor, I have a compromise for you. stop paying your pastor for being a pastor, but pay them well for the mountain of tasks they are responsible for on a daily basis that go waaaay outside the biblical model of pastoral duty.

  60. Steve says

    Thanks for your insight Dr. Rainer. I’m in a church plant that is about to eclipse 5 years. Budget decisions are only made by 3 pastors on the Elder Board (but we have 5 Elders) with no congregational input and little transparency. Pastor salaries are displayed as a line item instead of individually and the lead pastor is still soliciting about half of the budget from outside support. Out total budget last year was disclosed as $800K and we have a weekly attendance of about 300. Is this problematic? Should I be concerned about moral hazard here?

  61. Chrisnol St Ilis says

    I’m currently looking for a pastoral job in a southern baptist church. I will be getting my ThM in the Spring of 2014 from DTS. Is it too early to start apply for a pastoral job? How does the process looks like? I will be 30 years old. What should i expect in terms of pay and benefits? I married with no children. I’m currently looking in the State of Texas and Florida.

  62. Mark Stewart says

    There will always be those on church boards and governing bodies in churches that deep down believe that ministry is a service for the Kingdom of God rather than a paid vocation. While I believe that ministry is a service, if one is engaged in full time ministry, one has a right to be fairly compensated. Today’s church is a bit different than it was 50 years ago, even small rural churches are seeking seminary trained pastors, I can assure you, as a third year college student, even though I am 53 years old, college education is extremely expensive. By the time a complete my Masters studies, I will be on the hook for 80000.00 in student loans. So as I accept a pastor position, budgetary issues are a concern, i am certainly not in the ministry to get rich, my treasures are being stored up in heaven, as I am sure 90+percent of ministry leaders agree, I will however need to meet my modest lifestyle expenses and student loan repayment. it is not too much to ask that salary be enough to cover that. i guarantee, that anyone not involved with full time ministry has no clue of the time demands of the job, there is preparing sermons, counselling, marrying, burying and baptizing, visiting the elderly and shut ins, continuing education, special programs, missionary, and the list goes on. I know of no pastor that works less than a 50 hour week. just my two bits….

  63. says

    Thank you for your posting. Two of your points really hit home, we have our parsonage and utilities come out of our pay which brings my actual pay down to working fast-food 30 hours a week. The second was your last point I almost feel like I am being pushed out because of money concerns. I love my Church and I try my best to love our little community of hermits but I see very little options left for my family except to make that cliche move to a Church in the suburbs.

  64. Tiffany says

    This post is awesome, a lot of great point of views. I never knew how much of a debate this was. This is why most pastors won’t preach this, because its so sensitive. I am not a pastor but I can say when you have pastors that give you the word of God like mine does, and you see the fruit of your tithes when our church can pay a policeman salary that was on the chopping board for layoff, 12000 ytd people fed, 3000 people clothed, transitional housing for people in need where WE pay their rent and utilities, 12 people who has had foreclosures cancelled, where blind eyes have been opened, the deaf can now hear, I myself am a living witness of eczema free for four years. Who cares about how much we give our pastor. They will never get what they deserve, I just pray that all of you word based pastors truly receive heaven here on earth and also receive a double portion. I give tithes, offering, building fund, and directly to my pastors and won’t loose any sleep about it. I will give generously on every occasion. And I’m not done receiving my harvests because I’m not done sowing…… Be blessed

  65. Robert Smalls says

    Pastors should not be paid as they do nothing to benefit society. If they are paid they should be taxed like everyone else that does a job possibly at a higher rate because they don’t contribute anything meaningful

    • G. Jensen says

      I would argue that pastors do contribute in ways that provide meaningful benefit to society – it’s just that many are able to do fine in life without the interaction of belonging to a church community. There’s also weddings and funerals where those wish to have them handled within the context of the church. If the pastors are doing their job, then they are teaching people about what is right and wrong and how to live in harmony and peace with other people. The problem today, is that too many people just want to go to church, feel good, and socialize – people don’t want to hear about sin, repentance, and how they should be working toward less self-centered materialistic living.

  66. Benny Farsdale says

    We are all shepards of the lord and we must serve out of our hearts rather than seek financial compensation. Jesus did not draw a salary. In our selfish society we must do as Jesus did and live and love without expectation of reward.

  67. Chris says

    Do you have any information on Youth Pastors? I would like to know how many Youth Pastors are forced to work “other” jobs to care for their families. I beleive that like Pastors, Youth Pastors/Leaders struggle to focus on leading their youth groups becasue they are pulled in so many other directions (Family, Church, Work, etc…)

  68. robin alexander says

    Is it proper for a pastor’s sister-in-law to be on the chairperson or even a member on the church’s finance ministry. And what about his brother being on the finance ministry to sign checks. Where can I find information on these issues as they seem to be a conflict of interest?

  69. G. Jensen says

    Many pastors find themselves performing the role of counsellor, which I don’t think should be in their job description unless they have formal education credentials in the counselling field. Of course, additional salary is most definitely needed for this type of work. Pastors frequently burn-out from the stresses and emotional toll of counselling, particularly in small churches where there are no other pastors on staff. I would suggest that counselling be done by a professional other than a pastor, whether in the context of a church or outside agency. To me, being counselled by a pastor and then attending the same church creates a feeling of awkardness – particularly when the issues being dealt with are of a highly personal nature.

  70. anonymous pastor says

    I worked for 7 years as an Assistant Pastor in a large church. After being asked by the Sr. Pastor when being hired from the congregation to pray about what I would need for a salary, I was led to give him a figure of 40,000. I had been a Deacon and lay leader for over a dozen years, graduated from the same Bible college as our pastor and knew he made 109,000 and the other assistants both made between 55,000 and 70,000, so I thought my request presented a humble start and left reasonable room for increase. For some reason unknown to me, he crossed out my 40,000 with his pen and wrote 36,000 saying “This is all I can do.” (I thought it was a test.) I spent 7 long years 24/7 at his beck and call, cancelled family vacations 3 years in a row because he said “You can’t go” and NEVER got a raise. When I brought it up after my 5th year, he accused me of being a hirlling. He had began treating me with personal cruelty and became unbearable in private. Our church treated my wife like an outsider because she worked outside of the home and helped pay the bills. We recently moved away- the pastor made like we were going to start a new work and coerced me into repeating the line “for the good of the ministry” so that the people wouldn’t know the difficulty between us. Everyone of our friends thought I made way over 50,000 and that my wife just worked for a little spending money. I love those people and that church, but something is rotten in the pastor’s office.
    I was there all the time, all day Sunday, teach Monday night often, teach Tuesday night, service on Wed night, oversee Thur night, run Fri night group, attend Sat night mens group, plus the regular office hours, plus the Special Meetings. plus visits, hospital, jail, etc. I grew to feel hated by my pastor and God, He brought another assistant on staff part-time and paid him 30,000 for 2 days a week plus some youth activities he had been doing already as a lay leader. None of the deacons could raise the the issue of staff salaries because it was disloyal to the CEO sr pastor. Because there are over 1000 people who could be hurt by this, I chose to leave and move away and would like to remain the Anonymous Pastor

    • Paul Baker says

      This kind of “A-typical” church administration is, fortunately, quickly becoming the norm of the past. Slowly but surely the attitude toward Sr. & Jr. pastors is changing simply because these pastors are changing. It’s not only the congregants who want more from their ministers, but the ministers themselves are desiring more from the Lord; a ministry similar to that of Jesus’ ministry. Finally. Once that begins to take place within the local church, we’ll see the attitude of ministers and congregants alike change for the better.

    • Pam says

      You sound like a gem that our church would love to have. Our part-time Pastor gets $40,000. for 20 hours a week. He charges members $400 for funerals, advent and Lent services are extra also. We have around 55 a Sunday, most are over 65.His wife was friendly till He got established and a member now she is only there on Sunday, does nothing for or with the church women. We are having trouble making budget, having money for oil heating. I have a question, He works for us, can’t we ask and receive an accounting of how he spends our time?
      Many times you say a pastors pay…ours decides how his is broken down, housing $32,000, salary under $1,000, pension, He opted out of SS, and so on. So don’t say to me, how little we pay, he qualifies for food stamps. Many of us are worse off them Him.

    • Tony Taz says

      Very sorry about your experience, but you make my point. Many pastors treat others (paid or unpaid) like hirelings. I know of a pastor whose church hosts a large couples retreat every year. and every year at the end of the retreat an offering is taken for him and his wife. The truth is many people in his church contribute/volunteer hours upon hours to make this retreat possible and he walks away with the cash on top of what he is paid when he could put a stop to it and say enough is enough. It is embarrassing for people in his church. Now he has decided to put a man in the church (a wannabe pastor) over the retreat event so he has more time to speak as an evangelist in other churches (of course accepting a purse every time he preaches). I have learned over the years that pastors are their worst enemies. By the way this pastor is always talking about how giving he is. How that his family likes to give. A few years back the church bought him a very nice vehicle he then “sold” his old beater to a fairly needy family in the church. I could have fallen over when I heard it.

