Riverside Church Pastor Resigns: Thoughts on Compensation & Stewardship

I do want to offer this correction from the comment below. According to this Open Letter from the Church Council at Riverside Church, Rev. Dr. Braxton’s total compensation was $460,000 – not $600,000. This is helpul information to have – though I think the underlying questions still pertain to the situation.

Brad-Braxton

The Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton has resigned today from his position as Senior Pastor of Riverside Church (details here). Braxton has served Riverside for just 9 months before submitting his resignation. Many of you probably first heard Braxton’s name when the NY Times ran the story about his compensation package back in April of 2009. According to those who were labeled as “dissidents,” they said his package was over $460,000 and included:

  • Annual base salary of $250,000
  • Monthly housing allowance of $11,500
  • Pension and life insurance benefits
  • Entertainment, travel and “professional development” expenses
  • An equity allowance for the future purchase of a home
  • Money for a full-time maid
  • Private school tuition for his 3-year-old daughter

First, let me say that I have heard some really wonderful things about Rev. Braxton. He is a fellow FTE Fellow and was a part of an FTE Conference a few summers ago. I was also very impressed with him after watching this segment from a Religion & Ethics Newsweekly Report. I have also been to Riverside Church for worship before and know that it is an historic church for our country and would be quite the place to try to step in and begin to serve. It is also a congregation that has dealt with a lot of controversy in its rich history.

However, I’m guessing that this story is being used as a very complex case study in seminary classrooms all around the country, because I think it brings to the fore a lot of questions about terms of call, pastoral responsibility and stewardship, among other issues. Also – many who have commented on the situation thus far – have said that there are many issues of racism at work in this story, which is also very sad and brings up many justice-related issues.

As I asked around on Twitter & Facebook this morning, I’d say that *most* people felt pretty comfortable with Braxton’s compensation package. Some said it seemed fair compared to what other pastors of large churches make. Some said that it’s appropriate because it’s NYC, an historic congregation, the most prominent US church, high income tax in NY State, cost of living, etc. There were others who question its appropriateness, some thought it was ridiculous and one person said very eloquently that it’s “just too damn much money for a pastor.”

Sarah and I were talking about it this morning, and she feels pretty strongly that on a whole, pastors are generally underpaid. And I’d certainly agree with that. How many other professions are there where you can go to college, graduate school, attain advanced degrees and then struggle to pay off debt and live above the poverty line in some places in our country? So, I do agree with her that pastors are on a whole underpaid.

And again, I don’t know anything about the circumstances of Braxton’s family life and situation that all contribute to his salary package. And I believe that pastors (and youth pastors) should really be given more in terms of continuing education, travel reimbursements and professional expenses. Another interesting thing would be to know the median income of those who attend Riverside Church. Are these dissidents in the congregation people who are receiving similar compensation packages from their employers, and just think pastors don’t deserve to make that much money? Or is it in fact a race issue, and if it was a white pastor who was called to Riverside, would people still think a package of $460,000 is exorbitant?

There are clearly many things we don’t know – and so I want to offer the thoughts below with the knowledge that I may be missing a lot of the facts. However, when a compensation package for a pastor reaches close to $460,000 – even if the person is the Senior Pastor of one of the most prominent churches in the United States – I think there are some important questions that need to be asked.

Is it okay for a pastor to make $460,000?

riversideChurchI really don’t know. When I first heard that Braxton was being offered a $460,000 package – I was pretty stunned. As I’ve said above, there are more than likely a lot of things that I don’t know about the situation and all the details. Who knows, maybe $460,000 is not the actual amount. But, my gut still tells me that $460,000 is too much.

I don’t think that pastors need to necessarily live at the poverty line – and certainly they need to be able to provide for their families’ needs. I’m certainly not of the opinion that pastors don’t “deserve” to make a decent living. After all, one day they won’t be pastors anymore, and they need to have been able to save or provided with a pension to provide for their family and be able to enjoy their retirement. However, I think that even someone who is serving one of the most prestigious churches in the states, and someone who is living and doing ministry in New York City, can do this for much less than $460,000/year. It does sound like “just too damn much money for a pastor.”

