Pastor Salary (Baptist Edition)

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by LongWar, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. LongWar

    LongWar Puritan Board Freshman

    I recognize this is an emotional topic for many, especially those who "make their living off the gospel" as many authors put it. I have been reading quite a bit in favor of bi-vocational ministry lately and wanted to ask why, in an over-saturated ministry environment we tolerate funding so many full-time pastors, let alone church staffs (who tend to be the spouses of "influencers". deacons, or other elders, from what I've seen). Most reformed Baptists advocate for having a plurality of elders, and while the number of churches in America is shrinking, just the SBC seminaries are churning out over a thousand graduates each year, not to mention many more from independent seminaries. Given the disproportionate amount of money that we as Americans keep in domestic ministry rather than missions (85%?), how can we justify this?

    To me, it seems that funding full-time ministry staffs is due to laziness, or the desire to avoid hurt feelings. Why don't we see more churches that have the elders on a preaching rotation and expect them to work a normal job like the rest of the congregation? Surely given the number of men who pastors have endorsed as qualified to attend and graduate seminary, we can spread the ministry load (not just preaching).

    Again, I recognize this is a golden (no pun intended) calf for many since our paychecks are how we provide for our families, but I cannot see how we as American Baptists will be able to one day stand before God and justify spending so much on ourselves. I don't see how hypothetical congregant could justify paying a tithe to the local church, knowing that only one of the six elders is doing 98% of the work. Why not spread the load and make ministry "service" rather than a "job"? I would bet we would also see far less pastoral burnout as well.
  2. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Why do you assume that America isn’t a mission field? And why do you assume that being a pastor isn’t a full time job worthy of full time pay?
  3. LongWar

    LongWar Puritan Board Freshman

    Can you point to anywhere in America where a church isn't within driving distance? The gospel has been preached here. Why are we spending so much to re-preach it when there are many parts of the world that haven't been reached?

    Regarding your second question, as a capitalist, I believe the market will determine the value of an individual's financial worth, so in that sense being a pastor is a job worthy of full-time pay. As someone who wants to be financially responsible with the church's tithes though, can you tell me why one paid pastor is of more value to the congregation than four unpaid splitting the work?

    ... I'm not trying to debate or attack. I would like to hear why some people, especially those in full-time, paid ministry positions feel that it is justifiable, given the plethora of qualified Christian men, let alone seminary graduates.
  4. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Well there’s a lot more to it than just preaching once a week. I preach three times a week, plus deal with counseling, visitation, overseeing operations of both the church and our 250 student Christian school. Could this be spilt up among several unpaid people? Probably, but it’s doubtful they would be able to provide cohesive leadership to such an organization.
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Where did you come up with that number? Although I have a pretty good guess where you pulled it from....
  6. LongWar

    LongWar Puritan Board Freshman

    Obviously a generalization. Not all Baptist churches have six elders.
  7. BLM

    BLM Puritan Board Freshman

    Can you share what you've been reading on bi-vocational ministry? I'm interested in learning more. I'm of the opinion an increasing number of men will need to serve in this capacity in the future, not so much by choice but by necessity.
  8. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I noticed much ambiguous language and an overall lack of citations for these so-called observations. Is your complaint contemporary baptist ecclesiology? What is your biblical support for unpaid(ish) staff doing the preaching?
  9. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Some observations brother:

    1. Acts makes it pretty clear that the elders are supposed to be devoted to the Word and sacraments. They had to give up waiting tables to devote themselves to the Word. For this reason I don't think teaching elders should have multiple jobs.
    2. The bible makes it clear that a pastor should make his living off the gospel. The pastor feeds us spiritually and in return we feed him physically.
    3. The church's only function isn't to preach the gospel then move on. We need the gospel every week, and we need to be fed consitantly every week.

    I know what you're trying to say, but I don't think there's an easy answer.
  10. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Sophomore

    Your signature says you are a Reformed Baptist.