  71. a disciple says

    Hello all enquiring minds.
    An interesting read.
    I am the son and grandson of pastors.
    My Grandfather never asked for a salary, pastored a small church of around 60 people, and insisted that any offerings beyond basic building upkeep went to supporting foreign missions. He of course worked full time to support his family (and contribute his tithe)
    My Father was salaried at various percentages of full time – for the final few years full time, and I saw the benefits that a full time focus to the ministry could bring (including the clothes that I wore and food that I ate).
    I’ve been part of the (unpaid) “eldership” of several churches, and I’ve been a part of the salary setting process. This has never been a particularly easy process, and although we’ve been generous (to the best of our ability, including exercising faith to see God fill the gap), I’ve never personally felt comfortable when salary occupies a significant proportion of church income, as little is left over to bless the community, and much focus is given towards raising money (as a consequence of the salary burden)
    Right now – and for the last few years I have been an unpaid “pastor” – of a church of around 80 people. I don’t really consider myself a pastor, but I co-ordinate, lead, and have financial oversight of a group of believers, and seek to discern God’s will for my life – and as other sheep walk that path with me, I share with them what God is doing in my heart – and they share there hearts as well.
    I also work full time in a challenging, and financially rewarding engineering management role – and God has blessed that work over the past 3 years.
    I don’t consider the two roles particularly separate. I do take care to not let my church role impact my ability to deliver value for money to my employer.
    I do very much enjoy the freedom that comes with being unpaid.
    No-one asks me to justify what I’m doing, what vacation I’m taking, or what I or my family spend our money on. (yes as a PK I know that people ask these questions!)
    I value the lack of need to compete for church members.
    We don’t mind if people walk with us, and we bless them when they choose to fellowship with others.
    It’s easier to value the poor members if we are not mentally assessing their tithing capacity (I know I’ve done this in the past! – forgive me Father).
    There is much less stress involved for me personally (spiritually) as my sense of self-worth is not wrapped up in my ability to “manage” and grow a group of believers. If the sheep find better pastures elsewhere then maybe I’ve done the job that the great shepherd has called me to. I can then enter into his rest as well!
    I not sure why I’ve typed all this, other than to re-iterate that I’ve seen all sides of the “coin”. Godliness with contentment is great gain. There is no one right way to finance church leadership. Just remember that the church belongs to Jesus (he said that he will build it) and that he is the great shepherd which we serve. We MUST not lord over the sheep – but serve them diligently, humbly and as brothers and sisters in the faith.
    I pray that each of you will receive your reward, and prosper in the will of Christ, and that wherever you are, the Kingdom of God advances.

  72. Courntey says

    I appreciated this post, thank you. I also appreciated many of the comments as it gave perspective about how a pastor’s salary is viewed. When my husband went into the ministry, we sold our house to pay for seminary, then he was called to a PCA church that pays him 32,000, but it will drop to 24,000 in a few months. We have 7 children. Since this is a small town, there is not another job he can get, as our cars are old and we really can’t take the chance on driving into town every few days for a job that pays minimum wage (if our car were to break down, we could not afford another. I stay at home and homeschool our children) . So, for us at least, 32,000 it is. Our church is doing the best they can to afford to pay us, and we love them. However, at some point we may have to leave for financial reasons, as the children are getting older. Because they are homeschooled, one pair of shoes is all they really need, and they are not consumed with a materialistic mindset, so God is providing well for them and protecting their hearts from envy.

    That is our experience.

    I do struggle over money, and would like it a little easier, but in America, you don’t often get the chance to suffer for Christ. Perhaps only having one pair of shoes for the children and eating beans and rice 5 times a week is our suffering… not too bad compared with what other people are called to do for Christ. Sadly as a sinful person, I do not always have that mindset. Again, thank you for your post.

    • a disciple says

      Hi Courntey,
      thanks for the reply… it does sound like a challenge to be in your position (understatement). I’ve prayed that our Father will continue to bless and provide for you – and that you and your family experience his love and fulfilment.

  73. mss says

    I am astounded by the number of people who think a pastor should go unpaid. A legitimate, ordained clergyperson is required to have not only a bachelor’s, but also a master’s degree. This is expensive! When my husband felt the call to ministry, we sold our house and moved with our two young children to student housing at the seminary. He has now been in the ministry for 14 years and makes little more than he did when he started (about $30K). He has to listen with a smile on his face when people like teachers with less education and experience whine about their salaries because he would be considered mercenary and unfaithful if he complained about his. We are tired of hearing how is “real pay will come in the next life.” I work full time as well, and we barely make ends meet. We have no savings. His pension account constantly loses money due to stock market dives. The church likes to propose that he work part time and get another part time job. His response is always the same: “What would you like me to stop doing? What part of my job is not necessary?” As it is, he works an average of 60 hours a week, sometimes many more when multiple funerals come up or members are in the hospitals or in crisis and need his attention. And people would have him do that for free?? What I wouldn’t give for them to offer him that measly starting teacher’s salary.

    • Tom S says


      First off, I like the name, but lets be clear about your FIRST NAME….it’s either Tom like mine or Thomas….not sure why you added the M or forgot to add AS……a little name lite humor, OK? LOL

      Now, to why I came to your blog here….I was looking up “Why pastors shouldn’t get a salary” and came across this, so I had to comment.

      Folks, men or women, will DEBATE until the cows come home on a plethora of topics in the bible, salary being one of them, but let me just address your POINT #4 above: “Many pastors are under extreme stress because they do not have adequate income to meet their financial obligations.”

      OK, let me get this sraight Doc (I respect your title and your academic background), pastors are under major stress because of so many things they have to pay for in life? Are we talking house payment, car payment, clothes for family, food for the house, which cover a few of Maslow’s Basic Needs of Food, Clothing, and Shelter. So after that, the only SECULAR financial obligations are what I like to call BEING OVEREXTENDED with things the pastor or his family NEED or WANT.

      What I trying to say or going with this is, if a Pastor is hired to a church, with FINANCIAL ISSUES, then that pastor is not a good steward of his own finances and shouldn’t be hired to lead anyone.

      Next, wasn’t Jesus a carpenter, meaning he had a job that apparently he collect a wage for his work, but his teachings or spreading God’s word was a GIFT FROM GOD and that’s what God wants from all of us anyway, to be evangelists to the world and spread the Holy Gospel……not every asking for money.

      Also, wasn’t Jesus ALWAYS provided for when he went to towns such as Cornith and others? Didn’t folks wash his hands and feet, cloth him, feed him, give him a place to stay? NO MONEY NEEDED, RIGHT?

      In other words, and I will use a televesion show as a secular example. Remember the wholesome show called “Little House on the Prairie”? Well, in those days, no basket, no offering, no salaries, nothing but the same way the Catholic Church does it in modern times…..a Home is provided for that pastor called a Rectory, transportation is provided by the church, food, a uniform or clothing. and a small STIPEND for things like maybe a Gym Memebership to workout the body or temple. For incidentals like toiletries or maybe to go out to see a movie or get burger once a month.

      So, why not just do what the Catholic Church does in the Christian churches. The church does like the TV show above, put a house for the pastor and his family on the property next to the church. Give him a company car or like others alluded to a PACKAGE DEAL (Car, Clothing, Insurance, Medical, Dental, Food Stipend, etc…) and as far as the extra things for the Wife or kids, the wife could work, the kids can get their own job if 16 or older and if younger, then you basically tell your wife and kids NO to any secular WANTS they think they need that would put them in FINANCIAL TURMOIL….understand Doc?

      Living as a pastor should be one of Lead By Example, with NO DEBT, no bad spending habits, and NO NO NO SALARY at all that would jepordize the family and have him get in debt based on secular society wants or needs. Maybe the Christian Church should rethink their Pastors should remain unmarried just like Paul did, to remain focus on spreading God’s word and not dividing time with a wife or kid, which takes time away from being a full-time pastor. The Catholic Church does it right with priests no salaries and not allowed to have wife or kids……plus they live on the property and are not bogged down by secular debt.

      What say you Doc?

