Pastor's Compensation - Objective Standards?

At most companies, HR uses objective standards / qualifications / criteria to determine the salary ranges for employees. For example, one's compensation is often correlated to one's experience, level of education, job function, industry averages, cost of living, etc.

When it comes to a pastor's compensation, how is that determined? A better question is how should a pastor's compensation be determined?

Should the compensation of two equally qualified / educated / experienced men be different based on the size of their family?

Should the compensation of a man with an advanced theological degree right out of seminary be compensated more than a man who only holds a Bible degree but who has years of ministry experience?

Should the man's compensation be based on his wife also working at the church in some capacity?

Bottom line, what objective factors should go into determining a pastor's compensation?

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
Larry:My point was only that you objected to comparing business and ministry in terms of pay expectations, but Paul did not object to the comparison. Paul used it. He compared the pay of a pastor to that of soldiers, farmers, and shepherds, all secular businesses which are expected to pay their practitioners to perform them. So when a pastor is paid a living wages that includes enough to feed, house, educate, care for his family, that's not a problem. It's not a business venture.

Clarification of my comments about ministry/business comparisons is here: In conclusion and my opinion, a church is not an employer, nor can it really be compared apples to apples to any business model. While we can endeavor to be efficient in finances and operations, the definition of success for a church and a business are very different, so I think we should be cautious in any comparison of the two.

Success in business is defined by productivity and profit in measurable and definable quantities. The 'success' of a ministry is not defined by those standards.

Of course, the principle of compensation stands, and I have not objected anywhere in this thread to churches providing for the needs of their pastor. What I am saying is that the expectations of men (and women) going into the ministry should be based on the real world. If the primary responsibility of every man is to provide for his family, then they should be trained in such a way that they are able to do so whether a church position can support them or not.

Quote:
You said that a person who didn't have a back up job was irresponsible, and I think that is pretty strong. Being able to plumb, do electrical or carpentry or the like is fine. but I would stop short of calling it irresponsible if someone doesn't know how to do it.

It may be a strong statement, but I personally believe it wholeheartedly. And I did not confine the term 'back up job' to trades like plumbing or carpentry. Training children to have a marketable skill (or two or three) should be a goal of every parent, or why else do we bother educating them? We don't teach kids just so they possess knowledge, but so that they can provide for themselves and others. One of the principles of compensation we teach our kids is that they are learning in order to be a benefit to others, and not just so that they can consume upon themselves. Why wouldn't this be a vital lesson for a pastor-in-training?

I've known young men who were studying for and involved in ministries, supported by their parents, will not get a job because "God has called them to the ministry", and yet they have car loans and credit card debt. With that attitude, what kind of leader are they going to be? IMO they will be the kind of pastor who does not understand the life of the work-a-day Joe. They'll plan activities and launch ministries that take time, money, and energy, and then chastise their flock because their grand ideas are not being met by the congregation. Congregations are made up of families that have demands in their lives, and too many preachers who've never done anything in the secular world have no clue what it's like to be immersed in the world every day, not be able to take a day off or call in sick, or not have taken a vacation in 22 years.

So like much else in life, it's a two-way street. Churches who desire a full-time pastor should have as a goal the ability to support him completely, but men who have dedicated themselves to the ministry should be able to provide adequately for their families- and that means being able to do something that earns what they consider to be a livable wage.

Jay's picture

DJung wrote:
We need to teach and train men to complete an expository message in a maximum of 3 hours. Three messages 10 hours max. Visitation and evangelism another 10 hours. Work secular 20-30 hours. 10-20 hours with the family. This can be done. I used to write 7 messages a week. Now am down to 3-4.

I completely, utterly, and totally disagree with you on this, Derek. Preaching is the main job of the pastor - to handle the Word of the Lord rightly. I understand time contraints - I'm Bi-Voc. too - but to shortchange sermon preparation for other things flips Acts 6:1-6 on it's head.

