The Gospel Coalition

The Story: A new study released by the Leadership Network examines the salaries of 209 of the very largest churches in North America, all with weekend worship attendance of at least 2,000.

The Background: According to the report, the study represents the "largest-scale window that anyone has compiled to date on the continent's largest churches in terms of their financial dynamics." The report includes survey results of 164 churches with attendance between 2,000-4,999 and 44 churches with weekend worship attendances of 5,000 and higher. (Among North America's 325,000 Protestant churches, only 1,600 (0.5%) have attendances of 2,000 or higher.)

The churches included in the report are from 34 states and 3 Canadian provinces. The oldest were founded in the early 1800s, and the youngest ones in 2005. In terms of ethnicity, 83% described themselves as predominantly Anglo/white. The other 17% said they are predominantly African American/black, Hispanic/ Latino, Asian, or "no majority group." Selected churches also span a wide variety of traditions, both non-denominational and denominational.

The senior pastors of these churches ranged in age from the low 30s to the low 70s. The median age was 51. The median tenure of the senior pastor is 13 years at their current church. Each congregation's annual giving ranged from almost $2 million to over $30 million.

The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the study include:

• Total cash compensation (including allowances for housing) for senior pastors ranged from $85,000 to more than $265,000, though the majority of the salaries cluster around the $100,000 to $140,000 range.

• The most influential factor in setting staff salaries is a church's size, measured by its budget and worship attendance.

• Senior pastor salaries in very large churches tend to rise with increased size of attendance.

• The highest paid geographic region was the South, followed by West, and Northeast. The lowest was Midwest.

• The highest salaries were for churches located in an older residential area in the city, followed closely by those in an older suburb around the city, followed by those in a downtown or central area of the city. The lowest were those churches located in a newer suburb around the city.

• For each additional 1,000 people in attendance, annual salary increases by roughly $8,000 on average for large church senior pastors.

• Founding pastors are paid $515 more per year than successor pastors, excluding outliers and controlling for church size and length of tenure.

• The second-highest-paid person in churches is most often generically described as the executive pastor. This #2 person typically receives 66% of the salary amount received by the senior pastor.

• Being a multisite church does not favorably increase salaries for the senior pastor.


Comments:

John Carpenter

September 9, 2012 at 03:48 PM

Hi Arthur,

1. In 1 Corinthians 9:14 he says exactly of whom he is speaking: "those who proclaim the gospel". He doesn't say "to the lost." Instead, it is a generic command to financially support all who "proclaim the gospel." There is no basis from that chapter to narrow the referent to only the itinerant or the evangelist.

2. The basis for whether 1 Tim. 5:17f refers to financial support is not the debatable idea that "honor" means honorarium but the clear statement in 5:18 that "the laborer deserves his wages." So, in this context, Paul is speaking to the "elders who rule well, especially in preaching and teaching." These are local church teaching elders. They deserve their wages.

3. Your statement "When Paul wrote those words there was no professional clerical class in the church" assumes the answer before you've even opened the Bible. Unfortunately for that statement, your statement is obviously not true. There is the command in 1 Corinthians 9 to support those who proclaim the gospel and that financial support of the preacher of the gospel is a "right"; 1 Tim. 5:17f applies it specifically to the local church teaching elder; Galatians 6:6 says the same; in Philippians 4:15 we see that Paul took financial support from the Philippian church, before taking it from the Macedonians, and in 2 Corinthians he rebuked the Corinthians for having to ask the Macedonians to support him while he lived in Corinth. Your statement that Paul usually worked rather than take financial support is simply false.

No where does he teach that elders and those who proclaim the gospel should work for a living. His teaching is clear that those who proclaim the gospel should get paid; the laborer deserves his wages. By his example, he expected churches to support him.

John Carpenter

Neil

September 8, 2012 at 12:47 PM

The truth is your "job" is according to traditions of men. When you or anyone else uses scripture, you must account for the whole council of God’s word. The vocation of the Senior Pastor is a man-contrived position. You have taken 1 Cor 9:14 out of context because you believe these one or two passages (1 Cor 9:14; 1 Timothy 5:17) of scripture validates your position (Senior Pastor).
The command of the Lord comes from Matthew 10 where He sends out the disciples to the lost sheep of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-15) Verse 8 through 10 in particular refer to these passages. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
Paul’s “right” was to preach the Gospel without compensation. Paul makes this point by comparison to these two scriptures. (1 Cor 9:13-14) Verse 13 refers to compensation of the Levitical priests who received their compensation by their position in the temple, but verse 14 pertains to those who preach the Gospel and do not receive anything because the Gospel was given to them for free.(Matthew 10:8)
1 Cor 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.(KJV) (What is also important to consider is the many Bible translations in the last century were written to enhance and protect the royal “priesthood” of pastors)

Scripture tells us that everyone who comes to salivation in Christ has entered this holy priesthood. That makes ALL of us priests, not just a select few who are able to pay tuition and obtain a title from seminary because they felt a “calling” to be a pastor. The Holy Spirit gifts everyone according to the need of the body. Therefore, seminaries and bible colleges are not necessary. In fact, seminaries and bible colleges are the problem because they promote the one-pastor position.

The clear separation of clergy and laity perverts the intended body of Christ. Combine this with many problems of this one pastor system (I would happy to give you an extensive list) and you suddenly have a position ordained by man and sustain by man, and anyone who opposes those who idolize this unbiblical position is divisive or they appear to be bitter towards this ministry.

The apostles placed elderly men as “elders” to guard against groups such as the Nicolaitans and the Balaamites. These older men (not women) fit the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and they were to receive double honor (double respect, not monetary compensation). What you and many like have done is placed yourself in these positions of elder and then given yourselves titles to show others that you are elevated above the rest of the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ had a lot to say to those who made titles for themselves and placed themselves above the common believer. (Matthew 23)

The scenario of a typical "pastor" goes like this: A young man “feels” called to be a pastor (not an elder, a professional pastor) He enters seminary, receives his training on Hebrew, Greek, preaching a sermon, teaching and reading the bible (this depends on the translation of the bible), all this according to the seminaries teachings. If the seminary were heretical, this would cause any congregation who hires this pastor to become heretical overnight. Once they become “ordained” (ordination is a pagan practice), they enter the world as a full-blown professional pastor.

You also have failed to respond to the fact that every elder should pull a salary because they teach and preach the Gospel. This is what your interpretation states. This is not happening because the “Senior Pastor” wears the many hats of ministry and therefore dictates what he deserves to be paid. Elders receive little compensation unless they are part of a Major Corporation Church (Mega-church). You speak as if the Senior Pastor position as if it is that of the 1st century elder. How can a single 24-year-old man come out of seminary and be an elder? It goes against scripture. God’s word is clear that the “pastor” position of today is NOT in a valid position. There is ONE Senior Pastor, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ!

Top 10 edition 2 | The Everlasting Fallout

September 8, 2012 at 10:43 AM

[...] Something you’ve always wondered in the back of your mind but didn’t want to ask – How much money do mega-church pastors make? [...]