      • Mary says

        So, because the pastor is called to a church, the wife should then neglect her own children and familiy and enter the workplace? Meanwhile having to put her children in a public school where they are introduced to all types of materialism, not to mention pay for all those clothes and shoes and bag lunches and projects? I am so irritated with this reply. How dare you assume that a pastor should not get paid and force the wife to work, neglecting now their own family, which was his first calling? To demean the office of wife and mother by saying that the pastor’s job is so important that his own children should live 8 hours at a public institution and hers is so frivolous that she may go into the secular world and provide all the things her husband can’t because of the church not paying enough is truly absurd, unbiblical and as a woman I find it incredibly insulting. I hope you will rethink this response. I know this sounds harsh, and it is meant to. ‘Christian’ men need to stop ignoring the biblical mandate that God gave women of staying home and raising children. Let the reader understand: Ministry does not mean husband preaches and wife protects. Ministry does NOT mean husband serves others, wife makes the money and government instituions raise the children. IT is NOT the church’s job to make the pastor suffer for his decision to serve the Lord. I am thankful that my husband did not take this selfish view, and allows me to stay home. I would rather my children go without shoes than go without a mother.

    • Tom S says

      @mss – this is why christian church pastors SHOULD NEVER GET MARRIED….your time divided with wife, kids, etc… and God is a Jealous God. You married this guy knowing what to expect.

      LIVE BY SMALL MEANS….. Folks can live very comfortably without any 30K a year, if the church provided your husband with a home at the church. Your food was provided, your car, gas, lights, phone, etc… and then, your civilian job as a wife, could pay for the incidentals your kids all want, extra clothes, games, school stuff, etc…

      The seminary and college costs…..churches should PAY ALL a pastors seminary costs FREE OF CHARGE, because he was called to do it and this way, once again, his room, board, tuition, etc…. ALL PAID FOR….just like if your husband got a FULL RIDE college scholarship for football or academics….they should do this for pastors….then, when he arrives at this first church for duty, NO DEBT and all is well.

      But, good ol’ marriages to pastors get screwed up because of SECULAR SOCIETY, that’s why.


      • mss says

        First of all, we were married for 12 years before he was called to the ministry. Should we have divorced?
        Second, no, we could not live on my salary alone. We do have a parsonage, but I have never heard of a church who would stock the kitchen. They reimburse his business mileage, but certainly do not give us a car. We have real life bills to pay, and we do, by necessity, live very simply. Your scenario of the church providing all of this is completely unrealistic.
        Third, a pastor graduates from college and seminary BEFORE he/she gets a church, so all of that must be paid for. No church is bankrolling your theoretical “full ride.” Again, completely unrealistic.
        Fourth, I resent the implication that our marriage somehow “screws up” my husband. I try to provide a refuge for him when he has to recover from people such as yourself.
        Fifth, he is a professional, which extensive education and training, and deserves to be treated as such.

  74. Tom S says


    First off, I like the name, but lets be clear about your FIRST NAME….it’s either Tom like mine or Thomas….not sure why you added the M or forgot to add AS……a little name lite humor, OK? LOL

    Now, to why I came to your blog here….I was looking up “Why pastors shouldn’t get a salary” and came across this, so I had to comment.

    Folks, men or women, will DEBATE until the cows come home on a plethora of topics in the bible, salary being one of them, but let me just address your POINT #4 above: “Many pastors are under extreme stress because they do not have adequate income to meet their financial obligations.”

    OK, let me get this sraight Doc (I respect your title and your academic background), pastors are under major stress because of so many things they have to pay for in life? Are we talking house payment, car payment, clothes for family, food for the house, which cover a few of Maslow’s Basic Needs of Food, Clothing, and Shelter. So after that, the only SECULAR financial obligations are what I like to call BEING OVEREXTENDED with things the pastor or his family NEED or WANT.

    What I trying to say or going with this is, if a Pastor is hired to a church, with FINANCIAL ISSUES, then that pastor is not a good steward of his own finances and shouldn’t be hired to lead anyone.

    Next, wasn’t Jesus a carpenter, meaning he had a job that apparently he collect a wage for his work, but his teachings or spreading God’s word was a GIFT FROM GOD and that’s what God wants from all of us anyway, to be evangelists to the world and spread the Holy Gospel……not every asking for money.

    Also, wasn’t Jesus ALWAYS provided for when he went to towns such as Cornith and others? Didn’t folks wash his hands and feet, cloth him, feed him, give him a place to stay? NO MONEY NEEDED, RIGHT?

    In other words, and I will use a televesion show as a secular example. Remember the wholesome show called “Little House on the Prairie”? Well, in those days, no basket, no offering, no salaries, nothing but the same way the Catholic Church does it in modern times…..a Home is provided for that pastor called a Rectory, transportation is provided by the church, food, a uniform or clothing. and a small STIPEND for things like maybe a Gym Memebership to workout the body or temple. For incidentals like toiletries or maybe to go out to see a movie or get burger once a month.

    So, why not just do what the Catholic Church does in the Christian churches. The church does like the TV show above, put a house for the pastor and his family on the property next to the church. Give him a company car or like others alluded to a PACKAGE DEAL (Car, Clothing, Insurance, Medical, Dental, Food Stipend, etc…) and as far as the extra things for the Wife or kids, the wife could work, the kids can get their own job if 16 or older and if younger, then you basically tell your wife and kids NO to any secular WANTS they think they need that would put them in FINANCIAL TURMOIL….understand Doc?

    Living as a pastor should be one of Lead By Example, with NO DEBT, no bad spending habits, and NO NO NO SALARY at all that would jepordize the family and have him get in debt based on secular society wants or needs. Maybe the Christian Church should rethink their Pastors should remain unmarried just like Paul did, to remain focus on spreading God’s word and not dividing time with a wife or kid, which takes time away from being a full-time pastor. The Catholic Church does it right with priests no salaries and not allowed to have wife or kids……plus they live on the property and are not bogged down by secular debt.

    What say you Doc?

  75. Jacob Wagner says

    Wow . . . . I am speechless with some of these posts but am better informed because of them!

    Great article, Thom.

    A big thank you to all the pastors and their wives who have poured their heart out, in their respective situations, on here. Took a few hours to read through all of them but was well worth the time. It was hard to hear people of God’s Kingdom attacking fellow brothers and sisters. Everyone received prayer tonight!

    If there are so many people on here who consider themselves children of God then how much greater of a need is there for leading people into a deeper fellowship with our Lord and Savior? So many know the truth but few have a personal relationship with our Father!

    Our society and global civilization is not the same as it was in Jesus’ time. Today’s leaders need to understand a modern culture in order to reach those with an ear to hear. We need to adapt to the problems and issues of today without sacrificing the costs associated with God’s gift of mercy. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

    I do not possess a professional degree in Theology or Biblical Studies but greatly appreciate their sacrifice in academic credentials. How much more knowledge does a Medical Doctor (MD) have over a Nurse with an Associate of Arts? The Nurse is undoubtedly talented and a great resource but the MD can heal so many more people who have vastly more complicated sicknesses. The Pastor with a professional degree has more education than both and is spiritually equipped to aid in all facets of life! Not all people who are sick need to see the MD but what a blessing it is to see them when you need to. Different needs must be met accordingly.

    All communities within Christ’s body need their flock tended to differently. Pastors, with the proper professional credentials and spiritual guidance, will do more than bless a church and its community when they are properly compensated for their knowledge. God will pour so many blessings into church members through a Pastor . . . only if, the community allows it.

    • mss says

      You state that, ” The majority of pastors in America do it for a job not because they were called by God.” Please cite your source.

  76. Richard Richer says

    I think any and all support that comes from the New Testament for local clergy has been taken out if context. Clearly these men were missionaries not stationary men able to keep a job. I hear pastors all the time speaking of the 10 percent tithe, why us it you only give Old Testament scripture, because it doesn’t exist in the new covenant. Listen if people want to pay pastors for going what they should fine, but I refuse. Way to much of a church budget is allocated to salaries but just senior pastors but music, youth, administrators, secretaries ect.. The. After that you have building expenses and program expenses. How much is going to the orphan and poor sadly not very much the money never makes it past the walls. Many seem to think that the church us nothing but a building that needs to be managed and have someone on call to visit sick ect.. Most if but all church congregations gave retired people who would love to visit the sick instead of saying we need one man to do it. I think when it’s all said and done we will all answer to God for how we handled matters concerning church and I feel much more comfortable and confident knowing salvation is free, so should being part of a church. Help the poor, the children, the widows not the man who is capable if working like everyone else. Then asking you to do all the volunteering to keep thier programs running. This model is contemptible and the church founders would roll over in thier graves. Man up preach the gospel for free for it is given freely, we don’t need more buildings and programs we need people who love jesus, people are the church. I ride

    • says

      The creation is God’s. We, as humans, are part of His creation. Why did God create? The answer may not be what we can fully comprehend in these three dimensions but there are some general themes we see.

