Saturday, December 02, 2006

Clergy Salaries - Recent Research

Statistical Report and Summary of Salaries

At recent meetings of the young adult clergy of the Cal-Pac Conference there have been discussions about salaries for new clergy in that most young adult clergy are having financial concerns (if not difficulties) particularly with the prevalence of large debt from college and seminary. We are experiencing a very significant drop in the number of young clergy in this conference (15% in the early 80s to 4% 2006), and nationwide, and a feeling among the younger clergy that part of the decrease in young clergy has to do with how “unaffordable” it is to be in the clergy. With these concerns I was asked by the young adult clergy of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to explore salary schedules, related to several factors, including cost of living, other annual conferences, and educationally equivalent employment.

Some of the young clergy related comments made to them in derogatory tones that persons in their congregations thought that someone who went into the clergy “didn’t need the money.” Another related the comment from his congregation that someone went into the clergy “because the person was called, [not to make a living]” as a response to how difficult it was to make a living, pay the bills and concentrate on ministry with the current rates of pay.

Indeed, young clergy are entering the ranks of the ordained because they are called, but there are some significant concerns that we are turning away clergy before they ever enter the ordination process because individuals can see that there is no way to make a living in the clergy. There is evidence that persons who enter the clergy are leaving early because the bills are piling up faster than the income from the job, making it untenable to remain in the clergy, while many of those who remain in the clergy are hindered in their ministry because of financial stress

This anecdotal evidence is then followed up with data. If the church is serious about desiring young clergy and clergy who are earnest in following their call, some changes to salary schedules are going to have to be made. Additionally, there may be a need to better develop an understanding of the need and purpose of the professional clergy, and whether or not they need to be “full-time” in the local church.

Let me present, first, a study done by Duke University, to be followed by some facts and figures of earning power in the clergy, locally and nationwide, for those with similar educational backgrounds for your consideration. I hope to conclude this research with some possibilities for contemplation in the Spring.

Pulpit & Pew Report: Clergy Pay Causing Problems for Churches

Low and unequal wages paid to clergy threaten to turn their "calling" into a job -- and to turn away seminary students

By Blake Dickinson

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Competitive, free-market approaches to determining clergy compensation -- used to varying degrees in virtually all Protestant denominations -- are harming the church and distorting its mission, according to a study by Duke University researchers.

Such approaches leave clergy financially vulnerable, change ministry from a "calling" to a "career," encourage congregations to grow for purely economic reasons and make it more difficult for pastors to offer leadership that challenges and transforms congregations, concluded the study's authors. The study is part of the ongoing Pulpit & Pew research project on pastoral leadership based at Duke Divinity School.

"We're not saying that churches necessarily need to run out tomorrow and pay their clergy more, although that may be the case," said Becky McMillan, a labor economist, co-author of the study and associate director of Pulpit & Pew. "But it is time for them to step back and think purposefully about how they're paying their pastors and why."

Low clergy salaries make it difficult for pastors to be true to their calling, the study contends. And this lack of income is causing many talented seminary graduates to enter other professions or other forms of ministry.

The issue of clergy salaries is, at its core, as much about how congregations view their pastors as it is about money, McMillan said.

"The fact that we use the free market to determine how much to pay clergy suggests that we view them as paid employees who compete for the position, and not as people who are called and compelled by God to spread the gospel," she said. "Our study suggests that looking at clergy as paid employees is a problem."

The study, titled "How Much Should We Pay the Pastor?: A Fresh Look at Clergy Salaries in the 21st Century," recommends that Protestant churches reconsider how they set clergy pay. Rather than turning solely to the free market for guidance, they should instead narrow the salary gap between pastors at small and large churches and provide all pastors with sufficient compensation to enable them and their families to live a decent life -- in essence, providing them with a "living wage."

To do so, however, will require many churches to surrender some degree of autonomy in order to share resources and act collaboratively with other churches, particularly in providing benefits such as health coverage, retirement and educational debt repayment.

The study was conducted by McMillan and Matthew J. Price, former associate director of Pulpit & Pew and now director of analytical research at the Episcopal Church Pension Group in New York City. The complete report is available online at the Pulpit and Pew Web site.

Using salary figures compiled in a 2001 national clergy survey, McMillan and Price sought to examine how free market forces shape clergy compensation and how that, in turn, affects the church. They looked at clergy salaries by church "polity," or organizational structure, particularly regarding the amount of independence individual congregations have in setting salaries.

