Your Voice

EDITOR’S NOTE — October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a time when many churches seek to intentionally show appreciation to their pastors. Studies have shown that one of the most significant factors for a pastor’s well-being is the support he receives from his congregation. This month, TAB will present a series of opinion pieces related to how churches might better support their pastors.

Tips for determining how much your pastor should be paid

A recent study by Lifeway Research produced some helpful information about pastoral compensation in North America.

Among other findings, the study showed pastors are being paid about the same as in 2018 — with few increases in either salary or benefits.

Since the Consumer Price Index has increased 17.6% over the past four years, the purchasing power of pastoral compensation has significantly declined.

The obvious need is for many churches to prioritize increasing pastoral compensation, but that is easier said than done. Churches are facing many financial demands — just like families and businesses — which make these decisions complicated. Choosing among competing needs is always difficult.

Limit financial concerns

This raises another important question that the recent survey did not attempt to answer. How much should a pastor be paid?

Here are two thoughts on answering that question.

Pastors should be paid enough to eliminate financial concerns as a burden distracting them from ministry.

When a pastor is concerned about how to buy groceries, get his car repaired or educate his children, his job performance will suffer. A wise church pays their pastor well enough to live without these distractions.

Every family has to live with some financial stressors but limiting these, as much as reasonably possible, is an investment in pastoral effectiveness and, ultimately, church health.

Pastors also should be paid enough to live comfortably in their community (and that amount varies by community).

Determining how much that requires might seem complicated, but helpful information is available.

One effective method is comparing pastoral compensation to similar compensation offered in your local public school district. Almost all school districts base their compensation structures on plans developed by economists to assure they can attract and retain faculty and staff based on their local economy. They are competing with other communities for employees, and they know what it takes to live in their community: Housing, transportation, food and other costs are factored into the equation.

They know what they have to pay to get the employees they need. While individual salaries are not disclosed, these compensation plans are public information and readily available.

Establishing the baseline

These compensation plans can help establish the baseline — not the upper limit — on reasonable compensation needed to live in a particular community. One way to use this data would be to pay the pastor of a small church comparable to a classroom teacher. The pastor of a larger church, with staff to supervise, could be paid comparable to a principal.

Pastoral salaries in very large churches would be more comparable to a superintendent or other district administrator. When using this data, be sure to include the total compensation, not just the salary, in developing a comprehensive support package for your pastor.

In most communities, there is no comparable salary study for local ministers. But almost every community has this kind of compensation plan, based on a reasonable economic analysis of what it takes to attract and retain education-industry employees.

Many of these employees have the same education level as pastors and share a sense of calling to a helping profession. They are also often in the same age bracket with similar economic challenges.

While there is no perfect public benchmark for pastoral salaries, one good standard is the local education system.

Keep in mind, this is just one benchmark based on your local economy.

Other factors like a pastor’s age, experience, education, church size, church health and financial demands must also be considered. Reasonable annual detailed consideration of these issues must replace “that’s what we paid the last pastor,” “that’s what seems fair to me,” or “that’s more than I make” as the answers to the question of how much to pay your pastor. Base this decision, as you want your employer to do, at least in part on pertinent data for living in your community.

By Jeff Iorg
Gateway Seminary


Letters to the Editor

Thank you for a job well done on our Baptist newspaper. I would especially like to thank Grace Thornton for her “Reflections on the life of Queen Elizabeth II.”

I, too, believe we have lost a world leader that stood upon her faith. May God call other leaders to stand upon God’s word.

Jean Ramsey
Clanton, Ala.

Thank you for Robert Olsen’s commentary each week condensing the Explore the Bible Sunday School lessons.

I teach a senior adult class. The lessons provided in Lifeway’s Explore the Bible curriculum are very good, but they are in-depth and often too much to cover in one Sunday morning class.

Dr. Olsen gives the “meat and potatoes” version of the lessons, and that allows time for comments and discussion.

Thanks again, and may God bless y’all!

Rick Revia
Vidor, Texas


“We are responsible to share the good news. We are not responsible for how someone responds to it. Sometimes the gospel really does seem too good to be true. We are saved by grace and not by our works (Eph. 2:8–9), and for many people that just seems too easy,” said James Jackson, pastor of Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville.

