Luke 10: 7 says, “the worker deserves his wages”. I remember a church meeting where the membership was discussing the pastors salary (mine). One member piped up, “Pastors should be so glad they can serve God in this way they should be willing to do it for free.” Unfortunately, there are churches that pay that way too.
What do you do if the church is not paying you enough? Do you just say, “I’m trusting God and he will provide?” Some of us probably do. Or do we quit and look for a better paying job?
I’ve asked for more money a couple of times in my ministry at different churches. I’m pretty hesitant to do this. It feels really awkward asking for more money. But what do I do when I can’t afford a hair cut for my wife, and I can’t meet the bills without going into debt? I think there are times that we need to ask for more.
Why is asking for more okay? I think that many elders, or whoever is determining your salary, probably don’t even know what you get paid. It just happens. So asking informs the decision-makers of your current reality. I also think that some believe we don’t have to make as much as others because we get the clergy housing allowance. But the benefit is not as great as some people believe. And if we are going to provide for our families, we need to make sure we get an income that is fair. Our families should not suffer because we are in church ministry. Asking also invites the decision-makers to think of you and your needs and not just the budget and what came in last year. Churches tend to pay their pastors according to past income. It’s okay to ask the church to pay you a fair wage and to invite them to do so by faith, even if it means the budget will need to increase.
Okay, so if you do ask for more, how should you do it?
Make sure you are living responsibly already. I don’t have cable. I have a pay as you go cell phone I share with my wife. I have one vehicle. If we are spending unwisely we have no right to ask for more money. And you should be modeling responsibility anyway.
Check if your denomination or church has a Guideline for paying Pastors. If your organization has a guideline to follow, you might want to see if your church is already matching that. If they are coming up short, then you have some information to back your request for more.
Make your request to the appropriate people. Don’t talk about it with everyone in the congregation. Don’t spring it on your church at the annual meeting. Talk with those who have the responsibility.
Teach on biblical giving and tithing. If you are too scared to preach on tithing and giving then you probably shouldn’t be asking for more money. At the same time, never preach on tithing if it is only so that you will get paid more. But you can help your congregation be obedient in giving so that the decision-makers will be able to give the needed raise when requested.
These are just a few things to consider. May you be able to live responsibly, teach correctly, and ask bravely when necessary. And most of all, may you trust that God is going to provide for you.