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Should Pastors Be Salaried? July 5, 2010

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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This question of whether a pastor should be salaried is quite an interesting one as it throws up many controversial issues; nevertheless, it is a valid question which should be asked in Christendom today. In looking at this question we could equally ask, should “workers” in the church be paid for their services also? Should the choir be paid for serenading us with good music?  Should the ushers, the Sunday school teachers, the people who make the tea and do the washing up be paid as well? But more importantly, what of the other elders such as the deacons, bishops, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers, should they be paid also?  Evidently if all were to be paid for their services this would put an immense strain on the churches finances especially if the church is relatively small. In most modern churches there is one man or woman at the head who is the pastor and beneath him are the deacons and elders and the other “workers” but only the pastor draws a salary. But why should one group of people (the pastors) receive a wage for their services yet another group (the elders and workers) do not! Surely this status quo is not equitable?

 My personal experience of the Baptist church is that usually a Baptist pastor/minister would be in ministry fulltime and as such he would be given a monthly stipend decided upon by the deaconate. This would usually be a modest amount of money that would be considered reasonable to meet his needs and that of his family. The church may also provide a manse for the pastor and his family to live in, the expenses of which would be dealt with by the church. On retirement or resignation the pastor would evacuate the premises and find other accommodation, and the manse would be prepared for the new pastor. In my opinion this arrangement is reasonable and I have no problems with this at all. After all the scriptures do allow for those who minister at the altar to eat from the altar or in other words those who minister the gospel should be fed from the gospel. Where I have a problem however is where the role of a pastor is treated as any other profession and where he is expected to attract the market rate that other positions of a “similar level” do. One of the reasons why this problem arises is because when a pastor studies for four years or so to earn an M Div or higher qualification he is then seen as on par with other master’s level graduates who may attract significantly high salaries. Thus the role of a pastor is in some churches is seen somewhat as that of a professional in their field. Perhaps this is why the pastor is salaried and the other elders of the church who did not attend seminary do not receive payment.

In truth I am not advocating that any of the elders or workers should be paid a salary. However the church has a responsibility to meet the needs of those in their midst who are in need and this includes the whole church, not just a select few individuals. If we look at the church in Acts 2 and Acts 4 this is exactly how they operated. The people would bring their gifts and lay it at the apostles’ feet and this would in turn be distributed to the congregation according to everyone’s needs so that none lacked. Today however we have the opposite scenario where the pastor gets the lion’s share of the takings (tithes and offerings) and some who are in need do not get anything and are still expected to pay tithes as well. Whilst this might not be the case with the traditional churches like the Baptist, this is certainly the case with the mega-churches.

When Jesus called the twelve disciples and sent them out to minister the gospel, He told them specifically to freely give that which they also received freely (Matt 10:8). They were forbidden from collecting a wage although it was reasonably expected that those they came in contact with would meet their needs of food, clothing and shelter.  Likewise the gift of “pastoring” is a free gift which should be used/exercised in the church freely along with all the other gifts. However what we have done with organised religion is to create a system whereby one man stands at the head and speaks to a congregation for a fee on Sundays. Confidence is invested in such an individual because he has the requisite qualifications and therefore considered as a “professional” and in like fashion a suitable remuneration package is decided upon. However all this is foreign to the gospel message. I pray we may return to the truth of God’s word.

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Comments»

1. glasseyedave - July 6, 2010

Off with His head!

Now that the head of Christ is taken off, we now can set up our own head/heads and do it our way!

Those who are offended, how can you say Christ is your head when we refuse to follow scripture. We prefer the way of man.

2. 606 - July 9, 2010

Today’s “pastor/preacher” regularly take Paul’s exhortation in (2 Thessalonians 3:10) “that if any would not work, neither should he eat” to chastise sheeple about their responsibilities in the world to themselves and their communities. This while (knowingly or unknowingly) preaching to the laid off/unemployed – then taking the proceeds for ‘widows/orphans’ to line their pockets and feed themselves. They justify this by giving a free turkey dinner every Thanksgiving/Christmas.

Paul was talking about THOSE THAT PREACH THE GOSPEL!

