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By Michael Krauszer

It always seems to be a constant source of contention; how much should a pastor make, if anything? On the one hand, people argue that they are to be servants and thus can serve within the church as pastor while working elsewhere. They will cite the Apostle Paul and say that he had a tent-making job, then claim that modern pastors must do the same. So, it’s a question that is on a lot of people’s minds. The Bible, however, clears up any confusion on the subject. Here are 5 things the Bible says about paying pastors or church leaders.

5)   2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

If anyone tends to believe the Apostle Paul did not expect pastors to be paid by the church, I want them to read these verses. Yes, Paul had a tent-making job, presumably when working within the city of Corinth and Thessalonica. However, it is clear that it wasn’t the ideal situation. These verses readily claim that Paul had it very rough, simply because he did not want to burden the church with any of his own needs. Sure, pastors can have a servant-like attitude like him, but the congregation can also have a generous spirit and expect some of their tithing money to go towards the pastor’s salary.

4)   1 Corinthians 9:9-14

Once again, Paul makes a strong case for pastors getting paid by the church. Taking a passage from the Old Testament, he makes the argument that pastors should be able to make a living off of the spiritual work that they do. No sane farmer would muzzle his ox while he treaded grain, so why would anyone do that to a pastor? Paying him a fair wage for the amount of work he puts in frees him up to focus on the Word of God and on ministering to the congregation.

3)   Luke 10:7

Put simply, any worker deserves compensation for his work. If the pastor is putting in hours at the church office, counseling, visiting the congregation, mentoring others, and studying for weekly messages (sometimes numerous ones throughout the week), I think it’s a fair expectation that he gets paid. After all, the worker (read pastor) is worthy of his wages. If you’ve never realized how much the pastor really works, start tallying up all the times you see him at church. Trust me, as one who has worked inside of a church for a handful of years, I’ve seen firsthand how many hours the pastors and church leaders work. They are often in the office 5-6 times a week, make different weekly meetings during evening ministries, attend all or most of the church services, and then even find time to go to hospital visits and personal ministry calls. It’s a lot—they deserve to be paid fairly.

2)   Philippians 4:16-19

Wouldn’t you rather be a church like this? One that makes your pastor or church leader overflowing with praise because of the compensation with which you paid him? It is far better to give than to receive—yet, congregants often receive from the pastor but never give back. Something is wrong there…

1)   Acts 6:2

Although this verse is not expressly about paying pastors, it does have an implication towards that. If you want your pastor to be freed up to do pastoral ministry, he has to get paid. Plain and simple. If you agree with this verse, then how can you expect a pastor to truly focus on pastoral ministry with all his energy and efforts if he has to pick up a second or third job just to pay the bills?

Conclusion

A pastor should get paid by the church with a fair wage. He should never determine his own payment, but have outside board members come up with a fair payment for the amount of work he is doing for whatever size the actual congregation is. It’s understandable that people have become wary regarding pastors getting paid. So many of the televangelists and large churches have fallen into the public eye because of the expensive houses, cars, and jewelry that the pastors are wearing. It seems out of place, and probably rightfully so. However, it does not follow that a church should just cease paying pastors. The fact is, if they need people to do pastoral work—then pay for pastoral ministers! It really is true; you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay your pastors, chances are they get sidetracked with other work in order to pay the bills. Remember, a worker is worthy of his wages!

Some more reading for you: What Does the Worship Leader Do All Week Anyway?

31 Responses

  1. Brent

    Michael,
    I appreciate the time and effort you put into this article. Though I do have a few questions. Where do we find in the Bible,a plan for the church with lead Pastors? Also, are there any examples of ateaching Pastor being paid or is it just the Apostle Paul and his fellow missionaries? I feel like the modern church has become more of a business and less of a community effort. What are your thoughts on this? Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Brent

    Reply
    • Bryan

      I Cor. 9:13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

      Reply
  2. angie

    Some interesting passages used here. I’m just curious though – shouldn’t the whole church be serving the church – sure, those with a pastor gifting will be more pastoral, those with an evangelistic calling will be serving in that way, lead worshipers, teachers, and so on. Why should the pastor be paid but not the church member who regularly goes around giving food to those who need it, or the house group leader who buys their own resources and snacks each week, or the children’s worker? Having seen people say “I don’t need to visit the sick, that’s what we pay the pastor for”, I worry about how churches can grow well with paid leadership. OK, so in the OT the Levites were paid, but their duties were ceremonial and worship leading, and it was so important that they remained holy to be able to offer sacrifices they needed provisions to be made. They were not pastors. I’d love a response to my points please?