      Being honored with thanksgiving appears to be a theme repeated over and over in the Old and New Testament. He is the master of all and is honorable. He is the Father of Spirits and should be honored for what He has done. My work and your work are allowed by him and are 100% His.

      Money is not the root of all evil but money is a pathway of control. Who are you controlled by? Not everyone will admit it but we are all slaves to a master. To trace back all masters they ultimately end with God or Satan. Honor is everything in our world and the multiple spiritual dimensions most are not familiar with. Physicists can currently prove 11 dimensions with 3 we physically operate in.

      How do you honor your master?

      100% of our time and income belong to our Creator. Is it selfish to not give back 10% of our income and/or time? This is not a requirement of God but putting our faith in His hands and giving Him control and reign of our life puts us in our proper place. If a sinful parent gives physical things and monetarily aids their children then how much more will a perfect Father give to His children? He wants to see us reach our potential and flourish as much as possible; more so than any person on the face of the earth!

      The body of Christ is vastly different in many ways and the only requirement for acceptance is to accept His free gift of grace for our unpaid sins. None of these words are to say a pastor should or should not be paid a salary. It is all about perspective.

      Richard Richer, who has given you knowledge to interpret God’s spoken word and dictate what is right and wrong in ALL of God’s churches within His Son, Jesus’ body? Is it safe to say you do not know the hearts of all in every country and circumstance to judge if a pastor should work or should not work outside the church? It’s all about perspective and spending more time on our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to best understand how we fit into this world; we are waiting for all to be wiped away and so we can go to our final home.

      Are all pastor’s leading a church and its follower’s in the most effective and efficient way? Probably not. There are many examples of leaders making decisions without God’s approval. None of us are perfect and all are sinful; God’s shepherds need to lead by example so others can follow and dig deeper to know Him.

      Taking that leap of faith and giving Him control of our finances is a hard step to take in the journey. You have a valid point for not wanting to pay a pastor but I do challenge you, if you do not currently, to give money to what you believe will further God’s kingdom and see where it takes you. Keep fighting the good fight and leading a life worthy of your calling. Continue searching out Him on your journey and discovering His hidden treasures!

      • Bible College student says

        Forgive me for jumping in here. I came across this article and I was grieved by all the comments.

        For one, Christians who are posting on here who are lashing out in a rude manner should get a hold of themselves and read again in Scripture that what classifies us as Jesus followers is our LOVE for one another. If we act out of impulse and not out of Love, we only give ammunition to those who create and stand by their views of stereotypical believers.

        Believers and non-believers, I pray that my post would educate and maybe shine God’s beautiful light on your hearts that you may find and embrace our Savior.

        Second, pastors, like stated above, go to college to become pastors for upwards of 5 years. In a private Christian university, it becomes expensive. How can we (I’m in school for ministry) pay for that? We also desire to have families and homes. How can that be paid for? Having a full time job on top of having to lead a body of 200+ people and families not of our own sounds awful. Pastors do charity work, travel on missions and local missions, study for amazing amounts of time, run errands for many in their congregation, and have countless visitors coming in during the week for council, bible discussions, and prayer. I feel bad often when I ask my pastor to have bible discussions with me because I know he is always strapped for time with lunches and meetings. It’s a lot of work that goes sadly unnoticed by society and media. And I’m sure if it were brought up by the pastors, many would be criticized for complaining about doing something they “should do anyway” or some other false statement.

        Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want to point out that Pastors are also a member if the Church. That is JESUS’ Church. They give as well. Not just in deeds but in money. Pastors often pay for many things such as food for events, supplies for the church, church bills, and many give generously to people who need financial help. We are men called by God to give wherever needed. We’re part of the family of Jesus Christ. Being in a family consists of supporting each other in all cases. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that people out there, believers and non believers, drop the fact that EVERYTHING in our lives including the Church, the Bible, our families, and our relationship with Jesus, BEGINS. AND ENDS. WITH. LOVE. It was God’s LOVE that created us, Gods LOVE for us that compelled him to come off of his throne to die for us, it was God’s LOVE that is ingrained in every humans heart. Love is taken out of everything once money is involved. It just goes to show that many of us are easily overcome by greed, and I’m not innocent of this. Early in my walk I struggled with not wanting to give. But God’s opened my eyes to see that everything we have is a gift. And, I know it’s cliché, but it’s true that its better to give than receive.

        I pray that by Gods grace our selfish ways can be put behind us, so we’re able to learn how to walk, talk, give, and serve in LOVE.

        I love you all, and “Grace of The Lord Jesus Christ be with you”,


        Jesus’ repentant disciple

    • Chad Kibodeaux says

      I have read some of these comments about pastors and I have honestly been shocked at the contempt that some have for their own pastors (assuming that they are truly faithful members of a church). Have some of you forgotten that even Jesus had a treasurer and that His ministry was financed by others? For those who believe the disciples and apostles were worthy of compensation because they move from one place to another as missionaries, but that pastors are not worthy of compensation, may I ask if the young pastor Timothy, whom Paul mentored was worthy of compensation? And may I ask how much of your personal finances you contribute to missionaries each month?

      Why is there such a resentment toward pastors held by those who call themselves Christians? The office of overseer or pastor is a good thing according to scripture. It is included in the five-fold ministry. As a youth pastor and now as a pastor I have noticed that it is generally true that church goers who are the least faithful, are the least reliable and give the least amount of time and effort and finances toward the advancement of the gospel are generally ones who expect most from their pastors, and who seem to be the most vocal with their criticisms. I guess the part that makes me most sad about some of the comments posted by many people on this site demanding that a pastor serve without compensation is that they most likely have (or had) a pastor that prays for them and loves them despite their contempt for him.

      Being a pastor is the most difficult thing I have ever done. My church compensates me with a salary that is in the “average” range, and I am grateful for what I receive. Only my wife and kids really know the time I put in as pastor. I can assure you that it is not a 40 hour per week job. I work hard, but so do those I serve as pastor. I can promise you I don’t do it for the money, but it seems based on these comments that some church goers want to be served rather than to serve. To be honest I wish I had not read some of the judgmental and critical comments made by some who understand neither the call or the duties of a pastor. Their comments cast a dark and disturbing shadow on the American church.

  77. David Potts says

    I can’t imagine why you would think that it is in any way appropriate for the government to be dictating to churches what they should or shouldn’t pay their pastors. The whole notion is WRONG!!
    Firstly, the churches of the New Testament have their own governing power. The church at Jerusalem did not tell the church in Antioch how to handle their finances, nor did the church at Rome (New Testament, not the behemoth there today) tell the churches of Galatia how to handle theirs.
    Secondly, and in spite of the clamor, the New Testament does state that the laborer is worthy of his hire, and the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. Furthermore, the scripture goes on to instruct us Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. While the principles are steadfast, the particulars are vague, so as to allow each local church to conduct their affairs according to the principals set forth without being forced into a “one size fits all” administration of business. Knowing these things we can conclude that each church should conduct their own affairs, paying their pastors what they think is right and what they are able within the parameters set forth. Sub-point 1, Pastors should be paid if the church is able to. Sub-point 2; if an elder (pastor) labors well in the word and doctrine, it is not unreasonable to pay him twice as much as the average congregant makes (double honour). Sub-point 3, in churches with wealthy congregations, no one would respect a man who only made $50,000 a year. God expects his called servants to walk worthy of their calling, and He would have the people they minister to respect them, even revere them. If the minister transgresses, which is possible, he should be called into account by at least two witnesses of his own congregation. Sub-point 4, if abuses result from lack of government regulation, that is not the government’s concern- it is God’s concern who said Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
    And finally (for now), have you ever heard that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We call it the First Amendment, which though it has fallen into the lame sound-bite of “the separation of church and state” taken to infer we must hide our Biblical devotion and discipleship; it really means that the GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS TELLING CHURCHES HOW TO OPERATE. This would certainly include setting a cap for their ministers. Consider that if a cap for pastoral compensation was enacted and enforced, how long would it be until a minimum wage for pastoral compensation would follow. After all, only the government has the wisdom to regulate all of these things. If a church couldn’t afford to pay the minimum would they be forced by the government to close their doors? Would independent start-up churches be blocked at the on-set by government regulation?
    Many of the men listed on the WhiteHouse petition webpage as examples of the errant pastors are either not pastors or are more than pastors. They have ministries that are beyond the local church, and some of them are outright flim-flam con-artists- do we need the White House to pass a law limiting what a church can pay a pastor because of con-artist? Should that also preclude a pastor who has additional income from whatever source (investments, royalties, side business, working spouse, etc.) from being paid a fair wage for the labor he bestows on behalf of his congregation?
    Let me end by stating the obvious: signing a petition to put a cap on pastors’ salaries is foolish and dangerous and reeks of the totalitarianism of state socialism, perhaps you have not thought this through.

