Generous congregations and hard working ministers
Over the past few weeks I've been asked on three occasions about ministers and contracts and pay rates. It is a tricky subject and in each situation it was fraught with tension and frustration on both sides. There will be some that claim that a centralised system for paying salaries and a denomination setting limits is the answer. I think this is basically madness and nearly every minister I've met who is paid centrally wouldn't recommend it. The days of centralised salaries are gone and I would want to argue that it categorically doesn't work. Of course there will be the usual argument of the weak supporting the strong but very often that ends up being the totally unsustainable sucking the not very strong dry.
So I suppose my advice falls into two categories. First, to congregations and deacons' boards: be generous, go the extra mile, stretch yourselves as a congregation to pay your ministers and staff. If there's a call to make, err on the side of generosity. Put in place salary reviews where an elder and deacon will sit down every 3 years with the minister and discuss these matters. Be as clear as you can about how many Sundays holiday per year, how many Sundays are allowed to preach in other churches. The whole issue of holidays is complex. Nearly all ministers I know work 6 days a week and so I think it's fair that there are weeks when they take more than 2 days off a week. This shouldn't be counted as holiday. It is wise if you are doing this to tell your elders. Things such as book allowances, conferences , study leave and sabbaticals are good investments for the long term in your minister and church staff but again be clear on what is allowable. Try to think of ways you can show you appreciate your minister practically.
My advice to ministers is work your socks off, don't moan, never, ever complain in your sermons about not having much money. Personally I think if you earn money from speaking out, that should go back to your own congregation. The main point would be this, don't avail yourself of everything the church offers. You could claim for absolutely everything but don't, for the sake of how you're viewed by the deacons and elders. Resentment kills love and you want the congregation to be saying we should be giving more, not this guy takes too much. If we want the congregation to be generous we must model that ourselves.
So in summary I think it's pretty simple. Generous congregations, hard working ministers.
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