Discussing
New poll: is it morally OK for a pastor to make $1,000,000?

Andy Rau

Mark
June 6, 2008

In my opinion it depends on what they do with the money they make.

Jack
June 6, 2008

Solomon and David for that matter were both quite wealthy. I didn't see anyone fire being rained down on them. ;-)

Smitty
June 6, 2008

Who cares what we think?<br>Now, what Christ would think of such a salary is another question.<br>My pastor is "reasonably" compensated for the local economy.

Matthew
June 7, 2008

I would say "no", as in I would not attend a church whose pastor makes that much money. (I am under the assumption that when you say that a pastor "makes" a lot of money, that he is receiving that money as salary and he is keeping it for personal use)<br><br>The Bible is very clear that as a church, our number one group to seek is the poor. It even says that rich people will have a very hard time getting into heaven (Matthew 19:23). If a pastor (or any person for that matter) keeps a "generous amount" of money for himself, I would say that they are not listening to the teaching of the Bible.<br><br>"Or do you see that large paycheck as a means by which God blesses (some of) his followers?"<br><br>Besides the Bible saying (paraphrasing) "if you do good with money, I will bless you with more", there is nothing in the Bible about God blessing us with a big paycheck. In fact, there are dozens of examples of disciples and followers giving away everything that they had, and NO examples of disciples becoming rich off of their conversion.<br><br>"Would you answer change if the question was directed at a Christian who is a successful business CEO?"<br><br>No. The Bible calls all to give to the poor. Granted, the Bible doesn't say "give everything you have are you aren't saved." But if you truly embrace the teachings of the Bible, then you will understand that having riches on earth means NOTHING in eternity, but to give to the kingdom now will have huge rewards in eternity. God doesn't call us to have prosperity on Earth (again, the Bible teaches against this idea), but He does call us to have prosperity in Heaven, and the way that we do that is to invest into Heavenly things now.<br><br>Matthew

Charles
June 7, 2008

The issue isn't so much "is it OK to make taht much?" It seems appropriate to ask what the circumstances are, as well as how that money is used. For example, pastors living in areas with a high cost of living will indeed need more to survive well, especially if they are supporting their family in so doing. More importantly, what does that pastor do with the money he receives? Is it used for extravagant living? Does the pastor unwisely buy the most expensive and nicest cars, waste money on a house larger than what is required to live in, or hoard earthly treasures for himself? Or does he utilize that money to help the poor, fight injustice, and see to the spread of the gospel among the nations?<br>Money itself is neutral. It is how we respond to that money that really determines the morality of our receiving. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. So to say is it right to receive a large salary is not a complete questions. The question is this: "Do we, by the way we spend our money, communicate to the world that God is great or that money is great?"

Kjml
June 7, 2008

The workman is worthy of his hire...<br> There are too many variables here. A million dollars (in today's economy) isn't what it used to be. It's more than 10X what my family is living on, so I lean toward 'yes" its wrong. Churches are supposed to be about Serving [Jesus] and saving [souls], not about a cushy house and the latest SUV for the pastor. On the other hand, if the pastor's got 8 kids I might be more sympathetic. You'd have to put the question into some kind of context. How big is the church? How much money does it bring in? What does it do with it overall? How hard does the Pastor work? What does he/she do with his/her salary? The pastors I know also tithe, so some of that comes back in one form or another. Is there already a church-owned bus; campground; homeless shelter? All that being said, I have to say, I still think it's too much. There's too many hungry, hurting people out there in the world for one lone Christian to suck up that much all by himself.

Llawhsoj
June 7, 2008

No. Simply put, even with a high cost of living working as pastor in the most wealthy county/area in the country, the answer is still no. I don't care how (s)he spends it, unless most of it is given away, say 90% plus (the 10% left is still 100,000... twice the national average)its just more than they need.

Miamyst
June 7, 2008

Who is wise or mighty enough to question God as to the blessings or the amounts of such Blessings that He bestows on His Children? If God gives according to our faith combined with His required actions concerning such blessings, then those with "Great Expectations" should receive and those who believe that money is the root of all evil should not. The Bible says that the LOVE of Money (not just money) is the root of all evil. How we BELIEVE in our hearts, Speak with our mouths and Act with our money must align with God's Word. We can not out give God, therefore, who is to say how much God has given to a pastor is too much?