    • ms says

      Don’t Worry David – the petition charges that the “pastors” are stealing from God. The Obama administration, not exhibiting any concern for God in other areas of their government, is unlikely to do so in this case.

  78. Reginald Bellamy says

    Thank you so much for posting this article. I am a pastor and this article deals with very import issues that many of us face.

  79. R says

    Don’t forget that God will payback what is due. Remember this and know that there is no limit to what you may give of yourself. I’ll tell you that you wouldn’t comprehend what is entrusted to me. Darkness is a reality in places in plain sight, ironically where the opposite should be. God turns many things upside down wisely.
    Seek. A large number doesn’t change even when truth is handed on their doorstep, though you see they continuously attempt some form of repentance. Pride and stubbornness, deafness and death.
    If you want to comprehend and be brought to what great faith was promised to us, look to the horizon constantly and commit everything in your possession.
    Seek and ye shall find? It was the promise for ages and it is an age where we are desperate to seek while the world degrades and gets dry.
    To you who is reading this, committing this, I’m not telling you where the door is yet. Have hope, which I’m reminding you. Truth says that an existence without limit or lack, without uncertainty, with God, is so close that you should be ready before nightfall.
    Now, to all of the ones writing here about finances, I’m in the market for a job and income like many. Have no worry about what you’ll eat. Know that if you’re in good standing, if you starve to death in your stomach, you’ll be quenched in life always.

    • Jacob Wagner says

      Wise words from someone who knows how to discern the spoken word of God.

      This life is quite the journey!

      It is not our job to conform others to God’s ways but we can aid in bringing them to the footsteps of Jesus. He is the one who penetrates their heart through actions and deeds. Those He has taught know who is truly at the helm of all. His ways are not always understood without the Holy Spirit but they are perfect.

      When our focus is on Jesus and keeping His commandments the rest of life falls where it needs to.

  80. Mark says

    I do not understand why pastors cannot perform services and hold down a day job. Perhaps it is that I do not hold doctrine in high esteem, but I cherry-pick one idea from Zwingli: Let every man be his own priest. I would prefer clergy with day jobs. I suppose we’d need more of them, in order to cover all the bases when schedules get in the way, but when clergy are volunteers, I trust them more to stay on track. While I do not doubt that many pastors at small churches are paid very little, there are also clergy at churches who are paid obscene amounts that cannot be explained away with references to “expenses.” (A very large church in northeastern Florida comes immediately to mind.)

  81. says

    I live in a rural part of Georgia. The church is quite large for the area of about 600 at 2 separate services.. The church has grown from 200 attendance to 600 attendance in the last 7 years. There has been 3 building projects and 3 million $ in debt. The pastor requires his pay to be a % based on church members. He makes a 6 figure salary plus a benefit package plus half of his personal items paid for such as housing which he has a 600,000.00 house a 50,000.00 car, clothing, food, utility, travel, gas, plus a debit visa for anything else. He has deacons in place to take care of the body of Christ. There are 6 to 12 families per deacon depending on family size. Our pastor will not be hindered by the church body unless there is a funeral or wedding. He says if someone calls the church needing him the deacons are not doing their job. My husband is a deacon and I’m a deacons wife. The deacons and other elders in the church takes all the burden of the church off the pastor. He stays at the church or at home all week and studies the word for lessons while others take care of the body. Our pastor is taken very well care of, he has no stress at all. He also has 8 fulltime staff members to help him during the day with what ever he needs. Most in the church thinks His pay and extras is quite excessive, but this is what he asks for and we don’t want him feeling underpaid and over worked. So the church body does most of the work for him. He says if he’s there for one, he will have to be there for all, so he doesn’t really know the people, he just runs the office and does the sermon on Sunday.

  82. Dee says

    I have no problem with my Pastor getting paid, but I do have a problem that there’s no budget committee, his pay is a secret. He say by law he don’t have to tell the congregants. We are his employer. Why not discuss his pay and others in the church that are getting paid. Our budget is presented as past expenditures and projected expenditure. Finally, shouldn’t churches be audited? Our Elders (Deacons) don’t know about our financial status and won’t speak up. Help me to understand. I ask questions and usually get a hostile respond.

    • mss says

      This is an issue with your church’s form of government. You don’t say what your particular affiliation is. In the American Baptist Churches, as well as several other Protestant denominations, there is a budget committee, who recommends the salary (as well as the entire budget) to the board, who then puts it before the congregation for a vote at an annual meeting. No secrets allowed. Also, all expenditures above a certain dollar amount are also subject to board and possibly congregational approval, depending on the thresholds outlined in the church constitution.

  83. Peggy Smith says

    Is there any place in the that speaks about the pastors being involved with the budget of the church. What does God say?

  84. Tim F. says

    I was raised a “PK” (Preachers Kid); my father is a minister in a Pentecostal denomination. I am now a deacon in my church and have a lot of insight on this matter. First and foremost; treat your pastors well! They make a HUGE sacrifice to minister to you. The call on their lives do not negate the stress they deal with on a daily basis; deaths, marriages, family issues, and the everyday pettiness of congregants (what do you do all day? why didn’t you visit my aunt Suzy in the hospital two states away? How come you didn’t shake my hand? etc.). Ministry is a thankless job, and one must be called to do it. NO minister does it for the money, and it is insulting that congregants bicker over paying salaries.

    My father served faithfully as a minister for over 40 years, and at the age of 75 still preaches on occasion. His retirement salary? An $800 social security check and a $129 retirement check from his denomination (because churches never paid him anything, and he and my mother raised three children, they never had the extra cash to pay into a retirement fund). Although my dad lives in subsidized housing for the elderly, I’ve never heard him complain, nor would he. He would do it all over again.

    It is true; ministers AND their Family are owned by the church. All your pastor wants is to be appreciated; love them, pay them well, and you’ll have a prosperous church!

  85. John says

    Some of you people like to use scripture way out of context. And just beat people over the head with your religious views. Your the exact type of person Jesus spoke against. And stop using Paul and Jesus as examples for Pastors. They werent Pastors in the context of who your talking about should be paid

    • sp says

      The Lord has opened my eyes to this very thing lately. He has caused me to be a berean and to question many things going on today in the corporate church. The thing that is bothersome is that Jesus is used in a way that is unbiblical. Jesus gave us Paul as an example of what is to be with leaders within fellowship. I truly believe according to scripture, Paul was more of a missionary that brought people together in communities for fellowship and to help people. Pastors were considered teachers and men that were to protect the people, similar to what we call Sunday school teachers. I truly don’t believe according to scripture that one man call pastor should be front and center making a career on the gospel. God calls these men hirelings and Jeremiah has nothing good to say about pastors that take from Gods people. Giving an offering and helping with ministry needs is one thing but what goes on today in the man made corporate with pastors is entirely not what God had in mind nor is their position biblical. It’s as though every thing that goes on today with the gospel of Christ is to make a buck off something or somebody, while very little goes to helping the needy and spreading the gospel how God intended.

  86. Sharlene says

    I have a question. In 2009 God spoke to me about giving our pastor a pastorial offering every first Sunday. When we take up the offering, we take it up in baskets. we do not count the money, we give it directly to the pastor. Should we be counting the money and putting it down in the books? or can we just give it to him as a monthly gift without counting the money. please help. Because we want to do the right thing.

  87. Taka Nzombe says

    most of us dont have an idea of what we talk about, the church members are demanding, thay want to have you ready for them daily and being available. Never mention sunday. I am living in Zimbabwe, getting less than 50 dollars a month, still faithful and depending on God. Now the church is 7years old since we started. The best favour every church can do to its pastor is to ease stress from them by sufficiently looking after them. For details, contact me here

  88. Chatrella says

    I have a question what is taxation in the church? Is it right for churches to hold members accountable for taxations? I know the old testament had a legalistic tithe method but in the new testament it doesn’t hold the members to those standards. My concern is not just for the pastors but also for those who do not have funds to aid nothing but tithe and offering …also I know sometimes even tithing can be challenging. I know the Pastor and the congregation is not to bully people into giving God does the convicting.

  89. Bi-vocational Youth Pastor says

    I am a bi-vocational Youth Pastor, and I have a real hard time with putting everything I have in my secular job and giving everything I have to the ministry and raising my family the way the Lord intended for me to. The church I am currently at cannot afford to take me on full-time currently. I struggle keeping things together and I only minister to the youth primarily. I can only imagine how much more of a burden it is to do work a full-time secular job and pastor at the same time. There will be pastors who abuse their power and authority and shame on them, but don’t hurt your man of God, because someone else blew it.