I know that many of you will disagree with me. And let me say – I do agree with my wife and many others that pastors are underpaid, and I think they should be more adequately compensated for their life of service. Heck – I certainly enjoy some nice things (MacBook, iPhone 3G S) – and I don’t think that pastors shouldn’t be able to enjoy some nice things in life. And while this is easier to “say” than even come close to “living by” – but what about when Jesus said:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Again – for those of you about ready to leave a comment like this – I’m not going to go out and sell my iPhone today. But it seems like there is some tension between a $460,000 compensation package and Jesus’ reminder that our treasure will be in heaven.

Is it good stewardship for a church – especially in our economic climate – to offer their pastor a $460,00o compensation package?

I don’t know about this one either. I don’t claim to be familiar with Riverside’s annual budget or how they handle their money. I do know they are a church radically committed to social justice. And it seems a little odd that a church that committed to social justice and to fighting the injustices in our society would decide to offer their pastor such a generous compensation package.

What does it say about the church’s call to stewardship when they offer their pastor such a package?

I thought it was interesting that in this video, one of those who was not supportive of Braxton (for theological reasons – not related to his compensation package) said that some thought the compensation was fine because that’s what “other churches of our size” pay their ministers. And she said, “Since when does Riverside Church do things because OTHER people are doing them?” Riverside Church has always seen itself (and, rightly so perhaps) as a church that is leading the prophetic witness for radical welcome, hospitality and inclusiveness in this country. As a prophetic church, it seems that they might want to also be prophetic about their use of money – being away that poverty and issues related to money are what Jesus spoke the most about in scripture. Paying their Senior Pastor a compensation package that is equivalent to what some CEOs of corporations make seems to be moving away from their prophetic witness.

I could be wrong

I realize that I could be totally wrong about this. I also know that if the Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton and I sat down with one another, I would really like him – and hopefully he would see me as a fellow colleague in ministry. I do want to say that while there are some from Riverside Church who are claiming that he’s a “fundamentalist” – I can’t see where they’re getting that. With his connections alone to the Fund for Theological Education – an organization that I was a Ministry Fellow with and still stay connected to – I know he’s certainly no fundamentalist. So, my critiques of Braxton and the situation don’t have anything to do with his theology.

It’s just that in my gut, I feel that when a church offers a minister a compensation package to the tune of $460,000 – that’s “just too damn much money for a pastor.” What do you think?

Comments

  1. says

    Too much, definitely too much. I don’t even think this can be debated.

    It would be one thing if he was being open about where that money was going, but if that money is being used to pad a nice lifestyle, I just don’t get it. How can you do that and then preach what the Bible says?

  2. says

    It’s a difficult call really, and your post seems to really reflect that there is no easy answer.

    I’ve got to say from very personal observation, that it can be difficult to work in a relatively affluent church and not be paid a salary that allows you to live a lifestyle commensurate with a large majority of your congregation.

    There are constant unspoken expectations about this or that thing you might be able to do (the type of house you life in, vacations, dining, cultural events you attend, etc.) that one cannot even begin to meet if they are not paid at the same sort of income level that the congregation enjoys.

    I don’t know much about Riverside, but I imagine that the social demands and expectation of that pastorate are very high. I imagine that there is not a single moment that you are not “on” as that pastor. I imagine that there is a certain expectation placed on the pastor about entertaining his congregation in the home. And I imagine that $600,000 is quite appropriate and in line with those expectations in that particular setting.

    Is that the way it should be? No. Is that the way it is in that context? Yes. Should it be challenged? Perhaps. Would I want that job and would $600,000 attract me to it? Absolutely not.

  3. Kelly says

    I think that maybe this is a bigger problem than just pastors’ salaries. I think that maybe we’ve gotten screwed up about how much we need or how much we should be paid. Maybe people who lead corporations etc. shouldn’t be paid so much either.

    I do think that there needs to be some sort of overhaul in the system, though–we go off and get advanced degrees, paying for them out of our own pockets, and then are expected to spend the rest of our lives paying off the debt we incurred to get to this point. I think that maybe large churches such as Riverside, as well as smaller churches, need to put money into funding seminary education for people so you don’t end up with new pastors with enormous burdens of debt. Of course, as a beginning seminary student, I could hardly feel otherwise! Despite my bias, however, I really believe that it would be best if we could fund the seminarians. I think a housing allowance is perfectly reasonable, although does anyone really need $11K/month? I don’t know what things are like in NYC so maybe he does, what do I know?