In all but the very largest Protestant churches, salaries for pastors in "connectional" polity churches (those subject to some degree of centralized authority such as Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others) are consistently higher than clergy salaries in "congregational" polity churches (those with local church autonomy, such as Baptists, Pentecostals, United Church of Christ and others), the report stated. That disparity occurred even when controlling for pastor education, experience and church members' income.

About 60 percent of Protestant pastors serve in small churches, with an average weekly attendance of 100 or less. It was in these churches where the impact of church polity -- and the free market -- was most apparent, according to McMillan and Price. The median salary, including housing, for pastors serving small churches was $36,000 in connectional churches and $22,300 in congregational churches.

In large churches (with 351 to 1,000 in attendance, comprising about 5 percent of all Protestant churches), median salaries were $66,003 for pastors in connectional churches and $59,315 for pastors in congregational churches.

The same disparities exist in regard to fringe benefits, the researchers found. Pastors in congregational churches are much less likely than their connectional counterparts to receive pension benefits and health care coverage. Only 30 percent of small congregational churches, for example, provided retirement benefits for their pastors, compared to 80 percent of small connectional churches.

McMillan and Price attributed the differences in compensation primarily to centralized decision-making in connectional churches, which promote minimum salary guidelines and requirements to pay pension and health care benefits.

Regardless of polity, however, only a small percentage of pastors earn what most Americans would consider a professional-level salary, the study found. The median salary, including housing, for all full-time pastors in the study was $40,000.

Catholic clergy salaries do not create the same tensions, the researchers reported.

With no spouse or children to support, Catholic priests are generally paid less than Protestant clergy, the survey stated. Those lower salaries are offset by the provision of other benefits, including health care, retirement and theological education.

The range of salaries is much narrower for Catholic clergy. The median salary paid to Catholic priests varied only slightly regardless of the parish size, the survey showed. Median salaries for priests ranged from $20,883 for those serving small parishes (with less than 100 people in weekly attendance) up to $26,633 for those serving the largest parishes (with over 1,000 in attendance).

Rather than being determined by market forces, Catholic clergy salaries are set by the diocesan bishop and are typically comparable across a diocese. As a result, parishes that might not otherwise be able to afford a priest are often aided financially.

Freed from financial constraints, priests can more easily move between smaller and larger parishes as needed, the researchers said. Under such a system, excellence in ministry is driven not by financial incentives, but by faithfulness to one's call.

For more information, contact: Bob Wells | (919) 660-3427 |

From the Duke study I draw several immediate conclusions. When pastors are concerned about how to stretch the dollar in the home the life care of the church begins to sink further and further into the background; and pastors in non-Catholic denominations are more likely to have to stretch the dollar. There is a significant disparity in salaries from large to small churches, which is induced by the structure of localized salaries, and shrinking congregations. While benefits are shown to be beneficial, pastors are still being paid below “consider[ed] professional-level salar[ies]”.

And now for some localized California-Pacific information for the discussion:

Reading through the various data, I know raw figures get rather tedious and we can draw our own inferences. For this reason I have set it apart, so that the reader may inform his or her own decision according to the data supports presented, and evidenced elsewhere in the webfiles provided.

Median Income for 4-Person Families (US Census Bureau)

United States (2005) $62,732

California (2005) $65,766

United States (1984) $26,274

California (1984) $27,763

US Census American Community Survey

2005 Median Household Income

The 2005 ACS includes only the household population. This universe includes both the civilian and military population in households and excludes the group quarters population. The group quarters population consists of the institutionalized (such as people in correctional institutions or nursing homes) and the noninstitutionalized (most of whom are in college dormitories).

National - $46,242

California - $53,629

2005 US Census data

Median Income of person with a Graduate Degree

Men - $71,918

Women - $47,319.