    The best way to look at it is, You are not paying for your Pastor to preach, make hospital visits, study, manage the church, you pay him in order so he doesn’t have to work a secular job so that he can do all of those things.

  90. Valerie W. says

    I read the above article and I totally agree that Pastors should be paid for their vocation. Reading some of the comments, it is amazing how we can use bible scriptures to justify injustice to Pastors. Wow.
    I have been to churches with both scenarios. At one church the Pastor had a full time job and he also pastored full-time. I am sure he was thoroughly exhausted all of the time and it was only the grace of God that kept him from day to day. At another church the Pastor has worked without a salary for the last 4 years and struggles monthly to meet personal needs. In a perfect world I might agree with Destiny Cambell when she says that the elders in the church should help share the responsibilities of the church equally to take the burden off the pastor, however I am quite sure that there are some duties only the pastor can do. Also, prayer and giving has been at an all time low, so even if a pastor wanted to live off of the goodness of the congregation; trust me on this one, they would be hard-pressed to survive. One final comment, most church members are busy with their own jobs, families to take on further responsibilities than the current ones they already have at church…after all..I think that’s what God designed the Pastor for. :)

  91. Concerned Layperson says

    I am really struggling with the situation going on at my church. My pastor once told under frustration that he believed that God brought him to my church to “kill the church, to watch it die”. Because he was under a lot of pressure at the time, I did not think much of it, however, these words were burned into my mind, never to be forgotten. Red flags went up, but yet I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was just having a bad day. So I continued to have an open mind to what he wanted to do in the church. I supported him in every way I could. This was about 3 years ago. Ever since then, he has been trying to shut down ministries in a round-about way. Every time he says he wants to do something, the next hour he will deny ever saying anything about it. He talks a good talk, but he does not do the walk. He has stopped all outreach in the church, and now he wants to shut down the children’s ministry. Granted, we do not have many members. We average approximately 30 in Sunday School and maybe on a good day, we will have 45 in worship. Our numbers have been declining since he came about 5 years ago. Especially after he made that “comment” to me. I am so frustrated. We now have a church health team (of which I participate) going over the details. This weeks meeting left me with my feathers so ruffled that I did not want to come back. It only confirmed to me what his plan was for this church. He wanted to kill our church and watch it die. Our budget cannot handle his pay. Our bank account is being drained each month. Now he wants to cut all the ministries of the church just so that he can have his salary. To keep up with his salary my church needs to bring in at least $1,000 a week. We are not able to do this because we do not have enough members now to support this. He says one week he wants to find ways to bring in young families, but then he wants to shut down ministries to do that. This does not make sense to me. He is so wishy-washy. His anger and frustration has been showing more often now, especially at the last church health team meeting. Most of the members of the church want him to leave. He wants us to keep him until the fall but I do not think we can make it that long. He first offered to have his salary cut by 25%, but now he does not want to do that, instead, just shut down the ministries. I am so angry over this whole situation. I feel bad for his 3 boys. His wife has a control issues. We had an awesome praise team, but then when she agreed to play keyboard for us, she started pushing others out of the team. She wanted to become praise team leader. She placed so much pressure on the praise team leader at that time, that he stepped down. Then she started making stupid rules like if you were not part of the praise team, you could not participate in the service, and of course, her husband went right along with that. So, others started dropping off the praise team because of the talent we have in the church, and soon it became her show. She placed her 3 sons up on stage playing instruments. Now she is happier more than ever. There is no enthusiasm like there was before. Her sons show no interest in being there on stage. I am now on the praise team, and it feels like it is just a “Pastor’s family” time. There are other issues going on as well. The pastor calls himself lazy. Even though he gets paid a full time salary, his is only in the church office for 2-3 half days. He will come in at about 9:30 or 10 then leave at about 1 or 2 for lunch and not come back. He just stays at the parsonage. He does not visit people in the hospital unless someone pressures him to do so and he won’t go see the homebound. It’s almost like he wants to get paid just for sitting in the pastor’s chair. I’m sorry. I should not be complaining nor should I be talking about a pastor like this, but I don’t think a pastor should be behaving like this. I am confused and worried. I pray every day and seek God through this situation. I thought pastors are suppose to care about the church, not let it go down the drain on purpose. I feel like I could just scream every time I go to church. Is there any advice?

  92. says

    I would add, that all throughout the Torah, it was clear that the inheritance of the Levites, or the “pastors”, was God himself. His FIRE and very person was the reward. No earthly inheritance was promised to them….. The New Testament examples were NEED based as far as Paul, while the other apostles were allowed to not work a “job” and also bring a believing wife along. Lets set our standards high, and not stop preaching the gospel until money gets in the way… But, if you are faithfull preaching teh gospel, the LORD will never allow finance to come between! This in fact was the Boast that Paul would rather “die” for – the boast that he did not rely on anyone for his ministry!

  93. Andrew says

    There are a variety of problems with arguing that a pastor should not be paid. I’m sure most pastors would love to be able to live without a salary but for the vast majority of them this would require them to sacrifice the care of themselves and their families. If the Lord calls a family to that so be it. But, men do not have the right to place that on others.

    Many of these comments are also making a mistake of creating a sacred and secular divide when it comes to work. The Lord’s first command in the garden is to work. Scripture is consistent in defending the rights of the worker and the pay of the worker whether that is the farmer or the priest. Yes, being a pastor is a different job from engineering but both are work. Many on here are arguing that if a pastor really loved God and people he would work for free. In the same line we could then say that if a doctor really cared about his patients he would work for free. Being in the care industry does not require a person to not receive compensation and care for themselves.

    I am well aware that many ministries and churches are not in the financial position to fully support their workers. And if the Lord calls that minister to sacrifice in that way for the gospel then praise God for their faithfulness and give additional prayers for preservation. But, for a congregant to not even have the desire to care for their pastor reveals much about their heart. You want them to care for you but you don’t even have the desire to do likewise? In the states we often do a really lousy job of submitting to those in spiritual authority to us.

    Instead of being so worried about the bottom line… maybe Christians should start being more concerned about their brothers and sisters in Christ…. even if they are a minister.

  94. says

    A lot of comments have mentioned the fact that Pastors are overworked and should delegate more responsibilities to the underutilized church members. My question to those of this school of thought is, “how many of you are willing and able to volunteer at least 3hours of your day EVERYDAY to the church?”- and not only in the evenings AFTER work, but at 1pm in the afternoon when that sister who went through that thing that time urgently needs help, or when it’s freezing outside at 10pm and you are all cuddled up with your spouse but your attention is urgently needed in the church. Can you combine a 9-5 with these demands? How do you then expect someone else to? What percentage of the congregation are matured enough to handle a lot of the stuff Pastors handle. There is so much judgement, unforgiveness and backbiting in the body of Christ that, the problems of many are only safe in the hands of very few.

    You’ve talked about how a few of the new Testament apostles had secular jobs, but do you not see the difference between being a tent maker(probably working your own hours) and walking a 9-5 job in an office somewhere where you might be required to work even longer hours? Or because (s)he is a pastor means (s)he should take secular jobs with more flexible hours? Ignoring the fact that these jobs are often characterized by their instability meaning s(he) could very well be out of a job in the blink of an eye.

    I am neither a Pastor, nor am I even closely related to one. But as an active volunteer in church, i see the work my Pastor puts in, especially with a congregation as large as ours- over 20,000 people. He delegates a lot of stuff, but as volunteers increase, so does the size of the church. I volunteer as much as i can, but because i work a regular 9-5, and don’t get home till late due to the horrible traffic situation (something that more than half of the congregation experiences), i am not ABLE to do all I’d like to do. Even if the other half of the congregation wanted to volunteer to cover the shortfall, when do we take into consideration the fact that they may not have the right skills or calling to do so?

    Taking a closer look at the scriptures some have used to back up their points……..

    Matt 10:8 (AMP) “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.”

    This does not mean a Pastor should not be adequately compensated by the body of Christ, but that (s)he should not charge to allow the power of God flow through him e.g. refusing to cast out a demon unless a certain fee is paid.

    What’s more interesting is that no one reads the verses after…… Matt 10:9 (AMP) “Take no gold nor silver nor [even] copper money in your purses (belts);And do not take a provision bag ora wallet for a collection bag for your journey, nor two undergarments, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the workman deserves his support (his living, his food).” The support talked about here is FROM THE CHURCH! From YOU! So if you are not willing to let Pastors be paid fairly, then you should be willing to house them, cloth them and provide 3 square meals for them and their families. LUKE 10:7 (MSG) Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.”