BTW, I don't know of any full time secular jobs where you work only 20-30 hours. Mine is 40, and I have an almost 2 hour commute [all told ] one way to get to it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

RickyHorton's picture

Let me throw my hat in the ring as well to say that I completely disagree with several points djung has made. First, Paul did not refuse support from all churches. Someone else already provided Scriptural support for this so I will not belabor the point. Furthermore, Paul's point in the passage was that those that labored in the ministry should be supported by those that benefit from it. It was his choice to refuse in some (not all) cases. The norm here would be for the church to provide for the pastor.

I also agree with others that cutting down on study time is the exact opposite of what should be done. Isn't this why the office of deacon was created? Their whole purpose was to free the apostles to labor in the Word. Can a message be prepared in 3 hours? Sure, some are better equipped to do this, but in general you get a message that appears to be ill-prepared and contains a lot of fluff. I would much rather listen to a preacher that is well prepared and grounded in Scripture.

Scripture repeatedly supports the position that a pastor should be compensated by the church. I Cor. 9 is the only text that would say otherwise, and that option is only at the discretion of the pastor. Personally, I think it is a seriously bad testimony for a church to pay their pastor as little as they possibly can. Yet that is the case in "thousands" of churches across America. Certainly there are thousands of cases where church's cannot fully support the pastor, yet paying the pastor should be their first financial priority if they seek to follow Scripture. If the pastor refuses it, so be it.

Ricky

DJung's picture

Mike Mann wrote:
DJung wrote:
Paul made the point in 1 Cor. 9 that a pastor/elder/Gospel preacher has a right to "fleshly" compensation. Then he strongly states that he has given up that right and will not take any gifts or compensation. This is the higher ground. This is Paul's example and higher challenge. Why not challenge young preachers to aim for this goal and prepare for it as well? You can sacrifice the Right to compensation for a greater ministry among the lost and saved this is how I understand 1 Cor. 9.

Pastor Jung


Derek,
I think you have taken a wrong impression of what Paul intended here. He chose not to demand support from the Corinthians. He did not give up support from other churches.
Quote:
2Co 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

I'm not sure why but maybe the false teachers were abusing the Corinthians by demanding support and Paul chose to be different. I am sure that he was not offering a higher challenge to young pastors to ignore what he just taught.
Paul taught the Corinthians that they were to bless those who taught them spiritual things by providing their carnal needs.
Quote:
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

As also the Galatians. Did you ever notice that the sowing and reaping passage is in context with supporting the ministers of the Word?
Quote:
Gal 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Brother Mann,

Clearly the Apostle Paul teaches that churches should have a desire to give wages, support, and help to spiritual teachers, pastors, and missionaries. Believers should give to the ministry. The Bible clearly argues and exhorts concerning this practice. The "bi-vocational" point Paul makes, he does so by his example. But, Paul goes further in instructing the Corinthians in 2 Cor.. He states that he refused to demand wages or take wages from the Corinthians and states in chapter 11 that other churches gifts/support were received instead. He defends this practice of self-denial and sacrifice and states that he will continue to do things this way in his relationship with the Corinthians for good reason. My point is that a missionary, pastor, or teacher can be expected by God and determine in his conscience that he will not take any remuneration for ministry based on the same reasons given by the Apostle Paul. He felt this was both Biblical, Spiritual and necessary in the case of his relationship with the Corinthians. I am arguing that this is a valid model for ministry and those that minister should consider Paul's reasons and if so led do the same.

Pastor Jung

DJung's picture

RickyHorton wrote:

I also agree with others that cutting down on study time is the exact opposite of what should be done. Isn't this why the office of deacon was created? Their whole purpose was to free the apostles to labor in the Word. Can a message be prepared in 3 hours? Sure, some are better equipped to do this, but in general you get a message that appears to be ill-prepared and contains a lot of fluff. I would much rather listen to a preacher that is well prepared and grounded in Scripture.