Againali
June 8, 2008

I feel that it's OK as long as the pastor is drawing his $1,000,000 salary on his own accord. For example, Joel Osteen makes $200,000 a year from his job as pastor of Lakewood Church (which seems like a fortune to the rest of us, but is fair and reasonable for these times and for the amount of work and travel he puts into his ministry). His millions come from his books, not from his supporters. His supporters have helped his ministry to grow by leaps and bounds, reaching people (such as myself and my family) that others could not. That in itself is a huge blessing, and a wonderful contribution to society. That being said, however...I don't feel a pastor should draw a $1,000,000 salary from his church funds. Not appropriate or necessary.

Albert
June 9, 2008

If Joel Osteen makes $200,000 a year as the pastor of his church and the congregation is okay with that, then who are we to say any different? Would I go to that church? No way. But for so many other reasons other then what the pastor makes.<br><br>A pastor can only make as much as the church that backs him.<br><br>I would love to have a job that paid me $200,000 a year. The things I could do with that kind of money! Would it all be for me? Would I give it to the poor? I couldn't say because I don't have that kind of money.<br><br>I know what my answer should be and if I was not being honest, I would say that I would turn around and give it all to the poor. Or at least 90% of it to the poor. But we all know the truth don't we? Most of us wouldn't be able to do that.<br><br>Now, that being said, I think we should all aspire to all being debt free first. Then, once you are debt free, start giving away 10%, 20%, and up to 50% of your income to every needy foundation you can think of.<br><br>But here's the catch... you can't tell anyone you are doing that. They must all know you are still the same person you have always been. If they don't know what you are doing then you will glorify God by keeping it to yourself.<br><br>Does Joel Osteen give 50% of his millions to charities? I have no clue. If he does that God knows and will bless that. If not, he has his reward.<br><br>Pay the pastor what you can to make sure that money is not a "stress" in his life. He too, has to live on this earth like the rest of us. If he requires $1,000,000 to live on, then evaluate his desires and choose to stay at that church or not.<br><br>I guarantee any pastor that has taken advantage of his congregation will not be pastor for too long. They might be rich for a season but that will be his reward.

Bugskippy
June 9, 2008

I don't think a church should pay that kind of salary. If a church is pulling in that kind of money is should pay the pastor well. But, it should also have a lot of out reach programs: missions, help the poor, ect. If the person is making that on his own merit that is fine. But, that is far more then one person, or family, needs to live. As a Christian I think a chunk of that should be given away, or a fund or charity should be set up.

FishingSI
June 9, 2008

To label "a lot of money" as too much or not enough is an arbitrary discussion. Unless one can provide specifics, the point carries little weight. If I may answer by a more direct response; to place myself in the shoes of my pastor. As is, what may be too much by one standard may not be enough by another. Regardless of any theoretical opinions, the "take away" from this question raises awareness of our duty (in a congregation) to know and approve (directly or indirectly) of our shepherd's compensation. To be financially responsible is to be active in our church's budgetary activities, which includes the wages of the pastoral staff. <br><br>

Tim
June 9, 2008

Why do we hold Pastors to such a terribly severe standard. And why should it depend on what he spends the money on? Everything belongs to God. So everyone on this post should ask what they themselves are spending their salary on as well . . . <br><br>I get really frustrated with people putting Pastors in glass houses that rob them of their masculinity, ambition, and drive for Godly success. It seems any time a Pastor succeeds financially or in popularity we say he's not being Godly. <br><br>Abraham was rich, David was rich, Job was rich . . . and they all maintained Godly character.<br><br>Pastors put out every week and if they get big rewards back - God bless them! They above all deserve it!