John Carpenter

September 7, 2012 at 09:30 AM

Hi Michael,

My comments weren't "hurtful." Grow up. I made some general comments about a lot of small churches in rural/small town areas. I didn't say it applied to you as I didn't know. If they don't apply to you then I assumed you had the maturity to know that and so not be hurt by it. I'm sorry if I assumed incorrectly.

If you want to learn about expository preaching, I'd suggest the guidance of 9Marks (Mark Dever, et al). It's good that you are "gospel centered" and I'd encourage you in that.

John Carpenter

September 7, 2012 at 09:23 AM

Hi Neil,

I'd ask you go back and re-read (or read for the first time) my previous comments.

Yes, God calls men. And then once He has, they should get prepared. I don't understand your false dichotomy between the call of God and theological training. If a man is truly called, then he will want to invest the years to be able to fulfill His call. Normally, that will require some learning of the original languages of the Bible. If one is going to preach the Bible, it's helpful to be able to read it.

You wrote: "You also are saying that the Holy Spirit is not sufficient for revealing the truth a God‘s word to someone but a seminary is." Where did I say any such thing? Again, you have a false dichotomy between learning and the Holy Spirit. You are quite wrong and you've leveled a false accusation against me for which you should repent.

Again, reread my earlier comments. I cited several scriptures, most notably two: 1 Corinthians 9:14, 1 Timothy 5:17f. The first speaks of there being a "command" by the Lord that the preacher of the gospel be paid; later in that chapter, it calls being paid a "right." 1 Tim. 5:17f is specifically addressed to the teaching elders of a local church. I'm aware that some believe it is speaking of a "double honorarium" and that proves my point: an honorarium is pay! It says directly that the teaching elders "deserve" their wages. Scripture is clear. Either accept it or admit that you don't believe the Bible. You then cite several scriptures irrelevant to this discussion, out of context, to confuse the matter. This is exactly the procedure others use on other issues they want to obfuscate: like the sinfulness of homosexual practices, etc.

I'm grieved at your mishandling of the Word of God and an apparent bitterness toward the ministry. I believe there is a serious spiritual issue at the root of this.

Bob

September 7, 2012 at 08:36 AM

Neil,
I do not know of any Pastor's in 12 million dollar homes. I have many mega church Pastor's as friend, we all live in "normal" homes. I many cases they are getting salary's appropriate for there location and neighborhoods. It is all relative. I would reject my salary,as too high, if I was a Pastor in rural Wis, North Dakata or Wyoming. But living in Metropolitian areas have cost of living issues, taxes and expectations not relevant to many other Pastor situations. I get pressure to golf in a ton of great christian outings at 125.00-300.00 per person. I do a lot to support the cause and enjoy golf. my buddies in rural America tell me yhey have 1 or 2 a year. That say nothing about fundraising banquet etc. I just ask for grace and a bit broader understanding.
bob

Phil

September 7, 2012 at 08:07 AM

John,

You may not want me to do your taxes. For 2010 and 2011, i forgot that the self employment tax (FICA) applies to the housing allowance as well. Uh oh. :)

JohnM

September 7, 2012 at 07:22 AM

I'm late to this party, but I'll say it doesn't strike me that most pastors draw a salary that puts them in the class of extremely wealthy. It certainly does put them above average in many cases, and I don't mind them having an income above average -except sometimes when they give life advice that is impractical for those who don't make so much - or except when they constantly badger their audience for more.

Phil

September 7, 2012 at 05:41 AM

David:

Yeah, somebody pointed this out below as well (see comments). But pastors are only paying approximately 6.5% more than everyone else for FICA (and not 15.3% more than everyone else) as generally everyone already pays approx. 6.5% (that is, everyone pays 1/2 of FICA, which is 13.3% this year) themselves out of their paychecks.

And then a minister only pays that rate (13.3%) up to 110k, and then pay something like 3% after that. So, for a minister making $260k, we are talking less than 20k. That means the $260k minister is paying a FICA rate of less than 8% (compared to the "average Joe" who, making less than $110k, is paying approx. 6.5% already).

Less than $20k is not going to break the bank. And it is tax deductible too.

Tom

September 7, 2012 at 02:00 AM

Hi,

coming from the UK, $260,000 sounds like a lot.

To put it into perspective the Prime Minister of Great Britain gets a salary of £142,000 ($226,000), a Bishop in the state church gets £39,020 ($62,000), while it's not unusual for Ministers to have stipend rather than a salary, somewhere between £16000-22000 depending on the denomination.

Mark V

September 7, 2012 at 01:25 PM

I can't believe we're debating if $260/year is a lot of money. That is extreme wealth - both by worldwide and national standards. It comes out to $5000/week!!! That's one pricey sermon those congregants are getting.

I get together with other pastors in my area and we discuss salary issues every once in a great while. One of my colleagues pointed out the flaw in paying a pastor like a lawyer, doctor or businessman. In each of those other professions tangible, measurable results are demanded for your work. So applying the same rubric to a pastor would mean that the ones making the most money should be attracting the most converts. I can objectively say (based on Scripture) that a spiritual community should not function this way.

It's actually in a pastor's best interest that churches don't function this way, because once the church loses its edge he's out the door just like the CEO who didn't produce results.

Al

September 7, 2012 at 01:08 PM

@John - a man who doesn't learn and won't take rebuke. Thanks for telling us who influences you. We know who to avoid.

William Pugh

September 6, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I think you're right on, John. What we don't see in a survey is the heart towards the money (see the last sentence of John Carpenter just above) nor the use of the money (see the second sentence of dwk).

May God guard my heart around money issues in my church.

SLIMJIM

September 6, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Amen! And a church that is stingy with it's pastor is a spiritual issue of the heart.

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Sorry, I used to be an editor and am a bit obsessive/compulsive!
You're point is good and worth attention.

Bob

September 6, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Fair enough:-). I actually went out of my study and ask a couple assistants and was led astray:-).

Michael

September 6, 2012 at 08:36 PM

@Al & @ Theo K thank you for your encouraging words. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 rings true with your words, thank you.
@John I understand that my previous post was brief in description of both the church that I serve in and the community that the church is located. Maybe with more information about the ministry that God has placed me in your comments would not have been so cutting and hurtful. If you would like to know more information you are free to email me @ michaelgilliam.matt2819@gmail.com. For the record the closest likeminded gospel proclaiming church is 12.8 miles away and 1/2 the congergation is made up of under the age of 18. God is working miracles weekly in our little town by the transformation of lives. As to the comments about my preaching I will say: Christ centered, gospel centered, verse by verse thru books of the Bible. To quote Spurgeon - "No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching."
Galatians 1:10 is on my desk reminding me of who I serve.

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 08:09 AM

In 1 Timothy 5:17f, the "teaching elder" is said to be worthy of a "double honor" and that's not just a sentiment but related to the pay he deserves. Ideally, a congregation should want to be generous with their pastor and a pastor should be willing to work for free if he could. It's tragic when the congregation is stingy and the pastor is squeezing them for every penny he can get.

