This will be the last post of our “What is a Pastor” Blog Series and let me begin by saying this isn’t me pushing for a raise or anything. This is a issue that some people do have questions about. It is also an issue that is hard for most pastors to address because it looks like they are pushing for a raise. So let’s look at scripture.
Galatians 6:6 says: One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14: 13 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?14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
It is fairly clear here that the church as a responsibility to care for those that minister in and through them. The church already has a responsibility to care for the needs of those among them but these verses raise the bar when it comes to leaders in the church. However, there are two abuses to this situation that are prevalent in the modern church. On one side the church often approaches compensation with the business mentality of “what is the least we can get away with paying them”. This doesn’t bless those that are ministering to you, that isn’t double honor. An extension of this is the idea that, many churches once held (though it seems less common now), the preacher should be kept poor and humble. Once, again this is dishonoring to a person that is sacrificing their life for God and others.
The other abuse I see is church leaders that take the pay and really haven’t earned it or expect the church to sacrifice to pay them but they don’t sacrifice for the church financially.
This is in direct contradiction to Paul’s example as he worked a secular job so as to not burden the ministry. 1 Thess, 2:9.
So in short, yes, a pastor should be provided for. However, it is important to note that that isn’t always in the form of a check. In modern day just giving the pastor a salary is probably the easiest way to provide for the pastor. However, there have been many times in history and in many situations where it would be easier to give the pastor produce, a house, a car, do his laundry, etc. instead of paying him money. Furthermore, some pastors may be bi-vocational or have a lucrative career and thus don’t need the money but the bible doesn’t say that you have to pay them but rather that you take care of them. So even though the pastor or church leader doesn’t have need of a salary they probably still could use other things. They could use help around the house, a baby sitter so he and his wife could have a date night, encouragement, a vacation, etc. Leading a church and pastoring people takes a lot of time and that is something that doesn’t change regardless of how much money they make or where it comes from. In short take care of your pastors and church leaders. So that they can help take care of you.