Michael
June 9, 2008

Here's the thing: imagine a church of 1500 members. Of those 1,500 members, 1000 of them truly tithe 10%, 250 of them "give generously" to the tune of about 13% and the last 250 give when convenient, maybe a total of about 7% over the course of the year. Assuming, and this is a big assumption, that the average income of the congregation is ~$50k per year, then the church's annual operating budget to cover bills and services is about $900k. Let us say that the pastor makes $45k per year. That seems reasonable enough as a percentage of operating budget--5%, actually. And whereas a church isn't taxed as a 501(c)3 organization, the pastor's salary is taxed. So, realistically, he's living closer to $35 k per year.<br><br>Now let us envision a megachurch with 20,000 members. Their senior pastor also earns 5% of the church's operating budget. Assuming identical economic statistics for the congregation (e.g., average income and rates of giving), then our megachurch senior pastor would earn about $600k per year. Despite the high number, he is not having a financially greater impact on his church than the normal suburban pastor. And because of tax bracketing, he actually surrenders more to the government and is probably living off $400k per year.<br><br>Do we assume that these pastors don't tithe themselves? If so, then $60k goes back to the megachurch and $4.5k goes back to the suburban church.<br><br>So here's my question: do we put a stigma on the dollar amount or on how deep into the church coffers the pastor in question is dipping? It is entirely possible to be generously compensated without robbing from the church.<br><br>Do I think $1million is okay? Not really, because I see no need for it. I'd say a pastor should never make more than $150k per year--a high-demand job with multiple sub-ministries to administrate demands fiscal compensation, and when you have a pastor with a large family who needs a correspondingly large home, you need to pay for him to afford that as well as save for his own retirement, the cost of which will vary depending on the local economy.<br><br>But I can see the other side--$600k versus $45k may not be equal money, but it is equal sacrifice from the churches.

Llawhsoj
June 9, 2008

We hold pastors to a higher standard because we (self included) say we are called to an act of ministry, of service, of being concerned and driven by the interests of others. We also do it because pastoral work is being called to a higher standard, I've yet to meet a pastor who thinks of themselves to the same level of accountability. We can (and should!) manage money well but at some stage (say a million dollars) I think things have gone out of focus. <br><br>Also, I fail to see how me saying that a pastor shouldn't make a million dollars denies him of his masculinity, unless we are defining masculinity by plasma screen TVs and BMWs. Also, we can cite David, Abraham and others as much as we want but at the end we still have to deal with Mark 10:25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Oh and Jesus, now that guy that knew how to make a killing doing the pastoral life.<br><br>

Benjamin
June 9, 2008

Thou shalt not Envy.<br><br>Why is this topic even being discussed?

Charles
June 10, 2008

it is a good point that we should all hold ourselves to the same standard. we should all be cautious when it comes to money. it can easily become our God. So, let's broaden the question: Is it OK for anyone to make $1 million dollars. Which brings us back to the heart of what I said in an earlier post. It's not about the money, it's about what we do with it. We needn't ask "do I have the money to buy what i want?" but instead, "Do I spend the money I have in a way that honors God?" And I don't think living in oversized mansions and driving luxury vehicles and having all the toys and gadgets is particularly honoring to God. Especially when it comes at the expense of not helping those in need and furthering the work of the kingdom.

Charles
June 10, 2008

I ended my previous post too soon.<br>As far as the idea of holding pastors to high standards, would you not agree that God holds pastors to higher standards? If a pastor lives in extravagence, what do you think his flock will do? Paul called several churches to imitate him. So, pastors, as leaders, should be examples worthy of following.<br>The issue is not success. Everyone wants to be successful. But defining success by the size of a pay check is shaky ground and leads to exalting money above God. There is nothing wrong with being popular or "financially successful." But there are many "ordinary" pastors who will never be rewarded in this life for all that they have done for God. They are no less successful just because their paycheck is smaller. I think we all need to redefine success in light of God's standard. It definitely isn't about wealth. Was Paul not in want on occasion? Was he beaten, jailed, and ultimately executed for the spread of the gospel? Of course he was. Was he successful? Yes. Why? Because he faithfully did the task God assigned to him. And so are we all measured: not by the zeros in our paycheck but our devotion to knowing Christ and declaring him.

Pieter
June 10, 2008

One million is a lot of money - no matter what anyone says. The real question is does the price tag associated with this particular pastoral position a signal for those who want to acquire wealth, or will it attract those who want to further the Gospel?

Tim
June 10, 2008

Not saying that money equals TVs and BMWs - you don't even need 1 million to have those - good chance everyone on this blog has a HDTV . . . <br><br>What I am saying is all money is God's money. Should God decide to entrust one of His pastors with a million/year - that's His choice . . . and God will hold that Pastor accountable to His perfect standard for how that pastor handled that money.<br><br>Why do we need to hold him accountable to how he spends it? What if he spends it poorly in our eyes and well in God's eyes? What if he gives it to the wrong people in our opinion and the right people in God's? I think 1 million/year could by approximately 500 HDTVs and 20 BMWs per year. If that's all he's doing with it - do we even need to discuss this issue? <br><br>Plus, Eph 4 tells us that Pastors are called to equip the SAINTS for works of MINISTRY. So according to scripture - ALL Christians are ministers . . . how many ministers make $1 milllion/year now? Are we going to hold them accountable, and discuss their salaries on Christians blogs and talk about how they should and should not spend the money? <br><br>hmmmmm . . . maybe we should. In that case, let's rephrase the title of the entry - "Should Christians Make $1million/year?" <br><br>Got what i'm saying?