    I am also a Reformed Baptist.

    Our Confession of Faith, the 26th Chapter, has the following to say on the topic:

    10.____ The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.

    This seems fairly contrary to the "bi-vocational Pastor as preference" idea.
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  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    We spend money to pay an honorable salary to full-time, well-trained pastors because we realize the ministry of the word is of great value. You wouldn't ordinarily want your surgeon to be one of a bunch of part-time, trained-at-home guys, would you? Of course not, because you value highly capable surgery. Well, highly-trained doctors of the soul are much more valuable.

    Now, the point about supporting missions is a good one. If the American church gave to the Lord's work at the levels it is capable of giving, and if men were willing to go, we could also supply most of the developing world with well-trained pastors. We absolutely should be doing this at the same time that we supply ourselves with pastors.

    But the idea that we would prefer to make do with less is a bad one for anybody.
  12. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    By "many authors", are you speaking of the Lord?

    "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:14)
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  13. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    "make their living off the gospel"

    I’ll pass on that tenor of that remark.

    “I have been reading quite a bit in favor of bi-vocational ministry lately and wanted to ask why, in an over-saturated ministry environment we tolerate funding so many full-time pastors...”

    Because what the Galatians need to hear isn’t what they need to hear in Corinth.

    “Given the disproportionate amount of money that we as Americans keep in domestic ministry rather than missions (85%?), how can we justify this?”

    Justify what? Please be specific.

    “Why don't we see more churches that have the elders on a preaching rotation and expect them to work a normal job like the rest of the congregation?”

    Rarely do Ruling Elders know their English Bibles let alone the confession they vow to uphold. I’m now settled three office. In the PCA I’ve heard modalistic prayers; a defining of justification as “a fancy word for a change of heart”; a denial that we can have infallible assurance of salvation; affirmation that covenant children join the church upon credible profession; an address to the lost that “Jesus died for you” - all of these by ordained ministers!

    Shall I provide a litany from the unschooled elders? It’ll make your blood boil.

    “I don't see how hypothetical congregant could justify paying a tithe to the local church, knowing that only one of the six elders is doing 98% of the work.”

    Five of the six don’t get paid and ministers should earn what the top professional in the parish earns, lest we undervalue the ministry of the Word. What, we keep them poor and God will keep them humble?
  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, you are.
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  15. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    My pastor preaches a morning and an evening sermon on the Lord's Day. He mentioned to me once, years ago, that it takes him 8 to 10 hours to prepare a sermon. I was quite shocked. I don't know what I thought, maybe just whip something up the night before. So I googled the question of how long an average, if there is such a thing, sermon should take to compose.

    Here is a thread I started on the question a couple of years ago. John MacArthur takes up to 32 hours. Other well known pastors vary, some more, some less. All but a couple take at least a day's work, if not more.

    Add to that my pastor is frequently ministering to individual members and families. If it ain't one thing, it's another. I've found, since I've been a deacon, that his plate, in terms of pastoral work, is quite full, in addition to his feeding the flock on the Lord's Day.

    The years in seminary, hours of study, and dollars to finance it, are another thing I might mention, although that goes back 20 years. Suffice to say he couldn't do the job he does for the congregation if it was an avocation rather than a vocation.
  16. StephenMartyr

    StephenMartyr Puritan Board Freshman

    For every believer? I know that's debatable.

    Isa 50:10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.

    Psalm 88 in particular

    I'm just saying though. Not trying to start another argument in here. The rest were indeed weird enough.
  17. StephenMartyr

    StephenMartyr Puritan Board Freshman

    As for this main discussion, I'm surprised no one has said anything about the possibility of pastors or elders working as well as preaching. Paul did.