Neil

September 6, 2012 at 08:02 PM

First, who calls a man to be a professional pastor? God calls us to repent of our sins and accept the gift of grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is God, not man, who distributes the adequate gifts for HIS ministry. The Holy Spirit interprets scripture, not scholasticism. The professional pastor seems to have this connotation that his position is the mediator to God. You also are saying that the Holy Spirit is not sufficient for revealing the truth a God‘s word to someone but a seminary is. You also presuppose that the sermon is some kind of holy discourse that is necessary for the gathering of believers.

Second, my argument is equating the paid professional with Paul’s ministry. Let it be known by your own admission that every elder that teaches should be paid according to your interpretation of scripture. I know a lot of elders who should demand back pay for this "right" to teach God’s word. Do you honestly believe Paul would back up what you are implying? (1 Cor 9:18; 2 Cor 2:17) Show me one scripture where the Lord Jesus Christ said in the Gospels that He deserved to be paid? I seem to remember-Matthew 8:20, Matthew 10:8; Mark 9:35. Paul said it is better to give than receive. (Acts 20:35) This is not only contrary to the passage in 1 Timothy, but the Greek words for double honor is “double honorarium”. Every paid professional uses this verse to back his position because he assumes that the elders of the 1st century mirror the paid pastor of today.

What do you think an unbeliever sees when they see a pastor living in a 12 million dollar home? This article should seriously raise some questions as to why a Senior Pastor should make 100,000 dollars a year and the average "laity" salary is 40,000 dollars a year. Entitlement has run rampant in this country and the pastoral ministry ranks up among the secular Western world. Upton Sinclair stated it rather well, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 07:53 AM

Perhaps the best thing would be if that church were led to merge with another nearby, faithful church, if there is one, that can support a man who will give his full-time to the "ministry of the Word"?

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 07:51 AM

I don't short change what God can do. I just don't think you're God!

In many areas in small town or rural America, especially in the South, the solution to so many small churches that can't fully support a pastor and so call someone part-time is to close the church or merge with another one. In some areas there are simply too many churches that aren't doing anything effectively for missions.

Two notes: (1) if the 35 people are all adults, then the church either isn't giving enough or they aren't paying you enough; (2) if you're in James for six months then you probably aren't doing expository preaching but topical preaching in a verse by verse order. I don't believe someone could spend that much time in James without skipping to other passages to fill in the time.

I know I'm being curt.

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 07:45 AM

Hi Neil,

There's no basis on which to say that our modern system of having a pastor is derived from Catholicism. Each of the three branches of the Reformation (Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist) had pastors and for a simple, practical reason: not because they all forgot to reform that practice of the church but because churches need at least one man dedicated to full time "ministry of the Word." It takes years to learn to do it adequately -- the candidate will need to learn at least the basics of the Biblical languages -- and is too time consuming to practice regularly while trying to also work elsewhere. Hence, the Apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:17, speaks of the elders who "rule well" and "labor" (i.e. hard, time-consuming work) deserving to be paid. That's the norm for the church from the beginning.

If your objection is to having a "one pastor" system, then the solution is not no full-time pastors but multiple "teaching elders". But, again, some of them will need to be supported by the church (1 Cor. 9; 1 Tim. 5:17ff). And practically some churches can't afford to support more than one teaching elder.

Your statement about the Apostle Paul is simply mistaken. In 1 Corinthians 9 he establishes the principle that the church is commanded to pay the "preacher of the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:14) and calls being paid a "right". He simply was not accepting pay from the Corinthians because of their immaturity (likely ideas and feelings similar to those you have expressed). In 2 Corinthians we learn that he was being financially supported by the Macedonian church while living in Corinth. In Philippians 4:15 we learn that he accepted financial support from them. To begrudge financial support to a sound preacher of the gospel is profoundly unChristian and reveals a serious spiritual problem.

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 05:54 PM

Hi Neil,

First, your reply is too long.

Second, you start out claiming to point out (falsely) a false dichotomy of mine and then make one yourself. Yes, God calls some men to the ministry. And then they should get prepared. A truly called man should be willing to invest the years in training so that he can fulfill his calling. They need to learn something, especially at least something about the original languages of the Bible so they can actually read the Bible themselves and not be completely dependent on translations. Further, I do not believe that faithful expository preaching can be done regularly by someone who is other-wise employed. Apparently, neither did the Apostle Paul since he told the church to support them (1 Timothy 5:17f).

Third, you're simply ignoring scripture. In 1 Corinthians 9:14, Philippians 4:15, and 1 Timothy 5:17f, there is no doubt that Paul took pay, said it was commanded by the Lord, that there were teaching elders who "deserved" pay for their labor.

Fourth, you make claims with no evidence: "In most cases, these men had professions". Actually, the 1 Timothy 5:17f suggests that being a teaching elder was their profession.

Fifth, while some of what you say is true about the early church, you're mistaken to suggest that Calvin supported a "monarchical episcopacy" and that they simply changed the term "priest" to pastor. That shows a remarkable lack of understanding about the Reformed movement. Further, to claim that the modern model of the church (a sermon) was developed and hasn't changed from the third century is, frankly, absurd.

Finally, 1 Corinthians 9:14 doesn't confine the command to provide financially only to Apostles, missionaries or the itinerant. It is a broad principle that the "preacher of the gospel" is to be paid. It is a "right". In case there were any confusion about whether this applies to a local church teaching elder, 1 Timothy 5:17f clears it up. There Paul is speaking specifically about a local church elder who labors in teaching the Word and says that such a man "deserves" his wages. As I see it, the NT is as clear on this as it is on the sinfulness of homosexual activity or the leadership of men in the family and church and those who deny that clarity are doing the same thing to scripture that those who say they can reconcile scripture with homosexuality or feminism. The case is closed.

Theo K

September 6, 2012 at 05:17 AM

Thank you Michael for your faithfulness to our great God and your love for the people He called you to shepherd.
YOu are a living example of the fact that God supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Keep pressing on for the prize brother, it will all be so worth it in the end :)

David Zook

September 6, 2012 at 04:47 PM

Phil:

Incisive tax analysis, but what most people don't realize is that pastors pay both sides of FICA (15.3%). Don't know what the FICA ceiling is this year, nonetheless nearly every mega pastor's income will exceed the ceiling. That's about $15 to 25K a year pop to the income.

Neil

September 6, 2012 at 03:58 PM

John Carpenter,
This is a reply to your reply to my post. Not sure why I am not able to reply to your post...anyway,

A false dichotomy says one needs to be educated in the word to become a pastor. This is directly opposed to Paul’s letters to the Ephesians because in this letter Paul said the Lord Jesus Christ gave the spiritual gifts to His church and that some will be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The Holy Spirit provides the right gifts for the local church and to say otherwise contradicts the word of God. The professional pastor relies on seminary training and teaching of men to become a professional pastor. The plurality of elders in the 1st century was spiritually gifted “older” men appointed by the apostles. All future elders came from within the local church because the preceding elders taught them. If the elders were paid, the church freely gave them gifts. In most cases, these men had professions and were examples to the flock that never lorded over the sheep. The modern professional pastor usually presides over a congregation that owns a building, pays overhead costs on the property, and pays a staff to conduct the church business. This in turns causes passivity among the “laity” because they pay a professional to “do” church for them.