Earnings by Occupation and Education 1999

All Clergy - $28,721

Full-Time Clergy - $34,696 (73.4% College Graduates)

2005 Median Weekly Earnings – National (

Clergy - $785 ($40,820-annual)

California 2005 OES State Occupational Employment Statistics


Median Hourly $21.81

Median Annual $45,370

Mean Hourly $23.06

Mean Annual $47,970

Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers in the West (US Dept. of Labor)

Base Year 1982-1984 = 100%

1996 Half 1 = 156.6%

2006 Half 1 = 204.5%

Cost of Living Index 2005 (

Average for United States = 100%

Los Angeles = 153.1% (Housing-245.4%)

San Diego = 141% (Housing-212.4%)

Honolulu = 162.4% (Housing-243.8%)

2004-2005 Candler School of Theology
All Graduates (Percent with no debt)- 25.8%
All MDiv Graduates (Percent with no debt) - 23.6%
All MDiv Graduates (Percent with debt) - 76.4%; avg debt of those borrowing $34,834
UM MDiv Graduates (Percent with debt) - 78.3%; avg debt of those borrowing $29,908

1983 Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference Journal

CAC $17,979

Minimum Compensation $14,383

1984 Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference Journal

CAC $18,160

Minimum Compensation $14,528

Car Allowance Avg $2,282

Housing Allowance (30% of CAC) - $5,448

GCFA Figures for Cal-Pac Minimum Compensation 2006

PM,FLP $21,648

FC $23,372

Equitable Compensation (Cal-Pac Conference)

Denomination Average Compensation (DAC)

Conference Average Compensation (CAC)
















What I hope to offer now is some interpretation on my own behalf and for other young clergy (and clergy entering as a second career, as the statistics bear witness to them in some instances as well. We are trying to show that it is difficult to continue as a clergyperson in this conference at the current rates of pay).

First, let me impart some of the good news. As United Methodists we pay our clergy better than the national averages for clergy persons, especially once you include housing and medical benefits. (I calculate housing for clergy in California-Pacific at the rate of $1800 per month, which includes rent and utilities; medical benefits are calculated on the rate of nearly $4500 for a single clergyperson.) At this rate of pay, the lowest a full-time clergy person could earn would be around $46,000. This is greater than the 2005 figures for clergy pay on a national schedule.

Considering those figures it would seem that if one is a woman, one is likely to be paid according to the national median for persons with similar education. Our men, then, are receiving well below the median. This Conference also feels a great responsibility to maintain the equity of the sexes in pay and location for our appointments, and if we were to take the average of the median salaries for men and women with graduate degrees it would seem that we are still underpaying our clergy, who would be expecting to earn $60,000 as an individual.

California and Hawaii have much higher Cost of Living Indices than the remainder of the nation, with some regional cities in the same range (San Francisco CA, Washington DC, Boston MA, and New York NY), with ranges of 140-160% of the national average. Housing costs for many of our pastors, especially those with parsonages, have managed to avoid the major hike in housing costs, but there still remains some work to be done to equalize the housing allowances according to the areas we serve.

While we have kept pace with paying our pastors a housing allowance or providing a parsonage, that is in line with our conference housing standards, in most regions of the conference, the cash salary for the job has failed to keep pace. Using the figures from 1984 as a baseline (1984 = 100%) one would expect to see that the conference minimum (1984 = $14,528) and conference average salary (1984 = $18,160) would have made similar growth to the Consumer Price Index. The 2006 CPI is 204.5%. At this rate Conference Minimum (Cal-Pac 2006) should be $29,710. Compare that to the Conference Minimum for Elders (Cal-Pac 2006) at $23,372. If we had kept pace with increases in the cost of living the average salary (CAS) should be $37,137 (+ ~$25,000 housing + medical). Current CAC figures indicate it is much lower than that at $49,560 for the entire package. The adjusted figures are still lower than the 4-person median incomes for the state, and we hope that our clergy should be able to support a 4-person family on the salaries we provide.

At the very least one would hope that the California-Pacific Annual Conference would keep pace with the denominational pay raises. While the Cost of Living and the Consumer Price Index are both very high for the state of California versus the rest of the nation, the conference pays below the national average for minimum compensation and average compensation. Additionally, while earning power in California is higher than the national average, those who serve as clergy in the California-Pacific Annual Conference are underpaid compared to National Averages, including the Denominational Average Compensation schedule. In fact, the only Conference in the United States with a minimum compensation level lower than California-Pacific is the Yellowstone Conference. While young clergy in this conference have concern because our levels of compensation are not keeping pace with the cost of living within this annual conference or with increases in pay for persons with similar levels of education we are also anxious because most of us are carrying huge amounts of debt as we begin our pastoral careers.