    Reply
    • Jacob

      There is only one pastor/leader of a church. That’s the only one the congregation needs to take care of. It is the pastor who is called to lead, not the worship leaders, not the church memeber, and so forth. Not to say that their work is least important at all. The goodwill that a fellow servant does unto others, are the good works that come about in your faith in God. To love our neighbors as ourselves. The pastor is the one who feeds the congregation with the word of God. That is why the pastor should/needs to be compensated for their work in the ministry. 1 Timothy 5:17 says that we should take care of those that bring forth the word of God well, for they are worthy of double honor. In our hearts is where we really need to search out for ourselves if it seems right to honor the man of God. God bless!

      Reply
      • Bosole

        God has goven uslife for free. Why should we pay for pastors praying for us

  3. Jim Crosby

    I am a church Media Director, a fancy term for sound guy (also over the lights, computer (presentation software), etc. The church now compensates me a small amount (that took 10 years to happen). I have 30 years experience and an audio degree so I’m a little more trained than the average church sound guy. I am the first to get there and the last to leave. I put in time during the week setting up, repairing, installing, etc. that takes time away from providing for my family and spending time with my family. I am glad to do it (in fact I know I am called to do it)but I definitely feel a person in this position should be compensated for their time. I sometimes spend many hours a week at the church.

    Reply
    • Nick

      So are you there to provide a service for the church or are you there to serve the lord? It sounds like you just want compensation for doing a job which would make you an employee not a member.
      This attitude of entitlement is sad.

      Reply
      • sha

        You HYPOCRITE! YOU WHITE WASHED TOMB! YOU SHINY COFFIN! Jim Crosby is worthy to be paid just like your SELF RIGHTEOUS self is paid.

    • sha

      Yes you DESERVE to be paid. Luke 10:7. You labor at the church and you deserve to be paid for it. That church is selfishly using you. That why Jesus Christ stated they concerned about their own bellies . Your pastor should be ashamed.

      Reply
  4. Nick

    I understand that a church has a “cost of running” like rent and utility bills. But I think that all the money donated should somehow be reinvested in the church and used to benefit ALL of the members like paying bills expanding the church funding missionaries etc.

    However – I’m AGAINST paying a pastor or deacon or any other members of the congregation for their services. If you want to be an “Employee” go get “Job” I feel like you must make extreme sacrifice when you take on these roles in the church and should never accept finical compensation to do the lords work. We actually have a pastor here in the town I live in that works where I work 40 hrs a week and then donates the rest of his time to his church preaching organizing cleaning mowing and much more. Again just my opinion but I also think when you tithe %15 of your income every week to a church you do this with faith and understanding that this is going to be used to keep your church growing. So If someone is spending that money on their house payment or car payment how does that benefit the church? “The Lord shall provide” doesn’t mean a $100,000 dollar house and $50,000 dollar car. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Jesus from a poor family and didn’t he wear plain linen and wasn’t he also a carpenter/builder? I’m just saying he didn’t have a church paying him a “Wage for his services” or a bunch of fancy clothes and shiny objects but yet he was still able to influence so many … Question – Do you consider testifying for the Lord “Labor” and feel that you should be paid for it? Wouldn’t “Doing Paperwork” “Organizing church meetings” “Preparing sermons” all be part of your sacrifice to the Lord? Just my thoughts – Looking forward to yours.

    Reply
    • Nick

      Oh Yeah I forgot to mention one Important thing …
      I’ve been a Rev. Since 2008

      Reply
      • sha

        you’ve been a religious VIPER since 2008 is more like it!