    1 Tim 5:17-18 (AMP) “Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honor [and of adequate financial support], especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain, and again, The laborer is worthy of his hire “

    And in the Message translation – ”Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

    Malachi 3:10a (AMP) “Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, “

    Numbers 18:21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. “

    The barest minimum a Pastor should receive is the tithe YOU pay. If God leads you to give extra, then so be it. But the bible clearly states that the tithe YOU pay is to feed the Pastors for the work they are doing in the house of God.

    God bless

  95. Ken says

    As I started to read through these comments, it has blown me away. The lack of respect many of you have for for your pastors and other ministers in your church. My pastor is one of the hardest working men I know and what he does is very much needed and appreciated. His role is just as hard work as any CEO, Farmer, etc.

    The one thing that I want to communicate is this; “The greatest commandment is this, love the Lord with all your heart and the second is like the first; love your neighbor”. It seems that everyone in the church always wants to criticise their church staff, but if you love them, you would pray for them daily. My pastor is compensated well, because that is our responsibility to do this, but for all he does he is underpaid. I give because I love to give my very first fruits to God and my church; It all belongs to Him and I am called to be obdient to His Word. So, if we love the Lord with all our heart, we will strive for complete obedience and be involed (SERVE) in the ministry God calls you to do. LET’S BUILD HIS KINGDOM!!!

    Make it a great day!

  96. says

    I hardly leave comments, however I read a few of the responses here Five Things You Should Know about Pastors’ Salaries
    – I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it just me or does it look as if like some of these comments come across like they
    are written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting at other online social
    sites, I would like to keep up with you. Would you make a list of
    every one of your social networking pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  97. Dalton Cunningham says

    It’s been interesting reading the blogs with so many opinions on how much a pastor should be paid and if he/she should get another job to support themselves. My wife and I have been pastors for 40 years. We are still serving suffering humanity to the best of our ability with God’s help. Not only have we planned weekly worship meetings, conducted Bible studies, conducted youth meetings, senior meetings on a weekly basis, but also served people in need on a daily basis. including battered and abused wives and children, served the hungry, provided groceries to those living in poverty, helped raise the money to pay for these services, responded to disasters both natural and manmade, feeding, counseling, comforting the bereaved. Many times the calls for help would come at inconvenient times but true servants of Christ respond even when it is inconvenient. It’s what we are called to do, it’s part of our journey as pastors and ministers. There is no way either of us could have considered taking on another job. This one has taken all of our strength and focus. And if I had the chance to do it all again I would. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination but have been able to provide for our children.
    Now both of our children are in Christian ministry along with their spouses. Our son and his wife are ministers, our daughter is a Christian marriage and family counselor and her husband is a professional Christian musician. We have five wonderful grandchildren who are being raised to love God and serve others.
    So those of you who have never served as pastors, you really don’t have a clue what we are called upon to do 24/7.
    Mega churches only represent about 1% of all the churches in America and those churches with more than 100 in attendance only make up about 10% of churches in America. Most churches avearage between 40 to 99 people. The staff available to help with church ministry is usually based on what the churh can afford to pay. The volunteer church members only make up about 20% of most congregations. So 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work while the 80% make excuses for not contributing time, money or talents to ministry. The 20% of the congregants who are closest to the pastors to see what they do on a daily basis would never be writing letters saying their pastors should work other jobs nor would they ever think that they are being overpaid for thier work.
    Serving Christ is still my heart’s desire. I must daily seek the Lord of the work before I attempt to do the work of the Lord. He is our sufficiency, our strength and joy. The Westminster catechism reminds us that the chief aim of man is to Love God and enjoy Him forever. When was the last time you enjoyed God and spent the day hanging out with Him! He is my joy giver, my provider, my all in all. Praise be to His Holy Name!

  98. Donna says

    Dr. Rainer,

    I have a question: I am from a modest church (about 75 – 100 people). I simply LOVE our pastor. He is a good man with a good heart. He was our friend BEFORE he was a minister; the groomsman at our wedding (his wife my matron-of-honor) over 26 years ago. He is a master plumber/heater and makes good money at it. He has a lovely home (paid for), and every member of their household drives a decent vehicle – absolutely don’t begrudge any of that. He is a very hard worker and goes above and beyond the duties of your typical “pastor.” I am truly blessed to have him not only as my friend but as my pastor as well.

    Here is the issue I struggle with: Our Finance Committee wants to upgrade his pay to about 1/3 to what he is probably earning at his primary job, in hopes that by continually increasing it he will quit his other job. The pastor has talked about that desire (for years) but I don’t think it will ever happen because (I feel) he fears not being financially “stable” solely as a pastor. He has worked 30+ years as a master plumbler/heater and I think that income supports the lifesyle he is comfortable with. Not only does he receive an generous income as a master plumber/heater, he also receives a modest income from the church among other perks (bonuses and $$ as gifts from the congregation) and he has been doing this for about 25 years – with the hopes of “one day stepping down from his primary job.”

    My concern is this:
    1. That his continued increase in pay is going to affect his ability to relate to the average person in his congregation. Already he has asked us to join his family for lunch after services but we can no longer afford the expensive resturants that his taste has grown accustomed to so we have to decline. Sometimes he will put his distaste for a lower cost resturant aside and join us but for the most part he will join others with more affulent means to a more expensive place to eat. Please do not take this as jealousy because that is not where this is coming from. I truly am concern for this man of God to be able to relate to the average people in his congregation.
    2. What I thought was extremly ironic, was these same men who were pushing to increase wages of the pastor, completely over looked, stepped over, the maintenace salary which has remained the ridiculous amount since the conception of the church (30+ years ago) – never having an increase! And this man lives on a very modest income. Like the pastor, he has never made a request for his income to be increased.
    3. I teach Sunday school (and have been for 20 years) and never thought to even ask to be paid (nor do I want to be). I study for hours every week and I also follow-up with my students during the week with a visit, a phone call or mailing them the lesson they missed. I am also a committee of one that does certain mission out-reaches. I, too, have a primary job outside of our church as a church secretary in a different denomination, part-time earning about $9,000 a year. Granted, I do not have all the responsibility as the pastor but it seems, to me, odd – even makes me feel uncomfortable when we keep increasing the dollar amount of someone who is already being paid handsomely while overlooking those who get paid just a “token” for the work they do. These are business men (Finance Committee) and sometimes I feel that their heart misses the spiritual aspect of the church body as we should all work together to edify the body of Christ.
    4. My concern is that if we continue paying our pastor the way we are, he will continue to increase his lifestyle and will be unable to live within the means of what the church can pay him, even if we could match what he is getting paid from his primary job, it would still be a step-down because he would not have the “extra” from the church. Do you follow what I am trying to say?

    Please, can you impart some words of wisdom that will give me peace about this? Regrettably, I have even entertained the thought of leaving the church because I just feel so uncomfortable about the whole thing. If our pastor, our friend, was solely dependent on the church, I would say “Give him everything he needs to live comfortably.” If he needed anything I would say to him “All I have is yours – what do you need?” I love him that much. But I think it has gone beyond need to………greed and that is what is making me feel uncomfortable. Not greed on his part for asking for more money (because he doesn’t ask) but greed because he accepts it. And I am also concern about these men over-looking the common man. It is as if they think that increasing the pastor’s salary will secure them a place in heaven – I know that is ridiculous to say that but the thought is there none-the-less.

  99. Dan says

    Our Pastor pastors over a small church of about 100 people. The church budget is 150K a year. We rent a building to meet.
    His compensation package is 90K. Average house here cost @ 200K
    Is this excessive?
    I think if a Pastor is meeting the needs of his congregation as a full time Pastor, the congregation should meet his needs. 90K seems a little much to me.

    • Shane says

      No, it’s not excessive. Try pastoring for a few years and you’d quit for 90K. Most people have NO IDEA of the additional expenses that pastor’s face, until they live in a pastor’s home. If you can’t afford to buy a graduation gift, baby shower gift, birthday gift, funeral wreath, etc… No big deal, right? Let the pastor neglect to do it… 50 shades of hell are unleashed. Just one example of an additional expense.

  100. Eugene Kabamba says

    There is no demonstration or reverence to show to make people understand that pastors should be pay, it is obvious that they deserve a compensation for the work they do. When God chooses, or decides to pay them, they receive more than what human beings can give them. It is an ultimate need for pastors to pray a lot for the church and for the themselves.

    Being close to God, they get a supernatural anointing which human beings cannot buy with their money and which is more than money. They can only reach this level when they forget about themselves and think more about the Church. In John 12.24, does Jesus teach that seeds must die to grow. Sufferings, tribulations of this world makes you grow spiritually. Accept to pass in that situation, and in front of you there is a glory.

    Pastors, your are parents. A parent cannot leave his family because the family is poor. He has to take that burden on his shoulder until something good happen, and if nothing to happen, he will still accept his fate. That’s in short what I wanted to say about this wonderful work of God.