    Co 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
    1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
    1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

    Act 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
    Act 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them.
    Act 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
    Act 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

    Act 20:33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
    Act 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
    Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

    I don't know...just a thought.
  18. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    The question is not about the lawfulness of ministers being bi-vocational. That is something I think all of us would say is at times necessary and lawful. What we're debating is the lawfulness/propriety of having fully supported vocational ministers, to which the OP expressed an objection.
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  19. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    My claim was that I’ve heard it denied that “we can have infallible assurance of salvation.”

    You responded with, “For every believer? I know that's debatable.”

    The prospect of infallible assurance is available to every believer. That’s plain Westminster standards. It’s available to all who “truly believe.”

    “yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.”

    I realize that’s debatable but what isn’t?
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Some thoughts:

    (1). First, the statistics:

    "Fewer than two-thirds (62.2 percent) of churches in the United States have a full-time pastor, according to the 2015 Faith Communities Today survey. That’s down from 71.4 percent in 2010.

    Median Sunday attendance dropped from 105 people to 80 during the same time, and the median annual budget fell from $150,000 to $125,000."

    See also: "Bivocational Ministtry is the new normal" the article reads.

    (2). Second, yes, the American church is very wealthy. Unfortunately, they use the funds for buildings and stages/audio equipment and programs and not pastors and missionaries.

    (3). Third, most US churches are shrinking or under 100 members. The large megachurches are rolling in money. But many small churches struggle.

    (4). Even if there is a plurality of elders, there is often only 1 man normally preaching each week. This man needs to be supported.

    (5). The stat is not really that 85% goes to domestic ministries instead of missions. The stat is more like 98%, and only 2 cents for every dollar goes to missions. "Of every dollar given to a Protestant church, the average amount that goes to overseas missions is two cents."

    Also, I've never really heard of churches giving their excess money to help other poor churches to pay their pastors. This should also be considered a worthy ministry. Even in association of churches, this seems rare among the baptists.

    (6). It seems to never fail, as soon as a church grows a little bit, they usually do not add missionaries to support, nor do they save the money, but, instead, begin a new expensive church expansion project.

    (7). I've heard of many churches paying for their musical band, or their "music minister" - this seems a waste. I suppose they think it all evens out since music draws a crowd sometimes and those added folks then give more money. But it seems odd to pay someone to "worship" - it seems a little mercenary. Many churches seem bloated with paid staff, sometimes up to 8-10 at bigger churches.

    (8). Many churches don't seem to save any money. They spend what they get.

    (9). Many churches will call a pastor and say things like "We can't pay you much..." and pay him very poorly for years. If a pastor were to ask for more, he'd be labeled as unspiritual, etc. There seems to be a culture of stinginess in some churches.
  21. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    Does my heart good, Ron! Does my heart good!

    Why? Because I am a clerical elitist? No. Because I do not think that a man should essay to be a preacher of the Word (a minister of Word and Sacrament) without the gifts and calling for such.

    I've known and worked with many fantastic ruling elders. They were fit to govern, engage in church administration, to discern theologically, to watch over the life and doctrine of the minister, to visit, counsel, pray with and for the flock, etc.

    But they were not gifted and called to be preachers. That is no mark against them, but that is an additional gifting and calling that teaching elders have that ruling elders do not. And thus it is not given to them week in and week out to enter the sacred desk and to proclaim without fear or favor, "Thus saith the Lord!"

    Truth be told, there are enough ministers who evidently shouldn't be there, who don't seem to be able to preach their way out of wet paper sack. We don't need more men entering into the sacred desk who have no business there. We need rather to be praying for God to gift and call men who really can preach the Word. We need to support these men in seminary as we examine them and discern such.

    And we need to pay them an honorable wage so that they can live reasonably among us and proclaim the glorious riches of Christ. Here is the fourth question asked of our congregations when ordaining and/or installing a man into ministerial office: "And do you promise to continue to him, while he is your pastor, that worldly maintenance which you have promised, and whatever else you may see needful for the honor of religion and his comfort among you?"