    I’m curious, though, whether you would turn down a similar compensation package offered to you, Adam. I think that for me, it would take some serious prayer before I would be able to go to a church and say “no, thanks, it’s too much. please pay me less.”

  4. Adam Hearlson says

    I don’t usually weigh in on blogs, but I feel compelled to direct your attention to the open letter sent to the UCC by the church council that hired Dr. Braxton.

    http://www.ucc.org/news/letters-the-riverside-church.html

    This letter specifically states that the $600,000 figure is erroneous. I am not sure that it changes your central point, but you should probably begin the conversation with the correct figures.

  5. says

    I think it could be debated but the problem is that we don’t know how he was using it. Yes life in NYC is much more expensive than most of us understand. $11k+ a month seems much, but maybe thats the going rate around the church for a 3-4BR + 1/2 cars.

    Beyond that we are simply making judgment calls based on our perceptions of what was going on. Do we know how much he gave away? How his family allocated the money? What of that money was spent on personal ministry (you ever had dinner out in NYC for 4-6 people? $$$!).

    I would just encourage those of us to look at this situation and believe the best in our brother. This doesn’t meant that we have to agree with the figure of the compensation, but believe that it was a sensible amount for his services (however the church decided that).

  6. says

    Thank you for posting this. I have been thinking about this all day. So an African American minister that makes $250,000 + some substantial benefits. cash a year at the church that Rockefeller built is too much? Let’s not throw all the other benefits (like NYC housing in the mix, Pension and Medical at 14%, professional expenditures). I wonder how much the white male or female ministers at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church makes, or Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, or Rutgers Presbyterian Church? Maybe $250,000 is too much, but is not in line with CEO’s of major corporations, heads of Wall Street Firms and Major Bankers in NYC. They have been making well above that. Instead of pointing out the few who make a little higher than the average we should be working for equitable pay for the women and men clergy who toil in the Bronx, Spanish Harlem and pretty much everywhere else that are underpaid for their services. We should also fight for the employment of those who are underemployed, unemployed and unemployable in our society. I’m with Paul, “A workman(woman) deserves their pay.” Pastor’s need to unionize!

  7. says

    I think this is a fair post, pretty down the middle. You explain both sides and really both are right. It comes down to how much value you put into your pastor and the expectations you have for him. This was more than a full time job if he had to not only run the church but also attend extracurricular events. Having private school for his children is not an unreasonable request in NYC as the school systems there are subpar.

    I would have more of a complaint if he were a pastor in Detroit or Cincy or Dallas because the cost of living is astronomical in NYC, as it is in California. Moving out here, I am breaking even with what I make but I am still never going to be able to buy a house at my current salary. If I were living in Michigan and making what I currently make, I would be owning a pretty nice house and other amenities.

    While pastors may be underpaid, I feel that administrative people get the shaft in the long run. They run the church and keep it going daily, while the spiritual leaders are busy praying, counseling, etc. I think if I were ever to be an advocate for social justice, it would be how little administrative people get paid compared to the rest of the staff.

    Good post Adam.

  8. says

    I contested this at so many different places and in so many conversations, but here we go again.

    Why aren’t churches compensating staff with equal pay for each staff member? Why does senior pastor with 3 kids needs paid more than the youth pastor with 3 kids? Isn’t compensation in the church different than compensation in the marketplace? It’s the most awkward thing on earth graduating from college – pumped about serving God – and having to negotiate a contract with a church….

    First off, you have to have a theology of compensation and I think – right now – in most american churches – that theology is getting in the way of ministry…..

  9. Mark says

    I am wondering if his compensation was really the issue here or if it was what was presented by the dissedents as the issue, but is really hiding their real issues with him? From what I read it seems to me that their main concern is that he is too conservative. My guess is that if they had otherwise been happy with the selection, the compensation would not have been an issue…or at least not as big of an issue as it is.

    It seems like a lot of money, but in my experience it is so hard to judge the adequacy of another’s compensation. Also, pastor’s compensation is noteriously decieving. In some denominations, some 35-40% is paid to the denomination to for pension/medical/etc. These are real benefits, but not cash in pocket compensation.

    Still, in my experience, compensation only becomes an issue when other issues or problems are present.

    Good post. Good questions.

