Sunday, April 30, 2006

should pastors get paid?

Lately, I've really benefited from the faith-based life-coaching ministry of Dan Miller. He's best known for his great book 48 Days To The Work You Love. I was looking at archived articles on his website yesterday and came across this challenging article called Servant or CEO. He's wrestling with the issue of whether or not local church pastors should rely on their parishioners for their livelihood. Here's a couple of excerpts:
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual earnings for “clergy” in 2005 were $41,976, putting them somewhere between carpet installers at $42,584 and sheet metal workers at $38,680. Is that an accurate reflection of their contribution to society – or should their income even be compared in that way?

In start-up churches it is not uncommon for the pastor to be a “tent maker.” The pastor may be a real estate agent, sell insurance, grow some crops or have a landscaping business to provide for his own financial needs. But the implicit goal is to quickly grow the church group’s resources until he can move into “full-time ministry” and thus be totally dependent on those to whom he ministers. Often this cripples that group’s ability to reach out to others with any financial provision. The small country church near our house, although having no facility debt, allocates 67% of their income to their pastor’s pay package, leaving little for any outreach needs.

This is challenging to common thinking for sure.

(By the way, since I'm out of the closet as a Bible translation nerd, Dan uses the Holman Christian Standard Bible. But it could be simply because his publisher is Broadman & Holman.)

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