    • Wise

      What you said so true……I don’t mind paying for the church to help it grow

      Reply
    • Cathy

      I think tithes is a argument conversation. There are small churches that don’t get enough donation by members to pay the church light bill but the pastor still delivers the message. Then there are pastor’s like Joel Osteen who sell high dollar tickets to hear him speak the word and he lives in a mega million dollar home with all the trimmings of high dollar cars, boats, swimming pool , tennis court’s and has his own tv show. My personal opinion on this is some are in it to serve God and some are in it for the money. I go to a church and my pastor has a full time job away from church, visits the sick in the hospital, cancelled a service to go help all the tornado victims and donated the church garage sale items to them. If anyone thinks that the pastor who makes the most money delivers the best word Then the word your getting is from a business man not a pastor. A true pastor is not busy trying to get rich he’s too occupied with delivering the message and helping others.

      Reply
  5. B

    Everyone tithes or dedicates themselves in different ways – hopefully not the church, but to God. Taking monetary compensation for working for the greater good is what it needs to be, as long as you tithe ‘Yourself’ and not just your money. It takes a lot of work to run a church, let alone be a part of one. Most church’s today are just that- church. To receive the full experience takes media, lighting, sound, etc? No. People can have church in an ally or a small living room. But logically put – if more people come into Jesus’s loving arms from this ‘Full Experience’ as above and some church’s today… To finally receiving a walk with God- and accepting Christ as their savior- is it better than never getting the experience at all because of the regular reverends church’s? That’s a tough question- Have someone saved from fire or teach them that they have to stay in a box-

    Your Opinions?

    Reply
  6. Chris

    Freeing up a pastor to “do the work of the Lord” makes a lot of sense, I really cannot see how you can pastor a church effectively while serving two masters. Working a dayjob And pastor a church after hours? Kiss your marriage (not to mention your kids) goodbye.

    Reply
  7. Chris

    Something else I want to add; If we are the body, we cannot engage in “Auto-cannibalism” activities. Trying to bite each other with sarcasm and such to prove our points is not really helping anyone. Instead, let us love one another and put the manners and respect back in. Yes, I agree that there are MANY people in ministry today who were not called for it. And it is perfectly OK to state your God – founded opinion – in love – and walk away. Keep praying for the people who stay behind though. And yes, there are countless churches being run like businesses where staff pull hefty salaries – at the expense of the church members. The Bible teaches us not to partake in the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose it. But do it in love.

    Reply
    • Rich

      If a church is no longer having services but is renting out it’s building to another congregation,what is that church is suppose to do with the money that’s piling up in the account?

      Reply
      • Rich

        Can members have access to it,if in need? Or does it have to go to a trust fund,scholarship,or a charity? Who can help me out with this answer?

  8. Mileen Slaven

    If one’s church is struggling financially, who should come first on the “must pay” list: missionaries or Pastors?

    Reply
  9. Tom

    I have no problem for a pastor to get paid but to have a church pay for their salary and housing is a bit much. My employer gives me a pay check that’s it, they do pay for my house

    Reply
  10. N

    I am just a church member who loves the Lord and that everything that I do is for the Lord and that I don’t expect anything. My whole family loves to serve the Lord… no payment is required for our services. My husband, my son, and I work… five of us in the family love the Lord so much that’s why we take part in the church ministry, to reach out to those souls so they too might come to know Christ. My husband who is the chairman of the elders spend so much time in the planning and implementation of the church programs. He also makes himself available at all times in the music ministry, the sound system, and everything that has to do with presentation, meetings, and ministry programs abroad. My daughter who’s only 20 makes herself available in playing musical instruments for church worship. My son takes care of the junior worship. My youngest daughter and I make ourselves available in leading the worship. I also make myself available in the children’s ministry, DVBS, and children’s musical presentations. In all these things that we do, we don’t get paid. It’s out of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ that we do these. Not a single thing we lack… God has provided for us. He provided jobs for me, my husband, and my son…and He literally supplies all our needs. And with our jobs, we still give Him back that part of our earnings so that we can use it in the ministry and in our missions. Where God leads, He simply and faithfully supplies.

    Reply
  11. Tom

    I have no problem paying for a pastors salary but what does the bible say about paying for their mortgages? I, personally don’t believe its the churches job to pay for their salary and a mortgage, especially if a church is struggling financially.

    Reply
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