The Median Income figures match regular cost of living increases for our region and help to frame the context outside of the educational cost that our pastors are incurring to be able to participate in the clergy at all. I know that I, David Camphouse, graduated with almost $100,000 in debt. If I exclude the car, and some of the luxuries I bought and put on my credit card, I still carried nearly $70,000 of debt into the ministry (which translates to almost $10,000/year in loan payments). This included some from undergraduate ($10,000), credit card ($5,000), student loans from Candler ($45,000) and a loan from the North Alabama Conference who had sponsored me coming through the initial stages of candidacy ($10,000). Other figures for young clergy are forthcoming, as they are currently being surveyed.

Currently, students at Candler School of Theology graduate with an average of $34,834 in loans to the school, which excludes any credit card debt they may have incurred paying for food and books while in seminary, transportation to and from internships/jobs and additional loans from local churches or Conferences or undergraduate degree programs. I have also requested this information from Fuller School of Theology and Claremont School of Theology. Claremont was unable to provide me with these figures, and I have not heard from Fuller as of this time.

I hope that this has helped to bring the problem into focus, and I look forward to helping devise a way to overcome and encourage the church into the new century, and equitable pay schedules.

By: Rev. David Camphouse, on behalf of California-Pacific Conference Young Adult Clergy

Contributors (The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the contributors, or the United Methodist Church): Rev. Molly Vetter, Rev. Catie Coots, Jan Hanson, John Camphouse, Cathy Wilson, Rev. George Crisp, Hans Smith, Kathy Smith, Shonda Jones and Rev. Erika Gara


At June 27, 2007, Blogger Roadtripray said...

This is a great post, and near and dear to my heart. I'm 37 years old, so I'm no longer considered "young adult." But as you mentioned second career clergy are facing similar issues. I'm going to officially declare my candidacy for ministry this year, although I've been taking steps towards it for awhile.

I never finished my baccalaureate degree, so I left a lucrative job so I could have a schedule that would allow me to go back to school. I still make twice the EC for LP in the SC Conference, but I took a paycut of over $30K per year. My family is very supportive of me, but we're not kidding ourselves -- we know it's going to be a difficult transition.

I have been told that there is a possibility I could get an appointment as a local pastor while attending seminary. The idea of receiving an appointment next moving day is exciting. I can't wait to be able to serve a congregation in that capacity.

However, it's not a foregone conclusion that we can financially afford to take an appointment that soon. My original plan was to work at my present job through the 4 years or so it would take me to go through seminary. Honestly I would much rather be able to go ahead and serve as a local pastor, and the experience I gain will be wonderful and will bless my ministries going forward.

To be fair, though, I'm not sure you can really expect to compare pastor's salaries to the average American with a graduate degree. I think if you looked at the "helping/teaching" professions as a fair comparison, you would probably see more equity. In fact, I bet if you compared pastor's salaries to those of counselors, mental health therapists, social workers, and educators with a graduate degree, you'd probably find pastors don't do so bad.

Comparing pastor's salaries to attorneys and bank VPs with MBAs is an impossible situation. Not that I think pastoral leaders are less valuable, but the upper tier of graduates are in professions where for the most part the money is THE motivating factor.

At June 27, 2007, Blogger David said...

Definitely a valuable insight about the "helping professions".
I will look at that more carefully as research continues.
May God bless you in your studies and in your possible and upcoming local church studies.

At September 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the studies done on clergy salaries did not appear to take into consideration the number of unemployed (a horrible term that it is for clergy)or unskilled low income jobs ministers have to do to live. I personally know of a number of ministers who have been homeless, slept in shelters, because ther professional resume didn't make it to the top of the pile of competeing evangelical ministry positions. I also know of ministers who worked in donut shops, wash dishes etc. just to survive. Add to this the 500 resumes sent in to one senior minister position. The whole radical independant congregational model of church government is totally at the mercy of and powerfully driven by the god of the free market. This whole system of doing church makes the minsiter (in the words of John Calvin) a servant UNDER the church not to the church. These Churches become independent business that are consumer/client driven. What a shame and disgrace to the congregational spirit that bore its bitter fruit 400 years after radical independant puritanism flourished in England. Freedom isn't always waht it makes it self out to be. Sometimes it is bondagen, oppression and idolatry in disguise!!!

At September 11, 2007, Blogger David said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your thoughtful insights.
I think you are correct about the failure to take into account "unemployed" clergy, but the figures I noted seemed to take those who were paid little, and had to take second jobs. The second job income did not seem to be indicated in the figures.