Ricky

My comment on message preparation has drawn the "ire" of the SharperIron faithful. It is evident that the current paradigm of Bible study and message preparation which is advocated by those on this site goes counter to my opinion. However, this comment was not lightly made nor my analysis of the 3 hour goal formulated apart from much thought, experience, and consideration. Perhaps we need a new thread here. I believe that message preparation breaks down into three components, observation, interpretation, and application. The grammatical, historical, contextual, literal hermeneutic is the methodology I believe and use in creating messages. Observation is done by prayerful reading of the Scripture multiple times. Interpretation or meaning of a passage is approached with the presupposition that there is one right meaning and the Lord wants us to discover this meaning in the Scripture. Application of the Scripture depends on right observation and interpretation and prayerful consideration of the context of the listeners. Most preachers today fall short in area three...Application. Some don't do well in the first two areas either. Now, it is evident that many on this site believe that the more time spent on a message the better it will be. There was a time that I believed this but this is not taught in the Scripture. Additionally, it has not been my experience. My experience is that if I spend less than about 3 hours preparing a message it may suffer, but if I spend more than three hours preparing a message there are diminishing returns. There are a finite number of commentaries to read. Greek and Hebrew word studies and grammatical analysis yield help but don't always add to a message. I think men should be exhorted to be efficient in their study and preparation so they can spend time in prayer, in the Word, and in doing the same in discipleship with their servant-leaders, in evangelism among the lost, and not isolated from everyone for 30-40 hours a week in study as if the ministry were simply an academic environment.

I have much more to say about this and "bible college/seminary" education and expectation.

D Jung

DJung's picture

Jay C wrote:
DJung wrote:
We need to teach and train men to complete an expository message in a maximum of 3 hours. Three messages 10 hours max. Visitation and evangelism another 10 hours. Work secular 20-30 hours. 10-20 hours with the family. This can be done. I used to write 7 messages a week. Now am down to 3-4.

I completely, utterly, and totally disagree with you on this, Derek. Preaching is the main job of the pastor - to handle the Word of the Lord rightly. I understand time contraints - I'm Bi-Voc. too - but to shortchange sermon preparation for other things flips Acts 6:1-6 on it's head.

BTW, I don't know of any full time secular jobs where you work only 20-30 hours. Mine is 40, and I have an almost 2 hour commute [all told ] one way to get to it.

Brother Jay,

I will handle your statements from the last to the first. There are many secular jobs in which only 20-30 hours of work are done...not "full-time" but "part time". If you want to trade hours for dollars and committed to a vocation or view that this "full-time" then yes you will be working 40-50 hours a week there. If you want more time for ministry then find something that pays more per hour and requires less time. One suggestion, for aspiring preachers, pastors or teachers. Go back to school to become a dentist. After the schooling you could work 2-3 days a week and make enough money to easily fund your family and ministry. Four to five days a week of work and you could probably fund the entire church budget. Or become a medical doctor and open a free clinic at your church 1 day a week for outreach and evangelism, work 2-3 days, and then do ministry the remaining 3 days a week. Or become a lawyer they charge 200 to 300 per hour depending on the area. You only have to have accounts were you are billing for 2 hours a day on average to make alot of money. All of these positions take investment, hard work, intellectual ability and time but they are worth it. Or buy or start a small business. Lots more hours here but in the end if successful you will not have to work at all and the businesses will generate alot of money. I can give you many examples and testimonies.

Preaching and teaching is a main job of the Pastor (John 21). Handling the Word rightly and not lightly is important. I would disagree with you about the "shortchange" viewpoint though. I don't think you are shortchanging this activity by focusing three hours on one message instead of say 5 hours or 7 hours or 10 hours. If it takes you 5-10 hours to prepare a 30-60min message you may have too much to say. I doubt that the Apostles spent 10 hours preparation on a 30-45 min message, however this is just my speculation and opinion. I would hope that my team members would be efficient with their preparation time and that more time would be spent in impartation rather than simply preparation. 3 Hours preparation 45 min impartation and 5 hours of joint application. Preach and teach not only in Word but in Deed.