The early church fell away from the plurality elders because of leaders like Ignatius and Cyprian who wrote letters saying that the bishops of these local churches stood above the common believer. This did away of the priesthood for all believers because it said that God appointed these men to perform beyond the average Christian. (sacerdotalism) Constantine established Christianity as the national religion in the 3rd century and then brought in pagan practices to the church that still exists today. Luther, Zwingli and Calvin rejected the priesthood of Catholicism but never did away with this monarchical episcopacy practice because they simply changed the priest into the common term of pastor.

The church should compensate those who need to be compensated. Paul preached the Gospel all over the Mediterranean and this required him to travel. The argument of not paying someone is not against those who preach the Gospel, it is against those who believe they are in the same position that Paul was in the 1st century. The modern pastor is nowhere close to who Paul was. The early church was a body of believers. They all gave to each other what they were able to give. They especially helped the poor and the widows. The church also gathered together to eat together, to worship together and to edify each other by the gifts each received.

The modern institutionalized church pastor wears multiple hats and he is in charge his own corporation. He presides over everyone and sets the by-laws and the do’s and don’ts. This is contradictive to the word of God because instead of an organic living body gathering in fellowship, you have a regimented service that centers on one man speaking 30 minutes on how “his” church needs to be better Christians. Take away the sermon and I doubt very many people would show up on a Sunday morning. This institutionalized church has nothing in common with the early church. It was contrived by the men of the 3rd century who turned the body of Christ into a corporation. We all have bought into the idea that the way we do church is just how we have always done things. However, if anyone reads their Bible they begin to see that the way we do church is nothing like the Lord Jesus Christ intended.

If a congregational church has a pastor who preaches the word of God and centers every sermon on the cross of Christ you need to pray for him. You need to take care of him and his family because it equates to him being gifted by the Holy Spirit to evangelize to the lost. However, if you have a preacher who mishandles the word of God, it is right of every believer to see to it that he stops preaching immediately. I know the Holy Spirit has gifted many pastors (shepherds) within a congregational church and it is their giftedness that needs to protect the flock from false teachers. The problem is that many false teachers have surrounded themselves with itching ears who not only worship their pastor; they will stand by him even if they are presented with the truth.

Al

September 6, 2012 at 03:40 PM

@John: too right you're being curt - and let's add arrogant to that as well.

You have no idea of Michael's context. You haven't a clue what kind of church he serves. You have no idea how he preaches. You have a very narrow and fixed idea of how to do ministry and it is clear that, as far as you are concerned, unless everyone conforms to your way of thinking, they are wrong. In the meantime you feel free to litter the comment section with negative and discouraging remarks to men who are sacrificially giving their service to churches. You also dishonour their wives and children who give them up for this service and imply the churches they serve aren't worth bothering with.

You even have the audacity to tell these small churches they should close or merge! There may be very good reasons why they stay open. Maybe God wants them to stay for reasons incomprehensible to you, John! Who are you to dictate their worth or call Michael a liar because he says he preaches James in a certain way? As far as insisting that regular expository preaching cannot be done by anyone less than a full timer - have you ever considered the thought that maybe other men are just a lot better than you at preparation and more efficient in their thinking than you so it doesn't take them as long as you? Just because you are a bit slow doesn't mean everyone else is.

You are questioning the ministry of men who are not chasing glory and fame for themselves but leading churches who are small and quiet, aware that they teeter on the edge of survival every week. Yet they remain faithful, meeting together, studying God's word and worshipping regularly. They may spend all their lives doing mission and see none, or very little fruit, that would justify to the world (and some Christians it would appear) that they have a quantifiable worth. God sees and God knows. It is God who will judge their worth. And the God I read about in scripture is the one who loves the weak and the vulnerable and the poor.

Praise God that such ministers still exist. Praise God for their faithfulness to the small and poor people of God. Praise God that this church that is too poor to support a full time minister has been given Michael who serves without being a financial burden to them.

Michael, I applaud you and your like. You are an example to us all. No one here should be criticising you.

John Carpenter

September 6, 2012 at 02:41 PM

Can I get you to do my taxes next year? :)

Paul ST Jean

September 5, 2012 at 12:36 PM

According to the early church manuals before Constantine and large churchs. Most "house churchs" did not have a pastor and they relied on itinerate "apostles" who would travel from place to place and if they asked for money they would be considered "false" apostles.
I don't propose to not pay our leadership, it is just interesting that the early church did not have regular "salaried" pastors.

dwk

September 5, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Not sure about Keller, either, but you're right about Piper. All income from his books goes right into DG. I dont know where he'd fall on the scale, but I'm pretty sure he gives a hefty chunk of his salary back to Bethlehem. I imagine with all the scrutiny these guys are under (both from loving church leadership as well as outside critics), it would be tough to live an overly-extravagant lifestyle, even if they wanted to.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Mel,

Good point. If that pastor who is making $260k a year (the one I mentioned above) is living in Manhattan, then it makes a lot of sense.

mel

September 5, 2012 at 10:59 AM

This is interesting as far as trivia information goes but in some ways it is dangerous.
We do not know "who" determines the salary.
Is it a pastor led church or elder led?

How many other pastors are on staff and how much are the jobs of the pastor are divided up?

How big is the staff the pastor is overseeing?

What is the cost of living in the area?
What looks very affluent in the Midwest can be a drop in the bucket in a large city like New York or L.A.

I just think it would be very easy to pass judgement and start feeling sorry for ourselves. Essentially coveting someone else's salary without knowing any of the responsibility that comes with it.

I would also point out that we are all called to be disciples and the examples we have in scripture are of people that gave up everything. Now we have a special name for them, missionaries. That allows the rest of us to stay home, live our lives and read blogs.

Glen Davis » …

September 5, 2012 at 10:58 AM

[...] How Much Money Do Megachurch Pastors Make? [...]

Bill

September 5, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Who knows, but I don't think Piper makes money on his books, and Desiring God is one of the most generous organizations that our church has ever worked with. They have given us hundreds of books for free numerous times in foreign languages to take on trips with us. Not sure about Keller, New York is brutally expensive to live in, but if I was a gambling man, I would bet Piper is at the bottom of that scale.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 09:33 AM

Actually, given their responsibilities, I don't find the pay unreasonably high (as a whole. However, the guy making $260,000 (see comment below) seems like a lot). But I do think transparency is important (and healthy), for the church.

But you should be aware that salaries, in real terms, are higher than these numbers suggest, for two reasons:

1) 90 percent of pastors get additional money (retirement money) on top of their salary. (See page 4 of the report).

2) As the report says, the salary they receive is broken up into two components: housing allowance and cash. Pastors don't pay any taxes on the housing part (for some reason the report doesn't mention that). Since this can be a fair amount of money saved (tens of thousands of dollars!?), the salary is higher, in real terms, than most people making the same amount of $$$.

