Preacher’s Pay

“Not one, but several denominations are agitating over this continent for better pay for the average preacher.” This article was written 99 years ago:

“A valued contributor vouches for the fact that the average salary for preachers in twelve leading denominations is less than a thousand a year.

  • The average preacher is married. Most of them are raising children, feeding them, clothing them, buying medicine for them and sending them to school.
  • The average preacher works seven days a week.

He must wear good clothes; his wife must dress well, and his children cannot appear in tattered and torn rags.

His congregation insists that the preacher and his family must not display any sign of poverty, and the preacher must wear a smile—always. He must have a cheery word for every man, woman and child he meets. He must not complain.

Once in a while a preacher quits the pulpit and takes another job—one which will leave something in his pay envelope after taking out the tolls of butcher, candlestick maker and the baker. Then his congregation speaks of “his fall from grace.”

A preacher ought to preach. What right has he to stew and fret about shoes for his children, food for his table and the declining years of life?

And above all, a preacher should never mention his pay envelope, for his congregation has arrived at the conclusion that their pastor will reap his reward in the hereafter, than which no human being could desire a greater reward.

So the congregation distributes halos, passes to paradise, and reserves seats in heaven to its pastor. Having been thus generous in the matter of spiritual rewards, the members of the average congregation hand over about two or three cents a day, which totals the munificent sum of less than $3 every twenty-four hours for the preacher.

You know, the average congregation imagines its pastor never would get to heaven unless it permitted him to preach to it each Sunday. That’s the impression the preacher must receive every time he gets his lean pay envelope.

So he goes on preaching and praying for his employers, and for everybody else under the sun. There are times, of course, when a preacher gets to pray for himself and preach to himself. Usually, though, the average preacher has his hands full preaching and praying for his congregation.

When he’s not preaching and praying he is visiting the sick and helpless, the aged and the backslider. Aside from these duties he has nothing else beyond attending to the socials; the half-dozen or so church societies; the boys and girls, the Sunday-school; soliciting money for a new church; collecting for home and foreign missions; burying us and marrying us; baptizing us and converting us. Once In a while the average $3 or less congregation will permit its pastor to take exercise mowing the church lawn or sweeping snow off the sidewalk.

Truly is the “laborer worthy of his hire.” The only trouble in the matter of the preacher’s hire is that his congregation expects the Lord to pay about 80 per cent, of the hire.

It is better to increase the content of the preacher’s pay envelope than to contribute for homes for aged pastors, and it is more pleasing to preachers to get regular sized pay envelopes while they live than bronze tablets after they’re dead.”—The Winnipeg Evening Tribune; 1919.

  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

⇑Matthew Henry Commentary: “Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the laborer.”

How much does a Pastor earn these days?