I appreciate the thoughts and I am struck by the post I read elsewhere (please forgive my vague memory) this week that talked about the "pastor taking the pay of the church, and the church alone" - not seeking side jobs and the like. I wonder how that writer would respond to Paul and his tent-making and pastoral duties.


At December 04, 2007, Blogger Sheila West said...

Thanks for this article. I a STILL trying to mine all the data in all the link you provided. This is great stuff.

At January 17, 2008, Anonymous Glenn said...

Have you ever investigated what the Bible really says about the Pastor role? I think that God intended the Pastor to be a volunteer, a tentmaker. Ther are many verses that support this conclusion. I've outlined them here:

Pls check this out.
May God Bless You

At January 17, 2008, Blogger David said...

I did check out your site, and I continue to find that the clergy are deserving of their pay, either by levitical rites or even by the rights of a worker in the field of the Lord. Some support from Scripture, Numbers 18:21ff, Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18, James 5:4, Acts 21:24, Romans 13:6ff, and Philippians 4:18. Included in these scripture texts are also those which lift Paul's words, words which depict the pastor as worthy of pay. Preaching, on the other hand may, in some instances be considered as a part of the whole, and not the whole itself.
I would also take your use of slave to task, as even the slave is worthy of the food and shelter of the master, as well as a safe and viable workspace. Service and servanthood come as a result of submission to authority, for the clergy this is the authority of God, for which we are then accountable, for ourselves and for the teaching we provide.
In this, I feel assured of the teaching I make in this post and response.

At January 17, 2008, Blogger David said...

I also want to add to the previous post about "Helping professions". I did the research and for those with comparable degree requirements the pay is severely deflated for clergy. Some "helping professions" do match well, for instance CNAs, home-health care (minimal licensing). The other factor I look at is the cost of the degree required. I do not expect to match figures with Lawyers and Doctors, but MBAs are comparable in the cost of the degree, as well as BSN with specialized certifications.

At January 19, 2008, Anonymous Glenn said...

Thanks for the quick response. A few years ago I would have totally agreed with you, but then I asked God what I should be working on. Part of the answer I got was exposing wrong teachings & doctrines that most hinder his flock. There’s more on that at this link, but now let's take a quick at your references.

‘Serving God; Finding Our Assignment’

Numbers 18;21 And, behold, I have given the Levites all the tithes in Israel for an inheritance in return for their service which they serve, the [menial] service of the Tent of Meeting.
- under the old covenant the Priests were supported by tithes, but that should not be extrapolated into the new covenant [certainly not for gentile followers of Christ].

Russel Kelly's great book is avaialble for free at ‘Should The Church Teach Tithing’
My far simpler effort‘Tithing God's Call Or Man's Substitute’

AMP Luke 10;7 And stay on in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.
- a traveling preacher accepts lodging & food, sustainment, not a salary.

KJV 1Tim 5;18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward.
- again I see sustainment, allowing the Ox to feed, not wages, not a salary. Both the Bible and the Didache support this idea.

Amp James 5: 4 [But] look! [Here are] the wages that you have withheld by fraud from the laborers who have reaped your fields, crying out [for vengeance]; and the cries of the harvesters have come to the ears of the Lord of hosts.
- Shepards do not 'reap your fields', they tend the sheep. I see this verse talking about robbing missionaries, not Pastor's.

AMP Acts 21:24 Take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses [for the temple offering], so that they may have their heads shaved. Thus everybody will know that there is no truth in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself walk in observance of the Law.
- this again is not an ongoing payment process [salary], but a one time event.

AMP Romans 13:6 For this same reason you pay taxes, for [the civil authorities] are official servants under God, devoting themselves to attending to this very service.
- this verse is not dealing with tithes or offerings, but tells us to pay our taxes.

AMP Philippians 4:14 But it was right and commendable and noble of you to contribute for my needs and to share my difficulties with me. ...
18 For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed One).
- I see a distinction between expecting a salary, and accepting a voluntary offering

Daves commented above: “Included in these scripture texts are also those which lift Paul's words, words which depict the pastor as worthy of pay.”
- I agree that Paul indicates pastors have a right to pay, but if they exercise that right, the Word robs them of all authority. Their efforts can no longer be considered a call of God, the work can no longer be his ministry, it is now just his job. Those called of God, are called to reject pay, to follow Paul’s tent maker model. Take a look.