I would also be curious to see how these salaries match past pastors' salaries. That is, a historical comparison. Although that might be hard, as there are probably few historical comparisons when you are talking about a church with a weekly attendance of 5,000. But still, you could make a reasoned stab at it.

Flotsam and jetsam (9/5) | Everyday Theology

September 5, 2012 at 09:10 AM

[...] another new study looks at How Much Money Do Megachurch Pastors Make? Apparently you make an extra $8,000 on average for every 1,000 additional people in attendance. $8 [...]

Joe Carter

September 5, 2012 at 08:53 AM

*** The information about money the churches pay toward retirement seems especially thin. ***

Yeah, I'd like to see more on that too. The compensation can seem rather high, but from the numbers it seems that the pastors have to fund their own retirement. The same is true of housing. Almost none of the pastors live in a parsonage.

Considering that in the past many pastors (at least those with denominational affiliations) received both free housing during their ministry and pay for life after they were unable to work, this compensation may not be all that unreasonable.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 07:59 AM

One last observation,

The correlation between size and salary seems surprisingly weak. Look at figure 3 on page 5. The dots in that chart/graph are all over the place.

For example, there is one senior church pastor (approx. 5000 weekly attendance) that makes less than $90,000 a year, while another senior church pastor (approx. 4500 weekly attendance) makes $260,000 a year.

It make me wonder about all the churches that don't want to (or didn't, for whatever reason) share their salary info.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 07:47 AM

I'm not sure what to make of this study. But it is interesting.

A couple things to think about:

1) There are approximately 1600 protestant churches with weekly attendance of 2000 or more. Only 209 of them participated in this study.

2) As the executive summary says "this is not a random sample," and the "findings are not statistically accurate for all larger churches."

Some things I'd like to know:

1) How many were contacted, and how many chose not to participate?

2) The information about money the churches pay toward retirement seems especially thin. Since that can be a large part of compensation, it seems like there should be more info.

Rick

September 5, 2012 at 06:42 AM

So the idea of counting people= success= $ is reinforced.

Is success the number of people in the seats?

John

September 5, 2012 at 06:35 PM

How much do Tim Keller and John Piper make?

Neil

September 5, 2012 at 05:49 PM

First, we need compare the 1st century church of the New Testament to the institutionalized church of today. The modern pastor is a direct offshoot of the priests of Roman Catholicism of the 3rd century. Luther wanted to reform the church but he certainly kept the same unbiblical hierarchy started by Ignatius and Cyprian of the first centuries. Constantine made this monarchical episcopacy official in the 3rd century. Paul was a traveling apostle who preached the Gospel. There was no modern day “pastor” position in the early church. The elders were older men who fit the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The modern institutionalized pastor is for the modern institutionalized church. This one-pastor system is not only unbiblical, it all but mirrors the Pharisees of the first century.
Paul was a traveling apostle and church planter and he did receive gifts but in most cases did not want to receive gifts. If we take this scripture (1 Cor 9) in the context of the Corinthian church we see that Paul did not boast of preaching the Gospel and nor did he want to make others believe that he needed to be paid for something he wanted to do freely. (1 Corinthians 9:15-18) If the modern pastor feels entitled to preach the Gospel then it says more of his heart than it says for his love of the Gospel. The problem is when we pay someone who preaches a false gospel and these wolves feel entitled to receive a salary. What then do we say?

Lydia Smith

September 5, 2012 at 05:19 PM

This study doesn't take into account the HUGE payments many pastors of mega churches receive on the conference circuit. This is a feature of the big pentecostal churches - I'm sure its not an issue at TGC events!
It works like this:

Pastor Bill is pastor of First Life Bountiful Hope Worship Centre (or whatever!). Each year he runs a massive "Dreaming for the Rapture" (or whatever) conference which brings two speakers (and spouses)from across the country or from overseas all expenses paid plus large speaking fee.
Later in the year, one of these guest speakers, Pastor Bruce from Mountain Praise church in Sydney Australia, runs his own mega conference "Faith Springs Amazing Joy Strength Rally", in Sydney and invites Pastor Bill and another speaker all expenses paid plus large speaking fee.
Its an enormous gravy train, and these fees don't appear as "salary" on any books. Perhaps the study should have checked "Conference Expenses".
As I say - I'm sure that TGC conferences are very different!

Michael

September 5, 2012 at 04:56 PM

I am a bi-vocational pastor, God called me to a small country church of only 35 people that all live under the poverty level. The church pays me $7200/year total and that is all they can afford. I work a full time job to provide the balance of the income that it takes for my family of four to live on. I preach expository sermons (we have been in the book of James for 6 months now) and God always makes sure I have enough time for my family, church, and employment. To say that someone can not "do it well" is short changing what God can and does on a regular occurrence throughout the world.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 04:53 PM

It is true that in some rarified areas $2 million doesnt buy a "big" house. But you know what it does buy? A $2 million dollar house.

Now you might not feel extremely wealthy relative to your neighbors, but IMO, you are in fact extremely wealthy, relative to everyone else in America. Or, at the absolute minimum, well on your way to becoming so. Indeed, i would go so far as to say, if you cannot become extremely wealthy as a pastor on $260,000 year, using sound investment and tax avoidance strategies, you aren't doing it right.

Here's how the tax shelter is realistic: $120,000 in mortgage yields $90,000 in deductions for mortgage interest. You are down to $50k taxable. Throw in charitable deductions, property taxes, and dependents, and you are income tax free.

Rick

September 5, 2012 at 04:44 PM

So Osteen should be getting paid more than almost anyone else? He is packing them in.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 04:06 PM

If you're in some areas, a $2 million dollar house isn't big. There's just no way to spin $260k (which is the highest here) as being "extremely wealthy".

I'm not sure about your match. I find it hard to believe that a mortgage is going to yield a $140,000 tax shelter per year.

DaveL

September 5, 2012 at 03:58 AM

How much money does Jesus, pastor of the biggest church ever, make?

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 03:52 PM

Thanks for taking the time to share your insights. Very good!

One quibble: "fare" is a fee charged (like a bus fare). I think you meant to say "fair". :)

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 03:49 PM

I agree with you. Faithful, expository teaching/preaching takes too much time to do on the side. Anyway, I don't think there is any legitimate grounds for confusion from 1 Corinthians 9 or 1 Timothy 5. I believe those who try to create confusion about these passages are dissolutioned with the church and have some ax to grind against the ministry. At best, they are just naive, thinking that preaching an expository message is as easy as getting up and talking.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 03:36 PM

Agreed! Ideally most of the work of the ministry is done by the membership. I believe that regular preparation and preaching of messages takes too much time to do well on a regular basis for someone to do it "bivocationally".

Bob

September 5, 2012 at 03:33 PM

I am a Pastor of one of those churches. I was pleased with the survey. I was expecting a huge attack on these Pastor's salaries. Thanks for being kind. I am in the 120,000 full package (salary & Housing)range. It is fare for our Suburban area. I have not asked for this salary our Elders/Deacons have determined this for me. I am thankful and feel blessed to tithe, support mission beyond and pay all my bills. Our leaders use discernment and logic about my responsibility load and are fare. I know that comparatively Pastor's of Churches in my denomination get minimum salaries of 75,000 (Salary & Housing) and are serving churches of 200 active members. In my case we have 6 sites and I mentor/disciple/train the pastor's and serve on a few boards across the country. The Bible says much is given much is required. I understand that. I just ask churches that underpay to ask their Pastor if they are ok and the Mega Churches to not overpay.

