Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 23, 1959
NUMBER 50, PAGE 2-3b

Some Thoughts On Preachers' Salaries

Jack Meyer, Birmingham, Alabama

(Editor's note: This thought-provoking article by Brother Meyer has been re-printed in several church bulletins. We picked it up from the "Floral Heights Mirror" of Wichita Falls, Texas. It deals with a much neglected subject, and should be carefully read by every Christian.)

Less is said among churches on this subject than on any other Bible subject. Only at rare intervals is any such teaching done by any except the full-time preachers. And we do almost none of it. It lays us open to criticism by the selfish and dishonest ones who want to get by as cheaply as possible in paying the preachers. But the subject is a gospel one with the New Testament ordaining that, "They that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel," (I Cor. 9:14). Even in private meetings of elders and deacons, or open church business meetings, only a very few make any insistence that thorough attention be given the subject and that the "Golden Rule" (Matt. 7:12) be applied. So, if EVER the churches are to be taught on the subject, it must be done by the preachers and such few others as have a sense of fair play, teaching "the WHOLE counsel of God," and who are not afraid to speak up and be heard.

Often we hear this: "Preachers are making pretty good salaries. The preachers make more than I do." Correct. Some of the finest Christians make less than some preachers. But there are some other FACTS about preachers' salaries that should be considered. Those making less than the preachers will often want to know these FACTS.

1. The average preacher contributes at least from 12 to 15 percent (and it is certainly true in my own case) of his salary through his home congregation. Just how many members even get near that figure? Those making the objections in the above paragraph in almost all cases give less than the average member, and nothing near that.

2. Often you hear that criticism from those where both husband and wife are working, and sometimes where there are no children — whereas the wife of the average preacher does not work away from home, and there are usually children.

3. Further, many business companies have provisions for employees' pensions, retirement, etc. — but what preacher among churches of Christ has such future security benefits?

4. And the same can be said of many other company benefits for employees.

5. Only recently has the government allowed preachers to go on "social security" — but companies pay a part of the social security payments of employees. The government does not allow churches to do this — unless they assist the preacher directly. Just how many have you heard advocating that the congregation be as fair with the preacher as their company is with them? ? ? ?

6. Practically all churches of Christ having full-time preachers these days have come around to the policy of supplying a home for the preacher as a part of his income. Many of them pay the home utilities, and many add allowances for car expenses, since a preacher's car will be used 90 per cent in line of job. There are companies who provide and maintain cars for their employees and also allow them to be used for personal use.

7. Many companies provide a regular scale of salary and wage increases for employees, as men gain years, experience, knowledge, skill, etc. How many churches are this fair to their preachers? On the contrary, we sometimes hear this: "We should have a fixed, maximum figure, and let it always stay there." This ignores both the changing living costs and every other principle of justice which guides business companies, who provide gradual regular increases. And it ignores the increasing ability of a church. Why shouldn't preachers also receive wage increases as do those brethren who are employed by businesses, companies and industries?

8. Sometimes we hear this: "We must pay the church debt ahead of schedule, but not pay the preacher more." But preachers with the right ability help to pay those church debts quicker. And this objection is nearly always hypocritically assigned, whereas there is something personal or doctrinal, motivating that objection.

9. It is also a fact, not known by many sincere members, that when preachers take issue with the doctrines and practices of some people, they take their spite and contempt out on the preachers by unjust salary schedules. THIS IS WHY many men, enjoying the security of secular employment, and who are good pulpit men, will not go into full-time preaching — they know they will have to be at the mercy of spiteful men, little ideas, and churches who will not inform themselves, plus others who will not express themselves.

10. Those who say that "the preacher makes more than I do" make two other fatal and tragic errors: (a) They are comparing their jobs with the preacher's job in relation to the church. Is THAT a fair comparison? (b) They are showing a spirit of jealousy and envy, saying, in effect, "the preacher must not make more than I do." Such a spirit should be abhorred and shunned by all Christians.

How about reading this article again, slowly considering deeply the thoughts. Then ask yourselves: Just how unfair can brethren be? Just how little sincere appreciation can they have — and show — for sacrifices that preachers make? There is a side to this question that little is said about, and is little known. Think it over! But the compensations are in the knowledge of serving God and Christ, of seeing souls helped, of seeing the fruits of our work, and knowing of the appreciation of some. For those compensations this preacher is profoundly grateful.