In the discussions this week of the pastor’s housing allowance there was a constant refrain of criticism of pastors who make too much money.
William has raised this from time to time because some highly paid pastors have used the housing allowance to provide multi-million dollar homes and to even try to buy vacation homes with the housing allowance. This kind of thing causes problems for all of us.
But as I read the comments I found myself wondering – how much is too much to pay a preacher?
Most Southern Baptist pastors labor in churches that struggle to pay a living wage, so when they hear of pastors making $100,000, or $150,000 or even more they feel like something is wrong. Is that envy and jealousy or is that righteous indignation at the misuse of the church’s offerings?
I have some opinions here, which I may share later. Right now, I’m interested in hearing from you guys.
- Is there a limit to how much pastors should make?
- Is it inherently immoral for megachurch pastors to be paid mega-salaries?
- How do you determine what a pastor ought to make?
I’ve heard several methods for determining this, but I’m not sure there is a universal rubric for determining pastors’ salaries.
In Cedar Rapids, we had the easiest system I knew. A lot of our guys were engineers from Rockwell Collins Aviation. Since their educational requirement was about the same as what I had (master’s degree) they tried to use what a Rockwell engineer made as a template. I don’t think I ever quite reached that standard – no government contracts to fund my compensation package! – but it was a system we could look at. But that only worked because so many of our church’s leaders were Rockwell engineers.
Here at Southern Hills, we have no such simple standard. Am I overpaid (some would certainly think so!), underpaid, appropriated paid? How do we determine?
And, most importantly, is there a place at which a pastor’s salary becomes immoral or offensive?
How much is too much?