Matt

September 5, 2012 at 03:23 PM

Correct that it was a maturity level thing. If they would be suspicious of him and thus harm his witness, Paul would not accept money from them(since they may think he is out for the money) however as trust and Christian maturity grew, he naturally accepted support. I think it couldn't be clearer. Of all the gifts, teaching takes TIME. A good expository sermon may take 30 hours preparation for a young pastor(like me). please tell me in what other part of the week they will be working full time to provide for their family. Once you get the paradigm it makes perfect sense how God set it up. (by the way that doesn't even include pastoral things and vision/discipleship time)

dwk

September 5, 2012 at 03:22 PM

That's a pretty reasonable approach. As for additional responsibilities, I hope more pastors follow Ephesians 4:11-12 and train the body to do the work of ministry as well. I agree with what you're saying, but after a point, I don't *want* my pastor taking on additional responsibility, especially as the church grows.

As interesting as these figures can be, it's drawing attention to .5% of pastors. I imagine the greater problem with the other 99.5% of pastors is that they are underpaid.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 03:20 PM

Hi Nate,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not familiar with Frank Viola. I'll have to look him up. I am familiar with the Plymouth Brethren who argued similarly but have in many places come against the hard reality that most men cannot handle the responsibilities of the ministry as a side-job; so the ones that I know of have come to having full-time pastors.

Another person who sometimes comes to these blogs and espouses similar ideas simply insists that 1 Cor. 9 is only relevant to the itinerant (today about the missionary). But I don't believe that is in the text. Paul very generally says "those who proclaim the gospel" in 1 Cor. 9. I don't know how they dodge the simple words of 1 Tim. 5:17f.

In the end, I believe it is a simple matter of accepting scripture or not. And I note the derisive attitude expressed by him about the church and the preaching of the Word. It is essentially a spiritual issue.

dwk

September 5, 2012 at 03:14 PM

Arthur, I'd like to address your points:
1. I'd like to hear your interpretation of what Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 9:8-12. Paul was not a pastor in the sense we use the term today, but he obviously means something. What is your conclusion, and does that conclusion differ greatly from the work of a modern pastor?

2. The verse speaks of elders who rule well, particularly those who preach and teach. 20 hours seems to be a reasonable lower limit on preparation time for a weekly sermon, maybe a little less. Adding on even a few additional duties that most pastors perform, is is unreasonable to consider them "full time"? Put another way, can you reasonably expect someone to work a full time job to support themselves and their family and still find time to put together a God-glorifying, congregation-edifying, Gospel-presenting sermon each week? And that would be assuming the preacher took on no further duties. It doesn't strike me as very realistic at all.

3. Similar to the first point, what is your interpretation of the "rights" in verse 12 and 15? If you are using Paul's example to set the standard for preachers of the Gospel, I would also like to hear your thought on what it meant for Paul to "preach the Gospel". In other words, would Paul consider his teachings in the epistles to fall under preaching the Gospel?

Nate

September 5, 2012 at 03:02 PM

John, I don't think we're even on the same topic as Arthur right now. I think he's perhaps a fan of Frank Viola or his ilk, and the idea of a local church that has a pastor preaching a sermon on sunday morning from a pulpit to people in pews is repulsive to him because it is not described in the NT in the way that it unfolds in 2012. Obviously this is not in itself a problem, but for the sensationalist, it is indeed easy prey.

Arthur has made no real distinction between an elder/bishop/overseer teaching other Christians truths from the Bible (specifically the NT) on Sunday morning, and an evangelist or apostle (the former being the only real active office today of the two) "preaching the Gospel" in a given context. Paul seems to be arguing for covered living expenses for both apostles/evangelists (1Cor9:14) AND elders/bishops/overseers (1Tim5:17) respectively, but Arthur only sees one office there and doesn't think a Sunday-morning preacher makes the cut and therefore deserves no one's money.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 03:00 PM

I suspect most aren't getting "extremely wealthy." But I bet a few are.

Here's one way, at $260,000 you can afford to spend $10,000 a month on a house (So, what, that's a $2 million dollar house?) (remember, that $120,000 you are paying per year comes out of your housing allowance, and thus cuts down signficantly on your tax burden). You can then build wealth fairly quickly through house equity and/or appreciation. Also, each year you are paying your mortgage, you can also take the mortgage interest deduction. So your income of $140,000 (left over) is basically tax free (or at least at a very, very low rate).

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 02:55 PM

Arthur,
In 1 Corinthians 9:14 he says exactly of whom he is speaking: "those who proclaim the gospel". In 1 Tim. 5:17f, he says he is speaking to the "elders who rule well, especially in preaching and teaching." They deserve their wages.

I'm grieved that you call the church "a local religious organization" and that you regard proclaiming the gospel to be "prepared talk". Your attitude is not Christian.

Further, you're wrong about Paul: the verse you cite from 2 Corinthians is Paul teaching the Corinthians that they should have been supporting him but they were too immature so he had to continue to be supported by the Macedonians. Further, he thanks the Philippians for supporting him financially (Phil. 4:15).

No where does he teach that elders and those who proclaim the gospel should work for a living. That's frankly a false statement. His teaching is clear that those who proclaim the gospel should get paid; the laborer deserves his wages. By his example, he expected churches to support him.

You are simply wrong and need to change instead of continuing to twist scripture.

Nate

September 5, 2012 at 02:50 PM

The use of the word "pastor" as being synonymous with an elder/bishop/overseer is probably erroneous to begin with, but Paul seems to be speaking of himself and Barnabas in one sense, and using apostolic authority to advise elders and Church members on whether or not to pay those who lead/teach in their congregations. And the "robbing" passage is quite clearly being used hyperbolically to describe the fact that he is not accepting support from them, but because it is his right as a teacher/leader/apostle he did accept from another group who was totally willing to give.

Your last sentence/point is in direct opposition to 1Cor9:14 and 1Tim5:17. He is commanding that they pay someone, regardless of what his own actions were in another place and time (which are not contrary to his command anyway), and that someone is whatever teacher/leader/overseer/elder (all, for the most part, synonymous) serves in their congregation. I understand your frustration with those who have abused this NT-backed system, but that is no reason to cherry-pick within the text.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 02:47 PM

Hi,

1. Paul isn't just speaking of himself. In 1 Corinthians 9 he is speaking generally of "those who proclaim the gospel" (9:14). To them, he says, the Lord Jesus has commanded that they be paid by those to whom they are preaching.

2. In 1 Timothy 5:17, the word "labor" means to "labor", i.e. to work hard. It's not a hobby on the side, like golf. It takes time; it is an occupation. Then, "“The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Tim. 5:18, again establishing the principle that the preacher of the gospel has a God-given right to be paid.)

