Rich Pastors: Ugly Church

One of the things that turns me off to church…that turns many of us off to church…is Pastors making HUGE, GINORMOUS coin on the backs of people who are told that they must give to support some orphaned kid in some faraway place.

Actually, Pastors getting rich off the ministry bugs the crap out of me. Seems like there should be in-house accountability for all ministry staff. And the leaders who keep the staff accountable ought to themselves be accountable to the congregation. There should be transparency in ALL things. If we have something to hide, it’s not Christ’s church we’re serving.

With that in mind, a friend ran across someone recently who said this: “No pastor has been able to answer this” (which I find stretches the limits of credulity). “If you stand up in front of your congregation and state that you were called by God to be a pastor, that this is your calling and you have known without a doubt, then why do you take money and get paid for your calling? If it is your calling and you stand in Christ, then why not trust that He will provide and not take money from your congregation?”
Sounds good. Spiritual, even. Just trust God. Heck, Paul was a tent-maker, wasn’t he?

Cool- let’s trace it out. Get all biblical and stuff.
In the Old Testament, God ordained that the Levite Priests would depend upon the offerings of the Jews in order to live. And didn’t work outside the Priesthood. So if the people didn’t give, the Priests didn’t eat.

In the New Testament, Paul said, “Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? IN THE SAME WAY, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel”- 1 Cor. 9:13-14.

Yet Paul was a tent-maker. So what gives? Paul refused to receive from certain people in certain areas because of benefactors and the compromise of the gospel. There were those who would give, then expect he’d not speak about their particular sins. Or would trumpet their awesomeness. But Paul made it clear to the same people that they were responsible to make sure their preachers could eat. Not get rich, but make a living.

In Philippians, Paul praised the church at Philippi for renewing their financial support so that he could eat. And he says, “If I go hungry, I can make it. If I have a lot, I’m OK as well. I’ve learned the secret of being content: I can do all things (go hungry or eat well) through Christ who gives me strength” – Phil. 4. But he doesn’t say, “No…I’m sending it back. I’ll just sit here under house arrest and starve.”

In 1 Timothy 5:17-18, it 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.’
Galatians 6:6 and 1 Cor. 9:11 say the same thing.

Even Jesus received offerings to support himself and his disciples. He had a treasurer (Judas, who loved to steal from the bag. Gotta watch them treasurers!). Luke 8: “He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women…and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.”
So the ministry, if you honestly love God and love the people to whom you are called to shepherd, takes 45-60 hours per week. A few weeks it’ll take far less. Some weeks a bit more. I used to keep a list of my hours and turn it in to our leadership. They didn’t ask for it, but I wanted to be accountable…esp. as I began serving at Layman. I averaged a bit over 50 hours per week each year. I’m probably slightly under that now. The point: “the worker is worthy of their hire.”

Great…but what do you do with the “accountable to no one (or a hand-selected group of ‘yes men’), making bank off the church” guy?
1 Timothy 3:3 says, “…an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach…not a lover of money.” So it can’t be about money. He can’t be some guy who builds mansions, owns planes and lies about where he got the $$. And refuses to disclose how much he makes. If so, don’t follow him. Even if he does preach well and seems really nice and authentic.
How much should he make?

What does someone in a similar field, at the same age and level of training and experience make? There’s a good starting point. Counselor? Principal? I don’t know. And I don’t know what they make. Just throwing it out there. In the end, I can post this because I’m not up for any salary reviews and everyone at Layman can know how much I make by asking. And when they finish laughing, we’ll all go have a brew of some sort… Because Layman folks are cool like that.

But please, if you’re at another church, don’t begrudge your Pastor- who is on-call 24/7- the ability to feed his family and pay his bills. Instead, encourage, pray for, support him. If you have questions about what he makes, ask him. He should be willing to answer.

And, for the love of God (literally), can we please stop supporting the Prosperity Teachers who make everything about money? And promise healing or great riches for your “seed of faith?”