AMP 1 Cor 9;17 For if I do this work of my own free will, then I have my pay (my reward); but if it is not of my own will, but is done reluctantly and under compulsion, I am [still] entrusted with a [sacred] trusteeship and commission.

Lets look a larger slice in the NIV:
NIV 1 Cor9;15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. 16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it. 19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
-restating this: God ask those given the gift and the call of teaching/preaching to ‘become slaves to everyone’ to win as many as possible to Christ. If a Pastor chooses to accept pay, he is not called to preach. He is saying the reason that I am preaching is simply because I want to Preach. I think People claiming to be in this category will have some trouble explaining this verse.

NIV 1 Cor 14;1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of Prophesy.
Doesn’t this verse call us all to seek the gift of Prophesy?

Webster ‘Slave’ definition;
1 : a person held in servitude as the chattel of another
2 : one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence

‘Chattel’ definition;
1 :an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (as buildings) connected with real property
2 : slave bondsman

My Theory of the overall Problem;
God knew Human nature. He knew that a paid Pastor position would not effectively develop the priesthood of believers. The paid priesthood would also waste [or at best poorly invest] most of God’s resources on buildings, salaries and unbiblical worship services, rather than on missions, the poor, the weak and the prisoner. God knew they would poorly equip the flock to seek his wisdom, to seek the Holy Spirit and to carry out our assignment of loving and serving others and being the salt and light of the earth.


Dave (et al),
I know my thoughts seem radical. They challenge most of what we grew up with. I don’t want or expect people to change their minds based on my writing and my reasoning. I only ask that you seek the Lords wisdom, seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, really dig thru God’s word and allow God to change the way you think.

May God Transform, Bless, and Reveal His Will for All Who Read These Words, In Jesus Name,

At January 19, 2008, Blogger David said...

Thank you for your continued thoughts. We can raise scripture against scripture all day long and both be affirmed in belief.
But I found the crux of your point and the point of agreement in your closing comment.
"God knew Human nature. He knew that a paid Pastor position would not effectively develop the priesthood of believers. The paid priesthood would also waste [or at best poorly invest] most of God’s resources on buildings, salaries and unbiblical worship services, rather than on missions, the poor, the weak and the prisoner. God knew they would poorly equip the flock to seek his wisdom, to seek the Holy Spirit and to carry out our assignment of loving and serving others and being the salt and light of the earth."
Once a congregation gets caught up in the structures of the church, physical as well as administrative, as well as finding the "paid pastor" they have begun to relinquish their call to ministry. This is is the failing you so aptly identify, and the ultimate place of striving for any pastor or clergyperson - to equip the laity for ministry, and encouraging them to get up and do in the name of the Lord. The excuse often becomes "We pay the pastor to do that", and our focus gets deterred by the buildings and the heirarchies rather than the ministry of the people for the larger community. In this way I think you are right, and the pay the pastor deserves comes as a result of the call to equip others and to be provided for in the equipping ministry.
The challenge then is how to change the system. You seem to have chosen to do so from outside.

At January 19, 2008, Anonymous glenn said...

At the risk of being a little redundant, I know my thoughts seem radical and challenge most of what we grew up with. I don’t want or expect people to change their minds based on my writing and my reasoning. I only ask that you seek the Lords wisdom, seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, really dig thru God’s word and allow God to change the way you think.

In that light I think a key to our disagreement is the interpretation of the 1 Cor 9;17 verse. I was hoping that you could share your interpretation of that verse.

You ask a great question, so what do we do. “How do we change the System”

I don't think the key is going to be formula or structure related. I think the key is just simple submission. I think that we will learn by doing. The flock will tune into God's still small voice through the simple sharing that is commanded in 1 Cor 14;26-. As more churches turn from talking head preaching to times of sharing, the Holy Spirit will regain the control of the gathering that was lost so many centuries ago.

Dave asked[You seem to have chosen to do so from outside.]
-True, I could no longer support the church as it is. My leaders were not interested in discussions either. These words encapsulate my thoughts on this.

This is not a new problem. Take a look at this excerpt from a 1920 pamphlet by Frank B Holes titled “Assembly Principles” updated by Roger P Daniel in 1977

“When we see the truth of the Church as presented in Scripture and we think about putting it into practice, we become aware that the present general condition of Christendom (professing-christianity) is a total denial of these church truths.”