3. In 1 Cor. 9 Paul has been making a case that the "those who proclaim the gospel" (not just himself or the itinerant or the apostle) has a God-given right to be paid. He concludes that with the saying quoted above, saying that it is a command from the Lord Jesus. He then goes on to explain that he is not availing himself of this "right". In 2 Corinthians he explains that he was being financially supported by the Macedonian church so as not to take money from them. So it was not as though he wasn't getting paid; he just was not being paid at that time by the Corinthians. And he was only doing that in Corinth because only there was it an obstacle.

You've simply not accepted the clear word of God.

Arthur Sido

September 5, 2012 at 02:39 PM

John, is 1 Corinthians 9 speaking of "pastors" in a local church? It doesn't say that in the text and it doesn't imply it. You seem to (falsely) equate proclaiming the Gospel with being an employee of a local religious organization that delivers a prepared talk weekly. The one and only time that Paul received support from the church wasn't even the local group he was meeting with and he described taking that support as robbing the other church ( 2 Cor 11:8 ). Paul, by example and by teaching, expected men to work for a living and not be a burden on the church.

Arthur Sido

September 5, 2012 at 02:35 PM

John

Case far from closed.

1) Paul was not a pastor and to apply 1 Corinthians 9 in that way is unjustified by the text.

2. Where in the world do you draw "full-time ministry" from 1 Tim 5:17? It says nothing of the sort unless you assume it already is there.

3. Paul does not conclude, even as we realize that he was not a "local church pastor" as we understand it, with verse 14, he concludes with verse 18 where he declares that his reward is preaching the Gospel free of charge. You don't even recognize that he said that being paid to preach the Gospel (not even close to giving a prepared monologue sermon weekly to the church) was an obstacle to the Gospel.

Your certainty that clergy should be paid doesn't stand up to even basic scrutiny from the Scriptures.

E

September 5, 2012 at 02:26 PM

D probably meant that the amount subtracted from your income as exempt from the income tax is your housing allowance, the fair rental value of your home (furnished), or your actual housing expenses for the year(rent/mortgage, utilities, home improvements, etc.) - whichever is lowest. So if your housing expenses were less than your housing allowance for the year, that's the amount that's exempt, not the housing allowance.

Or perhaps he meant any money spent above and beyond the actual housing allowance, rather than cost, is then taxed as income. If the housing allowance is low, or major improvements were made, this could happen as well, given the above qualifications.

Nate

September 5, 2012 at 02:22 PM

Paul indeed used Old Testament exegesis as well as Jesus' teachings to justify meeting an apostle or elder/bishop/overseer's (specifically, his and Barnabas') living expenses with voluntary offerings from the Church. See 1 Timothy 5 and 1 Corinthians 9.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 02:17 PM

No problem. I also made the "classic" mistake of saying "taxes" but meaning only income taxes.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 02:17 PM

I don't see anyone getting "extremely wealthy" here. The highest salary is $260k which is upper middle class. Whether it is excess or not may depend on the cost of living where he is. It is about the same or less than other occupations which require the same level of education (like law or medicine).

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 02:06 PM

Yes, in 1 Corinthians 9 Paul orders the church to financially support preachers of the gospel. "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." (v. 14). He then calls being paid a "right". In 1 Tim. 5:17ff he suggests similarly.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 02:04 PM

Arthur,

Hi. First,let's recognize the Biblical fact that some people are called to full-time ministry (1 Tim. 5:17ff, etc.)

Second, let's note the message of 1 Corinthians 9. First, in 1 Cor. 9, Paul firmly establishes the principle, for several reasons, that "the laborer" deserves his wages, speaking specifically about the preacher of the gospel. Then he concludes, 1 Cor. 9:14, "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." He says he is the exception, not the rule and we know from 2 Corinthians that he accepted financial support from the Macedonians. Even in the verse you quoted, the preacher of the gospel being paid is called a "right". Case closed.

Wade

September 5, 2012 at 01:49 PM

Well, since you asked, all the wealth on earth is His since he is sovereign over all.

John Carpenter

September 5, 2012 at 01:46 PM

Generally, I think, a pastor's salary ought to be set at about the average of that of his congregation. As a church grows, perhaps some rise in salary is understandable -- as there maybe more responsibilities -- but perhaps what is more necessary is more staff to help shoulder those responsibilities.

D.

September 5, 2012 at 01:46 PM

Oops, that is what happens when you comment quickly and get distracted by the kiddos...sorry. It was a mistake.

Rick

September 5, 2012 at 01:40 PM

I am for pastors being compensated for their hard work, but what determines how much? Attendance? A large church does not mean one is faithfully performing his duties as a pastor.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 01:39 PM

Andrew and E,

I'd rather pay a tax of approximately 6.5% rather than 30% (federal plus state) any day of the week.

Phil

September 5, 2012 at 01:35 PM

Yes, I should have said "income tax" on housing.

However, in some cases, churches pay the pastor's self-employment (SE) tax. (Churches may pay all of it, half of it, or none of it). [Indeed, the report does not provide any information in this regard.]

Given that most people who are employed pay 1/2 the SE tax (around 6.5 percent now) out of their own paycheck, and their place of employment picks up the other 6.5 percent, the fact that pastors have to pay all of it themselves (which only results in an an increase of about 6.5% over what everyone else is paying) is still significantly better than paying 25% (or whatever income bracket you are in) income tax on the housing portion. (And note that you pay neither federal income tax nor state income tax on the housing portion.)

It still works out to be a significant tax reduction.

Finally, I am not sure what you mean by "any money spent above and beyond actual housing cost" is then taxed as income. That doesn't make sense.

E

September 5, 2012 at 01:34 PM

Actually, the housing allowance (or what was actually spent on housing expenses if it was less than the allowance)is exempt from income tax, but the self-employment tax rate for social security is applied to the the whole income, including the housing allowance. (Wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't!)

Mark V

September 5, 2012 at 01:33 AM

It's strange that men are becoming extremely wealthy by preaching the Word of God. John Calvin's analysis of "Give us this day our daily bread" seems fitting here. He requests that God give him nothing less than he needs to continue trusting in him but nothing more than he needs to prevent him from being prideful or indulgent.

Barchetta

September 5, 2012 at 01:28 PM

Some make more than they should, most probably not enough for the 24/7/365 jobs they do.

Arthur Sido

September 5, 2012 at 01:28 PM

He "ordered" them to pay these guys a salary?

Arthur Sido

September 5, 2012 at 01:22 PM

Paul ST Jean above raises an interesting issue, one that gets glossed over and proof texted to death. Should men demand payment to "serve" in the church?

The greater question is not how much the megachurch guys make. In our corporate model of "church" it only makes sense. The question we should be asking is why are we paying able bodied men in the first place, subcontracting out the work of ministry to a small cadre of professionals? Paul worked for a living, rightly viewing the demand for payment to be a obstacle to the Gospel (1 Cor 9:12), and also to provide an example to others (2 Thess 3:7-10). Paul wasn't even a "pastor" but a traveling itinerant apostle and church planter. Until we are willing to ask these questions, the issue of mega-church salaries is irrelevant.

