How much should the pastor receive in salary and benefits? When starting a church, the pastor’s salary is determined by the amount of missionary support he receives and the amount of income the new church receives. If there is no support from sister churches and the church offerings are insufficient for the pastor to receive a salary he will be dependent upon his savings or income from a secular job to provide his living expenses. Although the church may be unable to provide a salary in its early stages it should ultimately support the pastor as soon as it is capable.
But, how do you set a salary when the church cannot fully support the pastor? The long term solution is to reach the lost and teach them their responsibility to care for their leader. It is the responsibility of the pastor to teach his people the importance of properly supporting their pastor. The Scripture states,” Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. –
1 Timothy 5:17-18. The responsibility of the church is to care for their pastor so that he can concentrate on the ministry. The responsibility of the pastor is to labor, if necessary, without concern for his salary. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”— 1 Peter 5:2. The primary concern for the pastor should be ministry not money. But, teaching people their responsibility is an important aspect of the ministry. If the church is able to support the pastor full time they should be taught to do so. If the church is able to support the pastor well they should do so. If there are not enough funds to support the preacher he should work willingly and trust God to provide for his needs. Paul taught the people this lesson and challenged them to support their pastor while he labored willingly without support.
It is difficult for most preachers to talk about money but if you don’t do it who will? Many times in a new church believers must grow in Christ before they begin to realize their responsibility in this matter. Visiting evangelists or special speakers can often say more about this when they preach in your pulpit. However it is you, the pastor, that has the responsibility to teach your congregation this important truth. You must recognize that this is a long process and will not happen overnight. However if you fail to teach your people they can become comfortable will status quo and never accept their responsibility.
If the church is too young to have deacons it is wise to meet periodically with key men in the church and review the finances and needs of the church. The pastor’s salary should be the last thing to cut from the budget. If the pastor doesn’t get paid the church will falter. If you delay receiving your salary in difficult times hoping that one day the church will make it up, it leaves the door open for future misunderstanding and confusion. The pastor’s salary should either be modified or eliminated but not treated as an IOU. When members learn to accept their monetary responsibility the church is blessed for it. Most pastors I know are underpaid and overworked. But I would rather fit into that category than to abuse the position of being a pastor for personal gain. Teaching your leaders and being a good example goes a long way to train your people to be generous. Remember that God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7. Even Paul recognized his mistake of not expecting the Corinthians to learn proper stewardship. “. . .I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.” 2 Corinthians 12:13. Let’s not make the same mistake.