    Some might prefer that it work some other way. But we can't, by a mere exercise of our will, make all other church governors fit pulpiteers. Only the Lord can gift and call. We, in the seminary and the church, can only work to hone the gifts that He has given and to confirm that call.

    We can question how we do everything in our churches and wonder if x or y wouldn't be better. There's always a place for making sure that our practices are biblical. There's also a need not to dither but to get on with the work to which He has called the church (and our historic understanding of it): to gather and perfect the saints until the end of the world. If churches imagine that they can go about this task by having men neither gifted nor called to be ministers to perform the central task of preaching, they are sadly deceived.

    Let's get on with the work to which he has called us, whether in the office of minister, elder, deacon, or general office of believer. This is how the church, in dependence on Her Lord, goes forward.

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  22. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I’ll take it one step further, Brother. I’m persuaded that the reading of the Word is the ministry of the Word. So, I’d prefer that only ministers read the word in congregational worship (and preferably the minister who is going to expound the text). One clarification. I’m real fine with responsive reading, but I find that’s more akin to congregational worship given the full blown participation responsive reading contemplates.
  23. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    Certainly, the first part of WLC 156 teaches that public reading is restricted and the structure of the questions suggest the integral link between public reading and preaching of the Word. I also agree that is to be distinguished from responsive reading. In my view, this all needs to be recovered and our contemporary innovations haven't proven a blessing.

    Q. 156. Is the Word of God to be read by all?
    A. Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with their families: to which end, the holy Scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages.

    Q. 157. How is the Word of God to be read?
    A. The holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God, and that he only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence, and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer.

    Q. 158. By whom is the Word of God to be preached?
    A. The Word of God is to be preached only by such as are sufficiently gifted, and also duly approved and called to that office.
  24. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I'm surprised on this thread full of ministers that no one has mentioned the most relevant verse on this subject repeated throughout the Scriptures, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain."
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  25. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Have you known any REs who do have the desire and gift?

    If you had such, what would you do? Allow them to exhort from the pulpit or lead a sabbath school? Would you encourage them to go to seminary and your congregation to support the training?

    Just looking for insight.
  26. LongWar

    LongWar Puritan Board Freshman

    The book that I have found to be the most impactful and direct on the subject is BiVo by Hugh Halter.

    Thank you to those who replied thoughtfully instead of in anger. Jimmy, Steven and Pergamum, thanks for your posts, they were very informed and helpful... Everyone else, as I have seriously offended some over this, I'm going to leave it alone going forward. This might have been a wiser question to ask the seminary rather than the pastorate.
  27. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I'm not sure anyone was offended at you personally, but rather that you haven't really considered certain things or that you are putting pastors, in some sense, through a stereotype into a box.

    Further, you are here accusing elders of anger (sin) by implication. Are you sure this is a humble approach? Perhaps it is they gave you a straight forward answer, and you have not liked their answer and you take that as anger towards you. Isn't that a possibility?

    After all, Sean who is a reformed baptist pastor (which you call yourself a Reformed Baptist) gave you the Confessional answer that you ought to agree with. But have you interacted with him?
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  28. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Why would you say anyone was seriously offended? I haven't seen that in any of the posts in this thread. Some disagreed with you and argued their position. That isn't a reason for you to say they were offended. This is a board made up of confessionally Reformed members. That means virtually none would hold the view you espoused in your opening post. You may not have known that. But this discussion has made that clear. There is nothing wrong with you bringing up the question for discussion. But you should be prepared for people to disagree and push back on your arguments. It's not a bad thing. It's actually very beneficial for your growth and maturity.
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  29. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I'm surely not offended in any way. I try to exercise as much charity and grace as I can, brother. We all need it.
  30. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior


    Great questions. My answer to Q.s 1, 3, and 4 is "yes." Furthermore, I have done something along these lines with a variety of men who've manifested ministerial gifts. My answer to Q. 2 is "the sort of things that you suggest here and other things like it."

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