"What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:18)

Andrew

September 5, 2012 at 01:14 PM

Paul,

That's not entirely true. Paul ordered churches to pay their pastors and appointed pastors/elders/bishops. There certainly were other instances where it may have been on a volunteer basis, and some still do this today, but the general command of Scripture is toward paying pastors.




Phil,

Another factor to consider is that pastors are considered self-employed and must pay their own social security. The housing allowance (which is probably only 1/3 to 1/4 of the salary) is not taxed at the double rate, but the rest is.

D.

September 5, 2012 at 01:12 PM

Actually, pastors do not pay income tax on their housing, but they do pay self-employement tax. Also, any money spent above and beyond their actual housing cost is then taxed as income. They still pay.

Jun

September 12, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Wish all had your viewpoint, Mel.

Why is it a big deal when pastors are blessed?

Neil

September 12, 2012 at 04:26 PM

The tithe is not New Testament doctrine. The early church gave freely to each other and believed that every thing they received came from God. Since they also believed that the new covenant through the Lord Jesus Christ supersedes the old covenant, they were no longer required to live under the levitical laws. Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Everyone gave was within their means. They gave to those who needed and they gave with a cheerful heart. (2 Cor 8:1-15)

2 Cor 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and ncrease the harvest of your righteousness.

mel

September 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Godly pastors tithe too.

Neil

September 11, 2012 at 03:18 PM

John,
I apologize for the long posts and this is my last response on this matter. I feel that it may not matter since you and I seem to view scripture differently.
Anyway...In order for you or anyone else to equate the “paid pastor” with the elders/overseers of the 1st century requires The Holy Spirit's interpretation of scripture using the whole council of God's word centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.

The “pastor” of today tends to wear the many hats of the five-fold ministry of Eph 4:11. How can one man be gifted with all these gifts? This position does away with the priesthood of all believers because it elevates a man above the rest of the body and takes the glory from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is defined as sacerdotalism because you believe that your position is divinely appointed position making you as the mediator to God and His people. You also cannot associate your position to Paul’s role as a traveling apostle because you have a stationary title that requires you to oversee a local body.

This false role was filled by plurality of unpaid elders that were gifted by the Holy Spirit according to the need of the body in that location. The early apostles first appointed these “older” men and they were to receive double honor (respect). They never received a salary because they made a living through whatever trade they did before they became elders. Paul addressed this church in Ephesus with these two scriptures (1Timothy 5:17-18; Acts 20:33-35), which pertained to these elders and not traveling apostles like Paul. Paul was a tent maker by trade who waived his “right” to receive any gifts for preaching a free Gospel. (1 Cor 9:14-18; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9). What is even more disturbing today is that pastors require a tithe from the laity to support their position. The tithe was done away with old covenant and yet these unbiblical vocations brow beat the sheep into adhering to old covenant legalistic laws.

If you equate your role to that of stationary elders, then EVERY elder should receive a wage because they teach the Gospel. Of course this is not what was intended because the body freely gave to those who were in need. In addition, the elders did not have titles like the Pharisees, yet these “pastors” today have titles like Senior Pastor, Pastor, Reverend, Vicar, Doctor, Bishop and Father. The Lord Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees that no one is to have a title. Only the Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ are to have titles. (Matthew 23: 1-10) there is just too much scripture opposing the “paid pastor” today. I admit this is a tough nut to crack because we have all bought into traditions of men instead of the pure word of God.

I will not apologize because it is my hope you come to realize that your title is not in the Bible. It is a man-centered position that thrives from pagan practices and traditions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. I pray that the Holy Spirit would not be quenched in the body and that we can all humbly fall before the throne of the true Shepherd who provided all our needs through the gifting of the Holy Spirit and not through these man-made practices.

For God’s glory!
Neil

John Carpenter

September 10, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Hi Neil,

Once again your response is far too long.

Also, you've taken scriptures out of context and totally twisted others to avoid what they really say. The fundamental issue is your refusal to accept the Word of God and perhaps whether you have some kind of rebelliousness or bitterness toward God-ordained leaders in the church that compels you to distort scripture and attack those He's called. You need to stop posting and deal with these spiritual issues.

Matthew 10:5ff is about the Lord Jesus sending the disciples on a "mission trip" to give them experience. While it's important history for the training of the Apostles, it's not clear what, if any, that passage has do with the ministry in the church today -- except possibly a model for internships.

1 Corinthians 9:14 is absolutely clear. In it's context, it is even more forceful. Paying "the preacher of the gospel" is a command of the Lord Jesus Himself; it has OT roots; and receiving that pay is a "right". Your attempt to say that 9:14 is for men who should get nothing is perhaps one of the boldest attempts I have ever seen to make a scripture say the opposite of what it really does say. It's on the level of those who try to negate the scriptures on the sinfulness of homosexual practices, etc.

Further, you have not dealt at all with 1 Tim. 5:17f which is specifically applied to the "teaching elder" in the church who is said to deserve his pay. In Galatians 6:6, the church member is also commanded to share materially with the teacher of the Word. In 2 Corinthians, we learn that Paul was supported by the Macedonians while ministering in Corinth and in Philippians 4:15 we learn he was supported by the Philippians before that.

I also note that you've not apologized for the misrepresentations about church history you made earlier. In my experience, when someone makes false statements, is exposed, and then tries to move on, it suggests they aren't interested in seeking the truth.

Finally, you'v made several statements about scripture that are false and made some severe charges that you need to repent of.
You: "God’s word is clear that the “pastor” position of today is NOT in a valid position." Prove that. In Ephesians 4:11, it says that the Lord has given the church pastor-teachers. The office of pastor is a Biblical position, synonymous with the teaching elder of 1 Timothy 5:17f who deserves his wages. In Hebrews 13:17, you're told to "submit to" and "obey" those the Lord has appointed over you. If you find that verse hard to believe, then ask yourself why.
You: "What you and many like have done is placed yourself in these positions of elder. . . ." False. I was called and voted on by my a congregation. I did not appoint myself. That you would make such a false statement gets us back to the spiritual problem you have. You need to deal with whatever it is that is driving you to hate the church and distort God's Word.

[...] and the charlatans at work in the Americas converting the masses to evangelical Protestantism and becoming millionaires in the meantime. The Catholic Church has over 1 billion members, nominal or not, and a history [...]

Mel

October 1, 2012 at 12:23 AM

Whatever. The men that preach tithing would be doing it also. I know some that give more than 10% even at an age when others would retire. Argue with that.

Francis Obasogie

July 10, 2013 at 06:39 PM

The recent popular usage of the term, CEO for ministers of the gospel does not help at all. I know a senior pastor is at the helm of affairs in a church, but CEO sounds too business-like. Such a title I believe will not help to foster an air of humility...no wonder some of the pastors would demand more and more.

2012 By the Numbers: A Look Back |

January 1, 2013 at 03:30 PM

[...] Median salary of a megachurch pastor: $120,000 [...]

[...] Median salary of a megachurch pastor: $120,000 [...]