There is no other issue in today’s church that causes me more personal disdain than the issue of remuneration of our pastors, priests, bishops, and other paid church staff. In the secular world we think it is a wonderful thing if a person has a well paying job. We think even better of them and/or the situation if they receive a raise in wages.
This is viewed by society as a positive experience and one that every working person should strive for. However, in the “world of church”, the opposite mentally seems to prevail. We think highly of someone who has “received the call” to “go into full time ministry.” That statement is wrong to begin with. All Christians have “the call”, and all Christians are in “full time ministry!” Therefore that statement is misleading, confusing, and tends to make a tier structure out of church members. It puts pastors on pedestals and makes for a “serf culture.” Then, when this person “with the call” becomes a pastor, we then ask him, “how little can you live on?” We financially compensate our pastors and other church staff as little as we can get away with, and justify if by saying that the staff should be grateful as they are “serving the Lord.” Are not all Christians “serving the Lord?” Actually, we are not supposed to be “serving” Him. He didn’t create us to be His servants. We are his children; not servants. Additionally some denominations intentionally want to keep the pastor “poor and humble.”
All of these ideas are not only completely false and wrong, but demonic! Poverty and humility are not even closely related to each other. Poverty is a curse as listed in the Book of Deuteronomy, and humility is a high praise and desired attribute of the Kingdom of God. However, for some very strange reason the modern church seems to be offended if a pastor or other church worker has some personal wealth. (who would they rather see have the wealth; the heathens?)
The bible says that the worker deserves his wages. (1 Tim. 5:18) What wages does he deserve? Ideally, every ministry should be paying at least “the going rate” for staff as compared to the same type of secular position. Secondly, I Timothy 5:17 says that the elders (ie staff) of the church should be paid double the honour or wages if they labour in the Word. So, instead of seeing how little we can pay the pastor, we should be seeing how much more we can pay him! Our pastor should be the most well paid, driving the best car and living in the best house! Why not? I cannot think of a worse job in the world that of a church pastor. Yet we over work and under pay these people then wonder why we don’t have enough pastors and/or why they get burned out. Few things in life can cause more of a drain on a person than debt and poverty. As if the pastor does not have enough to contend with in his occupation, we then thrust poverty on him as well. It makes no sense and is completely unbiblical.
Some denominations place their clergy in a rectory or manse, and then think they are being generous by paying his bills. The fallacy to that is that the pastor is unable to build equity in his own home. The church simply does not look after its own people. A friend of mine was forced to resign from the Anglican Church when the Bishop closed his church. It was a political issue and had no bearing on the church’s “performance” or the priests. My friend at age 65, is now working a menial retail job and will have to continue until age 80, to retire his mortgage.
It seems to me that in Canada we view profit as something to be feared, taxed, and/or something to be taken from others. Our socialist NDP thinking has lead us to these delusions. Indeed, a recent poll stated that if Canadians could vote in U.S. federal elections, three in four would vote Democrat. (ie. socialist) In the U.S., profit is envied, respected and desired. It is interesting to note that American pastors are as a rule paid better and thought of more highly than are Canadian pastors. Creflo Dollar and his wife drive Bentleys and Fred Price drives a Rolls Royce. These cars were given as gifts to them by their parishioners. If a pastor was seen even riding in a car like that in Canada, people would criticize and leave the church! I don’t understand that. Who would they rather like to have the cars and wealth? The heathens??!! We don’t seem to have a problem with Donald Trump having money, but Christians, especially pastors are not allowed to??!! We are the chosen people of God; we should be living and be blest beyond our imaginations, not squandering in poverty and underpaying our staff.
Does it bother you that a pastor is poor? Does it bother you if he is wealthy?