    • Eugene Kabamba says

      Erratum: There is no demonstration or reverence to show to make people understand that pastors should be pay, it is obvious that they deserve a compensation for the work they do.

      I wanted to say: There is no demonstration or reference to show to make people understand that pastors should be pay, it is obvious that they deserve a compensation for the work they do.

  101. James says

    Our pastor rarely takes a paycheck and we have a mid-size crowd (200) but only 2-3 families give regularly and an actual 10%, need prayers.

  102. dennis says

    i have served in a small church for about 8-9 years and there is one bit of advice i can give you who serve. i have found that the biggest trouble makers and complainers in any issue but specifically issues pertaining to money are the ones who give very little in respect to their income or nothing at all. their issue is that they have a huge log in their eye (they do not have their own finances in order) another thing is that you can almost always tell when a person has issues they will start giving less or stop giving completely. if you notice this beware !

  103. Tom says

    If a pastor gets money for his work in the church then also the volunteers should get wages. This may cause that suddenly everyone wants to help at church.

  104. Phillip says

    My mind is blown by the amount of complete ignorance being demonstrated by some of the comments. Anyone who doesn’t think pastors should be paid or paid well can go get their Mdiv (which is required by most mainline churches and even some free churches) which if you take your vocation seriously you will go to a respectable and well known seminary after your undergrad and you will end up close to 100K or more in debt for just going into ministry. Then do your job for free while working another job (in field you don’t have a degree for).If you don’t think you need extensive training or education to be a good pastor then you are in severe denial. SMH.

  105. Thomas says

    Dear Thom,
    I was raised a roman catholic all my life and live here in the Bay Area. I have a specific comment in regards to your article: ” 5 observation of priests Salaries. Today when I went to my local church for mass , the new pastor of our parish mentioned the general idea on how we as Catholics should think about the idea of giving up basically all materialistic goods such as money, car, high paying jobs, survival needs and careers for example as a way of showing Gods trust. As I consider myself to be a branch or member of the Christian order in general as a Catholic, I believe and agree in sharing extra resources and helping others when you are giving so many blessings by GOD is right thing to do and is part of Gods plan.. But my specific point in regards to your article in my opinion is that, if any official priest/ pastor with all the graces, benefits and duties that come with that particular position ( like most other jobs in an economic based system using materialistic goods) yet require a person to achieve a higher level or standard of” spirituality” in reality to reach that specific level which is suppose to be above the level of most members and common people in the first place (being an official member or branch of the Christian order), Then how can you think about or demand the idea of excepting some level of materialistic goods like “Salary which involves money” when the priest puts so much energy, effort and focus on how we as humans have to suffer and deprive ourselves of the basic survival needs which involves some degree of excepting some level of “materialistic good” by society standards ?????

  106. Dewayne Hill says

    As a bi-vocational (Southern Baptist) pastor for over 6 years now, I can tell a new pastor many lessons learned. I work full time, take care of a sick wife (getting better), tend to our kids and help out around the house as much as possible. Struggle everyday with stress related to financial difficulty. One, there is no such thing as a “part-time” pastor. There will be members who will understand that you also have to feed your family. There will be those who think you should be at their beckon call. Two, your members will have to know every faucet of your daily business and life. However, they will never devulge anything to you. I actually had a member interogate my 10 year old to get information about where I had been that week. No where bad, I simply chose not to say to see what the reaction would be. Three, you will never, and I mean never, make everyone happy. Four, you will be questioned about your work for the church. Keep a visitation log always noting date, who, and what was discussed. When you do Bible Studies, provide the congregation with notes. Ensure you know what Sundays and Wednesdays are scheduled to be “no service.” If they do not have a church calendar, make it a point to get one. Understand the number of sick and vacation days the church provides. Remember, pastors get sick also. Five, you will always be reproofed by your members. They will have no problem pointing our your faults. Be prepared to have some difficulty. Many believe that pastors should be super human and never sin. It hurts to say that the church today does not represent that which, I believe, Christ wanted. Always remeber this, When a church begins to only see you as an employee and not their pastor and spiritual leader, it is time to ask God where to go next.

  107. Scott says

    Thanks for the education, DeWayne. I am currently a freshman seeking a bachelors degree in ministry and regularly worry about my projected ability to support my family as a pastor, and repay my student loans. I am more than willing to maintain secular employment if it is necessary, but it is certainly not my goal to require said employment forever. I do not expect to be rich by any means, but I would expect to be compensated fairly for my level of education in the field. There are only so many hours in a day, so it is only common sense that a pastor who is required to maintain secular employment just to survive cannot be fully commited to God and His ministry.

    With that being said, some of the comments here are absolutely disgusting and border upon insanity. Most pastors today, even if they delegate well, bear far more responsibility than the disciples of Jesus’ time. The disciples did not have homes, electric bills or other living expenses. The early congregations did not have buildings with bills, equipment, and other responsibilities, yet those congregations supplied the disciples with housing and food at the very least. This is not the society that we live in today, and the calling of ministry has been fundamentally transformed into a real, definable full-time (and then some) career since the time of Jesus.

    I write this with love in my heart, but I am compelled to rebuke those here who believe that a pastor (or anyone else who serves a congregation in a near full time capacity) in today’s society should not be compensated fairly for his time. If you believe that, you are wrong.

  108. Dan says

    I feel for you. It is too bad people are people. I would guess only a small percentage of the people cause 99% of the grief. It is that way in business. I always got rid of the customers that cause 99% of the grief.
    Unfortunately you cant do that as a Pastor.

  109. Alex says

    Scott, do you realize that most ministers outside of developed countries tend to not be paid well, by their standards, if at all? What makes the call to the ministry in the US so much more demanding and expensive?

    Also, every christian is called to a ministry in some form or another but most work regular schedules. Maybe if the church members took on more responsibility they could help alleviate some of the burden of the pastor.

    I am not saying that pastors should not get compensated fairly for their time and effort. I am simply stating that the entitlement that so many feel is not supported by The Bible.

  110. Amy says

    My husband is a pastor. I work outside of the home and am the primary breadwinner because he makes so little. We tithe 10% to the church and above that for other ministries within and outside of the church, because the NT commands to give all we have. We live in a very small house by US standards. We have one child and it is hard to find room for my medical equipment and the few developmental toys we have for our daughter. We don’t have the toys that most congregation members have, like blue ray, new cars, expensive smart phones, ipads, stereo systems, ipods, cable, internet, etc. We can’t afford them. My husband’s car is on it’s last legs and we can’t afford a decent used car. Mine is nine years old but thankfully paid off and still runs well. The church is in the process of making my husband full-time, but with the cost of insurance, I’ll still have to work unless he can manage the hours of a secular job, as well. He already works far more hours than is expected for a part-time minister. Why? Because, unlike all of these posts that talk about how the body of Christ is supposed to do the work and the minister is taking on too much and not delegating (and blaming him or her for it!), the body of Christ is not doing the work, and no matter how many times our pastors try to delegate, most people are too busy. I have a very painful disease and we can’t afford for me to quit my job to seek disability.

    You want pastors to live in the church building? Are you going to pay for them (lead and associate) to fix it up so that it is livable? Or maybe you’d like to do what the biblical Christians did and give up everything you have and donate all of it to the church so that everybody can share? Oh wait. Pastors should do that, but not you? When Jesus went from town to town, did he stop and construct something and sell it so he had money to stay at the inns along the way? Or did Christians take him in and house him and the apostles? So are you willing to take in your pastor, feed and clothe him?

    A pastor should pay for a car with his own money from a secular job, you say? And buy a house (such a luxury item) with his own money from a secular job? How do you expect him to drive to visit people? Should they all just come to him? And how should those shut-ins get to him? Are you going to volunteer to bring them or to pick him up and drive him to his visitations? To the hospitals and nursing homes? How about at 3 a.m. when he gets that call? Or at 10 a.m. when you are sick at home with a cold and the pastor gets a call that a church member has passed? Are you going to leave your job to take him to see the grieving family? Or if he has a secular job, is it acceptable for him to up and leave? It’s nice to say that all members of the Christian body should pitch in and do their share, but they don’t, and furthermore, the church today is not constructed the way it was back then.

    So until you are willing to sell your house and your land and donate it to the church and share everything you have with the church on top of working a job outside of the church and donating a good portion of your time to the church, then maybe it is time to support your pastors who often ARE bi-vocational, working 50-80 hours in the church and then working another job on top of that where they end up neglecting their families.

    Be the change you want to see. Until you are willing to live the destitute life you expect of your pastor, don’t expect it of your pastor (being that the body of Christ are all supposed to be sacrificial, giving of all they have to support one another).

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