…Can the truth of the Church be practiced under present conditions? How is it possible today?
It would be impossible to walk into any building where religious services were being performed according to a liturgy (a formal order of service) or by an ordained minister and try to gather according to the principles laid down by the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 12 and 14. Any who attempted it would be considered disorderly. The only way to practice the truth as to the Church is by ceasing to practice what is not the truth. This can only be done by withdrawing from all that has no approval from Scripture. Being free from disobedience, we then can be obedient. Thus, we must first cease to do evil and then learn to do good. Any attempt to go on with both would be a great disservice to the cause of truth. It would say, in effect, that there is no basic, real difference between what is purely human and what is divine and, consequently, we can go on with either or both.”

… “First of all, the intrusion of any human system or organization into the divine order, to where the divine order is eventually obliterated, is a very grievous sin! It is not a sin to be attached to any one individual since it has crept in slowly: still it is a serious evil. It is a striking fact that at the close of a long passage on the divine order for the actual assembling of the church in 1 Cor. 14, Paul warns, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (14: 37). In this way, the Holy Spirit anticipated the careless tendencies that invariably come out whenever carnality (natural human, worldly ways) prevails, which tendencies are prominent today.

When spiritual power is low and worldly principles come into the Church, the tendency is to find divine order irksome because it makes certain demands on a good spiritual condition ― a condition not present. It also exposes the worldly-weakness which is present. So, the strong temptation is to be careless as to the instructions of Scripture: useful on many occasions, interesting, instructive but optional ― something that may be obeyed, not something that must be obeyed. All this, however, is entirely swept away by the fact that these instructions are "the commandments of the Lord." We thus are not at liberty to alter them according to our tastes and feelings:”

I agree with Frank Holes analysis and his recommendations, but perhaps there is hope that some churches may be able turn from the deception & stay together. One church in Hawaii, Hope Chapel Manoa, has already stopped their weekly meetings and replaced them with numerous House Churches.
Here’s their web page. They do still meet quarterly.

May God Continue to Guide Us

At January 20, 2008, Blogger David said...

I encourage you to read the preceeding to 1 Corinthians 9:17 and all of 2 Corinthians. Paul repeatedly shares the truth that pastors and leaders of all stripes are worthy of pay.
Paul has chosen not to be paid, in an effort to provide himself for ministry in a different way, but he repeatedly talks about being deserving of his food and shelter, but not to be paid for his preaching.
I say this. Preaching is not a show or entertainment to be paid for. Paul understands this and is encouraging of the funds raised for fellow brothers and sisters in ministry throughout Europe and Asia.
What you are exposing are half-truths and lies. But I urge you to consider the whole tenor of scripture, which repeatedly ensures the health and welfare of those who are entrusted with the Gospel Message, including the prophets within the community and those beyond-always worthy of their travel, meals and shelter.
I hear that you disagree with how some churches have chosen to show that support, and I admit a bias against such things as well as they become overly sacred cows.
I have prayed and considered the worth of my time and energies, and the will of God. I encourage you to live out your call as you see fit, for that matter - be convinced.
The priests, deacons and bishops of the church are worthy of their hire, and deserve to be paid, and paid well - not exorbitantly. The challenge lies in the current education various denominations expect of their clergy before taking the work they have been called to serve, because there is a fullness of life that cannot be when one is in bondage to money. This much I hear you saying repeatedly, and in this respect you are absolutely correct. Being beholden to money is dangerous and can lead to eternal pain. Salvation does not come in dollars but in Jesus Christ, and this must be the message we preach. Preaching life comes from the life in the Spirit, and when the worries of this life pull us down we cannot focus on Christ. Paul's continual admonition is for the community to support the needs of the clergy so that they can freely preach the Gospel of a risen Christ.

At November 12, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At December 09, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I am coming in on this conversation very late. I lean toward Glenn's understanding but not completely. I am UM clergy. My problem with clergy salaries is the comparisons to the communities in which they serve. For example; the average US household income in 2009 was 48,000 while the average income of a fulltime UM clergy person in the US during 2009 was 56,000.
Now we must compare apples to apples. When you add in the pension and medical benefits you will find that the INDIVIDUAL UM clergy is making 20+% more than the average US HOUSEHOLD. Then you figure in that 95% of UM clergy are married and 80% of the married clergy have spouses that work. Even if you give the spouses a minimum wage it brings the average UM clergy HOUSEHOLD income up to well over 75,000. So the average UM clergy family makes 56% more the average american family.
I have a real problem with this disparity. Should we not be servants and examples?
I was called to proclaim God's love and grace offered by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit not live an upper middle class american lifestyle.
Clergy in general need to come to terms with the value and meaning of the american consumer culture in regards to their relationship with God! We need to live much more modestly. I am not talking about living like hermits, but I do believe that we need to get control over our materialism.
I believe that clergy should be compensated by the communities of faiths they serve, but that compensation should be for the basic necessities and not from MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE.