(2 Thessalonians 3:6-10) reads:

“6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

7For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

9Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

1) This IS the example.
2) Do not follow anyone who does not follow this example.
3) We did not eat your bread for free, we worked.
4) We do NOT wish to be a burden nor chargeable to you.

Paul worked as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). He had a job. He did not live off the Word of God that was given – freely.

If “pastor/preachers” did not receive a salary, that would easily weed out a lot of foolishness in the pulpit.

3. Henry - July 12, 2010

606,
I agree that many pastors have become like greedy dogs (Isa 56:11, Jer 22:17, Mic 3:5), and many have ran greedily after the way of Balaam (Jude 1:11). Paul does show us some good examples in how he and some of the other apostles with him conducted themselves. Paul provided for his own needs and the needs of his fellow men with his own hands. But also the same Paul did make it clear that a minister of the gospel also had a right to be fed from it as the Lord ordains:

1 Cor 9
13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Paul says however that he did not use any of this lest he hindered the gospel. So for me ministers would do well to follow Paul’s example if possible but we should not lose sight of the fact that it was the Lord who ordained those who preach the gospel to live from it. However some have taken this further to abuse the gospel and place unnecessary burdens on the people in their congregations in order to get rich.

4. Unlettered and Ordinary - August 23, 2010

I am right there with you on salaried pastors. My brother is a pastor in Oregon, US and gets about $30K/yr, which is not much. But then I see his church gives him a home, car, insurance, etc. At this point he has a conflict of interest. He now has a vested interest in tell the members of the church what they want to hear. ‘Tickle their ears’, as the Bible says (2 Tim 4:3). I feel it is , at best, distasteful and , at worst, unchristian. Not the Bible principle at all (Matt 10:8, Rev 22:17).

None of the first century Christians were salaried. Those Christians did not ‘have’ ministers, they ‘were’ ministers. For each congregation there were ‘older men’ (i.e. elders) that shared the load as shepards of their respective congregations. And all the members were engaged in the public ministry work. They all did for free.

I also agree that the world today is different that it was back then. Those who choose a full time ministry cannot expect the community in general to feed, house, and clothe them. And many congregations are far too small to offer sufficient aid. In that case, the full-time ministers should live *very* simple lives (similar to taking a vow of poverty), and perhaps have a *very* modest salary. The cost could be spread across several congregations. Perhaps they could be allowed to borrow a car and live with one of the families in the congregations they are visiting.

But a salaried shepard? No way (IMO). Someone once said this to me, and I have always remembered it: “If a Christian shepard is living a life of comfort, they are not a Christian shepard.”.

5. glasseyedave - August 23, 2010

Henry,

I was thinking you should do a complimentary post on this discussing if churches should be non profit organizations that is tied to the rules of a government. Not sure how it is were you live, but here I look at the situation in disgust. Everyone who thinks they want to share the gospel believes they need to be incorporated first. Nobody wants to do anything without starting a ministry first.

If I still went to church I would wear a shirt that said, “God save us from yet another ministry, how about a movement this time.”

Haven’t seen you post much, how are you doing? I am concerned for you. Been imprisoned for preaching sin is sin?

glasseyedave

6. Henry - August 24, 2010

Unlettered and Ordinary,
Thanks for dropping by. I am in total agreement with your last quote. Indeed a Christian shepherd should feed the flock and not eat the flock – But the question is, are they really “Christian” shepherds?

7. Henry - August 24, 2010

Glasseyedave,

Thanks for your concern. I have had my hands tied up a bit of late hence the reason I have not done much posting. Haven’t been imprisoned as yet.

I think the approach to church here is pretty much the same really. Churches are mainly registered as non-profit organisations as they have to submit accounts to a public body. As such they have to abide by the rule of law.

I think the main driver for main churches to become incorporated first though is because their motive is money and their are rules which govern how charitable donations should be disbursed especially if you want to avoid paying taxes.

Your idea of a complimentary post is good, thanks. I might just right such a post.

Henry

8. The Church as a Non-Profit Organisation « Spirit of Discernment - October 6, 2010

[…] Gospel According to the Gospel” suggested that I put out a complimentary post to the topic “Should Pastors be Salaried”, to address whether churches should be non-profit organisations and subjected to government […]


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