  10. says

    Would we be having this conversation if Dr. Braxton was resigning from running a legal practice, or a medical clinic? I doubt it.

    Pastors are professionals (at least PCUSA pastors are). They are required to attend professional school in order to be ordained, making $250,000 plus benefits in NYC is (I would guess) common for doctors and lawyers, why not for pastors?

    I agree with several other commenters that there should be fair compensation for all, I’m not sure that means everyone gets paid the same (ie administrators, youth directors, etc.) but your compensation should be commensurate with your gifts and skills.

    Finally, I’m not sure what the fuss is about, I’m pretty sure Rod Parsley, Joel Osteen, and others make a butt-ton more money.

    Greg

  11. says

    If the median wage of the congregation is below $460,000 then it’s too much to pay the pastor. In a congregational context like this one, a pastor shouldn’t be one of the wealthiest members of the parish. That said, we still live in a supply / demand country. If the going rate for a prolific, well-educated, articulate pastor is $460K…and the church is willing to pay that amount…then so be it.

    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Paul Rack says

    1. How much did Jesus make?

    2. I heard that in New Zealand pastors are paid by the denomination by seniority, regardless of the size or wealth of the church. Whether that’s true or not it’s still a better idea.

    3. The compensation gap between pastors is an obscene caving in to Capitalist values and hence evil.

    4. The Rockefeller money is probably more of a curse than a benefit.

  13. ben w says

    For full-disclosure, this comment is from one who much more deserves the title “fundamentalist” than Dr. Braxton. I’ve got a few responses:

    1) It’s laughable that someone would call Dr. Braxton a “fundamentalist” (in the linked video). This is despite his “views on Scripture” (I assume he’s no inerrantist by that comment) and his endorsement of same-sex marriage. Like the Dr., I simply have no category for a “Christian church” that doesn’t feel comfortable with calling people to faith in Jesus and preaching from the Scriptures. It’s tragic that Dr. Braxton felt he had to defend himself because of these basic, hum-drum, orthodox, albeit specifically Christian, convictions (Jesus, Bible, faith, etc.) “Fundamentalism” is sadly just an ad hominem to be used whenever you find someone more theologically conservative than yourself.

    2. I’m a seminary student as well, but I strongly disagree with those who make appeals to pastors being “professionals.” I think such a vision of the pastor is based on modern corporations, not the biblical witness or the life of the Apostles. I agree w/ John Piper: “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. . . professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness, there is no professional tenderheartedness. There is no professional panting after God.”

    3. At this point, so far as I can discern my heart, if for some asinine reason a church offered me such a salary, I would ask them to lessen the package to something more reasonable and divert the rest to direct ministry opportunities. (Prov. 30:8-9).

    4. To give sooo much money to a pastor who has just been hired reminds me more of the NBA Draft than the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.

    5. Yet, if such a gift was given by a congregation to a pastor (or me) who had already loved and served the congregation for 5-10 years, then that’s a glorious, gracious, loving gift to give that pastor (not a signing bonus or payment for services rendered).

    6. And still, since God owns all, the pastor would have to give an account to God for every dollar spent of that gift. I would hope it would primarily be used to bless others (sending his children to college, assisting the needy among the church / community, funding mission and church planting efforts, etc.)

    7. A pastor should be well compensated, not because his sermons are worth $5,000 each, and his prayers worth $250 each, etc., but because the Church trusts him so much that they want him to be free from financial concerns so that he can be more free to serve and minister among the body and the community.

  14. says

    My denomination (The Salvation Army) makes this very simple. All ordained clergy (‘officers’) receive a set amount prescribed by the denominational headquarters for that country. The details differ around the world, but I receive a set allowance every fortnight. My wife (who is also ordained) receives the same amount. We get an allowance depending on the number of children we have, a car to drive and a house to live in.

    The fortnightly allowance is increased slightly every three years and there are other increases at (I think) 10 and twenty years of service. Our HQ puts money aside for retirement, and most health requirements are also covered.

    This sounds like a lot—it is, really—yet compared to most ‘professionals’ it’s really a pittance. Still, it’s more than enough to live on comfortably and there are absolutely no negotiations to worry about. We know exactly how much we will be getting when we sign up.