Ask yourself, how can I spend less time in sermon preparation and more time in imparting the sermon content to the flock not simply standing and preaching (necessary) but together implementing the message contents (doing evangelism training, prayer with the people, visitation, and helping the members). Reasoning and exhorting the lost takes alot of time. My concern is that we don't reduce the ministry to an academic exercise. Preparation is spiritual but need not take 30-40 hours a week of academic study. If you want to do that kind of ministry become a Bible college or seminary professor.

D. Jung

DJung's picture

Jay C wrote:
Becky Petersen wrote:
Of course, I'm not exactly aware of what pastors make in general, or specifically, for that matter. But according to the formula Bob T. gave above, wouldn't you be in the 60-100K range for salary plus benefits?

Well, he'd be the only pastor I know of, except for possibly one, who would be.

In my limited experience with compensation at other churches, fundamental churches (speaking for those in the West) generally compensate their pastors with much less money and benefits than new evangelical and liberal churches. My brother is a New Evangelical pastor and has been compensated much better than most men in fundamental churches. However, everyone adapts to their level of compensation and I think that most fundamental pastors I know of are content with their pay which says alot about their spirituality. 60-100K is not very much money in the Northern California Bay Area according to the world's standards. However 90% of fundamental pastors don't even make the 60K here. I think this is because generally their churches are smaller, their people are blue collar, and/or the expectation has been set low. However, in the average new evangelical church salaries could easily be set at 50-100K. I personally know of men that have turned down 150K plus because it wasn't "enough" for them to come to serve as pastor. Kind of exposes expectations and motivations though.

D Jung

DJung's picture

Larry wrote:
Derek,

It seems to me that your position seems to be inadequate due to the biblical teaching that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. While being bi-vocational is fine for some, it is not necessarily the biblical way, and in fact, a strong argument can and should be made that a pastor should not be bivocational, given the biblical teaching to the church to provide for the pastor. As Paul makes clear, in every other field of life, people are paid for what they do ... soldiers, farmers, even oxen. The pastor should be no different.

Bi-vocational seems, to me, to be a concession to a small church. I don't see it as being a biblical way of life for the pastor.

Furthermore, to make the pastor's compensation dependent on designated offerings does not seem a wise way to do it. Again, using Paul's examples, no one serves as a soldier and gets paid by people designation on their taxes to pay a soldier with X of their dollars. No one grows corn and expects free will offerings at the grocery store to be designated for the corn grower. Such ad hoc giving does not seem to be a wise way to provide for ministry, particularly since people rarely know the needs of the ministry in full. A budget is laid out to help guide that process. And if you object to business examples, remember, the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired Paul to use them.

So while being bi-vocational is necessary sometimes, I am not sure it should be the goal of the pastor, given the biblical revelation on this matter. And I am not sure it should be held up as the biblical ideal. Revelation doesn't seem to support that.

The Apostle Paul chose to work with his hands. Many pastors are relying on budgeted giving and receiving. It doesn't matter whether you budget for salary or urge the people to simply give designated gifts. If the money doesn't come in your stuck either way with less. I think that people will give what they want not what the pastor needs (this is just as subjective as what the people want to give). Pastors should have their expectations placed in God not in what the world's standard of living requires (evil world system). I am against the equating of the pastorate with a secular job, it is a higher calling and honor should be given to the pastor. However, the pastor ought recognize that in the spiritual battle for souls there will be the necessity to sacrifice and humbly set an example that does not rely on the giving of his people but simply on God.

I like the designated giving model, it may require more faith. That's a good thing.

D Jung.

rogercarlson's picture

Derek,

Before I worked any other jobs, I studied 30-40 hours a week and still did what you are saying. I put on average 60-70 hours a week at the church. I don't think i was all that unusual. Even now, I work about 20 hours a week outside the church and I still but in about 50 hours a week for the church and one of my jobs (the hotel) I can writre one message here. I think you are still rare....even with what you say...the average expository messge takes longer than 3 hours. It sounds like you can do it but most guys cannot

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

RickyHorton's picture

DJung wrote:

However, the pastor ought recognize that in the spiritual battle for souls there will be the necessity to sacrifice and humbly set an example that does not rely on the giving of his people but simply on God.
D Jung.