At December 10, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very liked this Blog!

At December 29, 2010, Blogger David said...

Anonymous shared the question about comparing Apples to Apples. I agree that if you look at US household income on the average, versus UM Clergy you will find a disparity. There are indeed issues that surround inequality of pay, and what makes a living wage. I would argue however, that comparing Apples to Apples means that you must recognize that UM clergy cannot be "average Americans". We only ordain and establish for ministry those who have substantial training, and quite often inordinate debt load compared with the the income generated post graduation. This is particularly hard to square with the assertion from
that the average American has only 12 years of schooling, which doesn't even cover a HS education. Should we strip ordination of the schooling requirements, I would be more open to an "average income" for clergy.

For instance Wikipedia, under "Education in the United States" offers this:

"The mean annual Total Cost (including all costs associated with a full-time post-secondary schooling, such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board), as reported by the Census Bureau for the school year 2001/2, according to the various college years was as follows[citation needed]:
College years 1 to 2: $9489 (per year)
College years 3 to 4: $11901 (per year)
Total, four year schooling: $42780
College years 5 or plus: $13669 (per year)
Vocational, technical, business or other: $7401 (per year)
College costs are rising at the same time that state appropriations for aid are shrinking. This has led to debate over funding at both the state and local levels. From 2002 to 2004 alone, tuition rates at public schools increased by just over 14 percent, largely due to dwindling state funding. A more moderate increase of 6 percent occurred over the same period for private schools.[48] Between 1982 and 2007, college tuition and fees rose three times as fast as median family income, in constant dollars.[49]
The debt of the average college graduate for student loans in 2010 was $23,200.[50]"

At the end of the day, I realize that for most who post on this particular topic, I am barking into the wind, and I am instead posting for those who are not posting. I invite conversation, and try to challenge myself with each thought that is brought before me here. I thank you for brining thoughts and challenges to bear, for they only make me stronger, in my research, in my understanding, and in my own struggles with a jaded and broken system.

At January 20, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David what do you mean by not being average americans - because we have a graduate degree? I paid for my own college and seminary. I went to seminary on a student pastorate salary of $12500 in 1995-1999. I had to take a loan out for my final year. I then paid off that loan within two years of graduation. The secret is to keeping yourself out of debt before seminary and living within your means.
I believe the issue is that we (UM clergy) do want and expect to be like the average american - drowning in debt.
The education required for ordination in the UM church is possible without massive debt - but it takes some work and self discipline - not living like the 'Jones!'

At January 20, 2011, Blogger David said...

Dear Anonymous,
I do appreciate your comments, but it would be much easier to have a conversation with a person who can be identified. Could you please add your name to your posts since it is not automatically added?
David Camphouse

At January 21, 2011, Anonymous Sarah said...

I am currently in seminary to become a UM pastor. Although I am still relatively young (28), the ministry is still a "second career" for me. I earned my BA at 22 and my MSW at 24. I started working for Children's Services at age 19 and thus have nearly ten years under my belt as an "underpaid, underappreciated helping professional" in the state of Ohio.

I am paying for seminary using a mixture of scholarships and student loans. By the time I graduate, I will have at least $85,000 in educational debt aggregated from undergraduate school and two graduate degrees.

It may surprise you to find that I will most likely live more comfortably as a pastor than I am as a social worker. Social workers do not get housing allowances nor use of a parsonage. My salary as a social worker after 9 1/2 years for the state of Ohio? $35,000. I anticipate a similar pay rate as a pastor, but with a housing allowance.

At the same time, there are days when I wish I had been motivated toward a more lucrative profession. I have friends who are teaching in rural public schools without graduate degrees that make more money than I do (with summers off to boot!). Nevermind those who pursued law or business or medicine.

As for me, it's not so bad. I'm not married yet and do not have children and am not an overly materialistic sort. However, if I were a man and trying to stretch this income to support a wife and a couple of kids, I can't imagine how I could make it work.


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