  15. says

    My wife and I are both in ministry (she an UMC elder, me a youth minister ordained in the Baptist church currently working at an UMC), and I would definitely agree with you, Adam. Clergy are *generally* underpaid, especially those who are burdened with student loans. My wife was fortunate enough to come out of school with no debt, but she’s a lot smarter than I am…haha. I had to take out student loans for part of undergrad and most of M.Div.

    When in comes to clergy compensation, there are problems on both ends of the pay scale. Most make too little (once you factor in that most clergy are considered self employed by the gov’t and must therefore fund all their taxes as opposed to a split between employer and employee), some make way too much. I think 450k+ is definitely too much. I think paying a youth minister with a master’s degree 24k a year is too little. Somewhere in between those extremes is a balance, and I’d love to find it.

  16. Pastor Nar says

    My two cents … and that’s more than I get paid annually (by choice) … $460, 000 IS just too damn much!

    I cannot see Jesus accepting it, Paul, John … maybe Peter, but he’d end up repenting and giving to the Gentiles.

  17. Rose says

    This is one of the more balanced discussions I’ve seen about this situation. As an absentee member of Riverside (I moved out of state a year and a half ago, before Rev. Braxton was selected), I have a few salient comments that have been missed by most of the press coverage of this unfortunate sequence of events.

    The big deal here for me is not so much that Rev. Braxton’s compensation package was excessive (which I do think it was, especially since it was at least twice that of Rev. Forbes). It’s that the church can’t afford it. The Rockefeller endowment is for the maintenance and care of the building only. Even though that restriction has been violated from time to time, it’s not there to support the ongoing ministry of the church – salaries for clergy and staff, social programs, worship, etc. Giving at Riverside, partly due to misperceptions about the endowment, has not been what it should be, especially in recent years. There are six clergy on staff in addition to Rev. Braxton, not to mention the rest of the staff to maintain the social programs, education programs, the music program, etc. The compensation package offered to Rev. Braxton would have necessitated cuts to clergy, staff, and/or programs. That’s problematic.

    I think Rev. Braxton made the right decision for himself and his family, and ultimately for Riverside, by resigning. Independent of the compensation, he was not the right fit for this church, with its proud progressive tradition and complicated and sometimes downright nasty church politics. Riverside is not nondenominational, as some media have incorrectly reported. It’s affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Convention. Rev. Braxton’s style in worship didn’t fit, which is not to say that it could not have evolved to fit with Riverside’s diverse and multifaceted congregation over time – but the hostility he was met with from the day of his arrival would have made that difficult. I have a lot of respect for his scholarship, but from what I’ve heard about the ways he was changing the worship service (the length of the service, the altar call, etc.), I can well imagine that did not calm fears in the congregation about possible fundamentalist tendencies. I wish he’d had more of a chance to evolve towards more harmony with the congregation and its traditions. Riverside does need to be challenged – but not in an autocratic way.

    Underlying all of this – and really the fundamental flaw here – is exactly what Rev. Braxton pointed out in his resignation letter. The church is divided against itself, and must heal its divisions before calling another senior minister. The search process was very flawed – the Senior Minister Search Committee (admittedly elected by the congregation) engaged a search firm to narrow down the candidates, reviewed the 200 finalists, and presented one (yes, only one) candidate to the congregation. The congregation heard one sermon by Rev. Braxton before voting to confirm him. If they had voted not to confirm, the search process would have started all over again, and unconfirmed estimates of the cost of the search range from $600,000 to $1,000,000. The congregation trusted the search process and the search committee, and we shouldn’t have. There I do think we all bear responsibility. If the average member had known more about Rev. Braxton’s style and practices, I don’t think he would have been confirmed. I also fault the Church Council (also elected by the congregation), which especially in recent years has been less than transparent and less than thorough in carrying out their governance and oversight duties. For what it’s worth, I have very good friends on both sides of this divisive mess, and Rev. Braxton’s supporters and detractors are not at all divided along racial lines. The press has been eager to jump on this situation as racially-based, but from my perspective, that’s just not true. Some of Rev. Braxton’s most vocal opponents are African American, and some of his fiercest supporters are white. And as for the argument that Rev. Braxton made folks uncomfortable by talking too much about Jesus, well, that’s just plain silly. The single question members are asked when they join the church is, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” Riverside is most definitely liberal, progressive, and inclusive, but it is a Christian church. All forms of worship are welcomed there, and I’ve been witness to wonderful collaboration by Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist guests in the chancel, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to criticize Rev. Braxton as a minister because he embraces Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

    Riverside will only heal itself if all of its members are willing to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the church’s decision-making process. Ultimately I think Rev. Braxton’s departure is the right thing for the church. I wish him Godspeed in his future endeavors, and I regret that Riverside was too tolerant of such a deeply flawed search process that put him in this impossible situation.