GB
June 11, 2008

Salairies are always hard to justify unless you're blessed to have business people in the church who understand the need of "taking care of" their leadership. There's always the issue of perks (health, pension, etc.) add to the total also. Personally, I'm not totally cash poor (I'm at the median income for my church and higher income for the community I serve) but I'm defintely benefit rich, and this works great for our family.<br><br>Whatever the case, the salary should be at least the median income of the church members.

J
June 11, 2008

I don't think this is a moral issue as it is a social justice/ministry issue. If a church is willing to fork out a million dollars a year for a salary, they could probably use that money elsewhere to do productive ministry and help aid social issues. There is also issues of greed too. But it then begs the question: How much is too much to pay a minister?

SiarlysJenkins
June 11, 2008

This topic is being discussed because:<br>a) What a pastor receives for his work as a pastor reflects, in some ways, the moral values and priorities of the pastor, his or her congregation, and the church as an institution, and<br>b) There are some pastors who flaunt how much money they make off their ministry.<br>My pastor observed, in a sermon the eloquently lampooned the "Money Cometh" theology, "I'm not saying a pastor shouldn't be well paid, but before I have a $5 million house, 50 of y'all ought to have a $100,000 house." The same pastor has been known to preach, in general terms, about people who have two to four members in their family but have poured their money into (or taken on huge mortgages to purchase) houses with six bedrooms and huge garages. It does reflect on what our priorities as Christians are.<br><br>It is not necessary for every pastor to live in abject poverty in order to show that they are a truly dedicated Christian who is in it solely for the love of Christ and not for the money. One could, however, suggest that anyone who truly follows Jesus would pay attention to "birds have nests and foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." The more that the money, and the things money can buy, is the focus, the center, of a ministry, the more the ministry has strayed from its calling.<br><br>Now personally, I have two laptops (one of them over ten years old), a digital camera, and a Kia Rio, so I most certainly cannot criticize a pastor who has sufficient disposable income to purchase something of the same. I eat well too. I think that is OK with God, but, the number of people living on less does nag at me.

Marie
June 13, 2008

I don't think pastor's should make significantly more than the average salary of his/her congregation. The pastor will fit in better and have a better understanding of his congregation if he were having the same struggles due to finances and class status as his churchmates. In a city, e.g. New York City, six figures is probably a good thing, as the pastor could actually afford an apartment in the same neighborhood and maybe take a vacation that year, too.

Estimaja
June 15, 2008

Sure, why not. Don't you know that indigenous Missionaries in India or Burma rake in about $1,800 a year. It seems fair to me, I mean with the higher cost of living in America and all.

Gottalovehim
June 29, 2008

hmmm....so how much did Jesus make again? Oh that's right he was humble and didn't require pay, His works were from the heart! His work only cost Him His life...so what's the real objective, to spread the word or make money? Go figure. Read Solomon (Ecclessiastes).

Miamyst
July 13, 2008

If Jesus had nothing coming in the way of monies, why did He have a treasurer who kept the monie sack and stole from the group? Maybe God supplied over the basic needs of Him and His group? Does not God supply for you? Or do you work for nothing?

Rod
July 21, 2008

yes

Rod
July 21, 2008

enough that he never needed or wanted, or the the 12, he even had a treasurer a thief, and jesus knew he was a thief. he had a house in (john) he supplied for 13 on a regular basis and still had enough that the thief was not in need.

Josh
May 26, 2010

Apparently you have never lived in a home of a pastor where your father is gone every night in hospitals and ministers everyday all day and then preaches and has a family to provide for. 45k is not reasonable. The bible teaches that pastors are worth double honor and if your "programs" and your "bills" are more important than having a pastor that's fine don't get one BUT if you are going to hire a pastor than you need to provide for him. People with my fahters education and experience make three times what he makes. His church grows and grows and he works like a dog and has not been given a raise in 5 years. Its not about the money but to take advantage of a ministry or for them to be a "burden" on the church is craziness.

Josh
May 26, 2010

I hate to brake it to you guys. The reason Joel doesn't draw more from his church is so people will think he is humble when in fact is a millionare from his books.<br>

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