So, are you saying that a pastor that receives a salary is not relying "simply on God"? Why do you assume that receiving a salary from the church is relying on the people instead of God?

I don't think anyone disagrees with you that there are times when a pastor should be bi-vocational or that they should be prepared to be bi-vocational if necessary. The problem is when you make statements that suggest it is the preferred method when it is only your opinion. Or when you make insinuations that pastors are not relying on God when they receive a salary from the church. You said that "honor should be given to the pastor" and I completely agree. But statements such as the one I quoted above are a slap in the face of pastors that do receive a salary from the church.

The fact of the matter is that Scripture says that the pastor has every right to receive compensation for his labor in the church. It is the responsibility of the church to provide this compensation (per Paul in I Cor. 9). Scripture does allow for the pastor (as Paul) to refuse the compensation. It is as simple as that. To say that bi-vocational is the preferred method and any other way is not relying on God is simply an opinion based on eisegesis of Scripture.

Please take this with all due respect for your zeal and conviction that God wants you to be a bi-vocational pastor. But the church needs to realize its responsibilities to the pastor and there are many out there looking for "excuses" to pay the pastor as little as possible or nothing at all. I don't think we should give them any further excuses, but should tell them exactly what Scripture says about the matter.

Ricky

rogercarlson's picture

Ricky,
Well Said!

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Pastork's picture

DJung,

I would just like to add my own voice to what a few others have said.

Quote:
Paul made the point in 1 Cor. 9 that a pastor/elder/Gospel preacher has a right to "fleshly" compensation. Then he strongly states that he has given up that right and will not take any gifts or compensation. This is the higher ground. This is Paul's example and higher challenge. Why not challenge young preachers to aim for this goal and prepare for it as well? You can sacrifice the Right to compensation for a greater ministry among the lost and saved this is how I understand 1 Cor. 9.

I disagree that this should be considered the "higher ground." And I think one should be careful not to pit what Paul says here against his express teaching that churches have an obligation to pay pastors (such as in the passages already cited in this thread). I also think one should be careful not to take such comments by Paul out of the larger context of Paul's ministry, in which he clearly did receive financial support from churches. For example:

Quote:
NKJ 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 “7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”

NKJ Philippians 4:10-20 "10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

We should also remember that Paul adopted his strategy of forgoing his right to pay as a church planter, at which time he clearly received financial help from at least some other churches. We do not know that this was his practice all the time, however. It could very well be that while he was serving full time in an already established church - such as when he served for a time in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26; 15:35) - he did indeed receive compensation from that church.

My point is simply that we should not set one part of Paul's teaching and practice over against another as being some "higher way" when there is a better possible explanation and when we really don't have all the information at some points that we might need in order to correctly make such an assessment. And we should not try to make arguments that seek to set tent-makers or bi-vocational pastors up as somehow on a higher plane or more self-sacrificial in their ministry than pastors who are sufficiently paid so as to better focus their whole lives on pastoral ministry.

Quote:
My point is that a missionary, pastor, or teacher can be expected by God and determine in his conscience that he will not take any remuneration for ministry based on the same reasons given by the Apostle Paul. He felt this was both Biblical, Spiritual and necessary in the case of his relationship with the Corinthians. I am arguing that this is a valid model for ministry and those that minister should consider Paul's reasons and if so led do the same.

I am glad to see that you qualified you statements a little better here.

Keith

christian cerna's picture

The Scriptures teach us that we should show honor to, and care for widows in the church. Then it shows us that whatever honor/care we provide for the widows, that Elders are worthy of double that honor. There is your objective standard. Want to know how much you should give to the Elders in your church? First find out how much is being given to the widows, and those in need.

I doubt you will ever hear about this from Pastors though. I wonder why...

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