  18. says

    Uhh…”since when does Riverside do other things just because OTHER churches do them”
    uhh…like Financial stewardship and accountability?

    We give credit to God for growing his church, not some dude. $460,000 is exorbitant. However. It is the responsibility of the denomination, and congregation to decide how much is too much, not me.

  19. katie says

    Is it too much? Let me just say I applaud the congregation who gives out of what they have to take financial pressure off of the pastor. And I applaud any pastor who then receives what they have been given and shares as God places it on his/her heart to do so. As a pastor, I don’t judge what my congregants make. In fact, I appreciate it as God’s gifts to these people. And I appreciate that many of them give back so that I can receive a paycheck or so that the hungry can be fed. If all that we have belongs to God, then how can anything be too much or too little?

    I know that my income often “feels” like too little for a pastor to make — student loans swallow a lot of my income as does stupid debt which I’ve accrued over the years (but should have paid off in 3 years even on a small salary!) Still, God provides for my family. If a church wants to pay a pastor a lot, let them. And God bless them for it. Still, as each of us has been given we are responsible to share — whether clergy or corporate CEO or dishwasher. And that is something we must choose to do, so we do not walk away unhappy like the parable of the rich man.

  20. Cindy says

    It’s nobodies business what anyone makes. It’s erroneous that just because you are a believer you have to be poor. A good congregation should take care of thoses that labor in the ministry. Government is just too big but their big noses into who makes what and it’s none of their business. Who cares what CEO’s or pastors make. And for Creflo Dollar, he doesn’t get a paycheck from the church, he has his own businesses that produce and income for him of which he lives on 40% and gives 60% to the church. If you’re looking for something to criticize, try looking in the mirror.

  21. Pastor Chris says

    I think the issue is quite simple.

    A pastor should be making the average of what his church and community salary makes, so that he can be a “man of the people.” Yet, keeping in mind that a pastor also has had to spend a lot of money on education, preparation, and has expenses which the average person does not have. Hence, a bump in salary to be at the true average of the average target group being reached, which should be determined by largest numbers of those who live in the local area.

    In this area, the average salary was 30,902 a year in 2008 (city-data.com). Understanding that this church has a international reach, is a mega-church, and has a pastor that must act as much as a CEO as a pastor, I can understand paying the pastor twice, three times, maybe even four times this amount. (120,000 a year). But 400,000 a year seems excessive.

    Then again, if he is focused on city leaders, national and international ministry and affecting people at that level, then his training, education, and demands will reflect that, and 400,000 is about right.

    The issue is quite simple. It is the APPLICATION of the issue that gets so messy.

  22. Andrew says

    I appreciate this discussion as I am writing an ethics paper on the standard of living for pastors for my final year at seminary.

    Many comments reflect a certain “averaging” logic. What biblical text might support this idea? I know Tim Keller has stated that the pastor should be within the bottom 1/3rd of his congregation and while in his case that might be perfectly adequate – what about the minister who has a PhD but takes an inner-city church? It seems that “averaging” may not always work. 1 Tim 5:18 says that “a laborer is worth his wages”, so it seems that there should be a value somewhat equal to the work. 400K + a year is not an unthinkable value for a pastor, but the question would be – why is it so much higher than other pastors with similar congregations? What extra value is there?

    Another interesting thing is the comments concerning how the money is spent. Why would a pastor be under any different obligation to spend his money for the glory of God, than any other Christian? Sure, he ought to be an example of stewardship and generosity – but can we really justify a double standard (i.e. clergy spend their money for God, lay persons spend their money for themselves). The Bible supports private property – and even amongst professional clergy (e.g. the priest in the OT) there was ownership of land and commodities.

    This case sounds controversial for more reasons than the amount of the compensation package, but many churches simply have no clue how much to pay their pastors, and many pastors are to afraid to talk about it because it would seem greedy or proud.

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