“We want to become a church that looks more like our neighborhood, and we want to become a church that looks more like heaven,” Teman Knight, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Montgomery.

My earthly father, my daddy, was my best friend, my buddy and my commander. Our Heavenly Father wants to be even more if we will only let Him.

Strangely, only when we learn to surrender do we reap the bounty. And He has enough of Him to go around, so we all can have all of Him. That’s what an infinite God can do!

Brice F. Marsh
Trussville, Ala.

“I am living proof that life, no matter the conception, is created in the image of God and is worthy,” said Alabama native Sara Bible, whose birth mother chose life instead of abortion. “I am here because my birth mother said yes to me when I could not speak for myself.”

If we want evangelistic, missionary-minded churches, we must have evangelism and missions in our hearts. Too many are shooting arrows into the air but do not know where they are going. That is, there is no precisely defined and directed goal or purpose. When will churches learn that we are partially responsible for the product?

Morris Murray Jr.
Jasper, Ala.

We have established a community in a time of isolation, hope in a time of desperation and a love for the Lord that surpasses all earthly desires,” said Hannah Sasser, founder of Waiting in Hope of Andalusia, a ministry that assists couples struggling with infertility.

“[Revelation] really is the story of God redeeming His good but broken creation.” Bradley McVay, Beulah Baptist Church, Muscadine, Alabama. 


Heed the yellow signs

Imagine how the color-blind react to road signs. Various colors display different types of information:

  • white: speed limit
  • green: directional
  • blue: roadside services
  • orange: construction
  • brown: recreation.

Give special notice to yellow signs. They tell you to pay attention.

They warn of hazards like curves, intersections, wildlife, etc.

Consider Jeremiah the yellow-sign prophet to God’s people. He issued multiple alerts.

Why the repetition?

Because the people failed to pay attention.

He warned about religious hypocrisy, unfair business practices and dishonesty.

The prophet hammered away in hopes of a change of heart. His yellow signs often resembled this one — “While you were feeling secure, I gave you warning. But you said, ‘I refuse to listen to you.’ That is the way you have acted from your earliest history onward. Indeed, you have never paid attention to me” (Jer. 22:21).

A frustrated yet relentless Jeremiah kept the yellow signs posted even though ignored.

Why? Hope.

Hope for repentance based on trust in a God of grace. The prophet knew God desires to forgive.

Yellow signs from God still come to us through the Scripture, preachers, teachers, friends and circumstances.

Only the sinless may discount God’s yellow signs.

But as good as you may be, you still battle a judgmental spirit, anger, hypocrisy, insensitivity to God. Heed the signs. Grace awaits.

Darryl Wood
“A Personal Word from a Retread Pastor” blog
via Facebook


From the Twitterverse

@ricklance

Controlling our speech is a spiritual discipline. We never have to apologize for something we did not say.

@brocraigc

“The more I see of the glory of Christ — the more the painted beauties of this world wither my eyes.” —John Owen

@bobgoff

Life can be hard. A couple things will go right, and even more will go wrong. Don’t overidentify with your successes or be crippled by your failures. Delight in your role as a flawed participant in need of God’s tremendous grace, and everyone else’s patience, every day.

@ostrachan

Please be extremely encouraged by this, Christian: Just as Jesus kept loving the disciples in all their foolishness, so He keeps loving you and me in all our stumbling.

@cslewisdaily

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” —C.S. Lewis

@haines_matt

A gospel that doesn’t result in a tangible and measurable transformation of our values and affections isn’t the gospel that Jesus preached.

@mhenslee

It’s not as if the pastors of large churches have made it to the “big show,” the major league, while the guys in unknown towns with a handful of people are in the minor league. It’s not second class, and it’s not a step down; it’s just different.

@GaryFenton07

Kindness rejected is never a reason to be unkind.

@claysmith79

I’m not against the word staff, but I prefer team. Staff suggests that everyone has a role to play in the organization. Team suggests that we are in it together.

@DianeLangberg

Using our position in the home or the church to get our own way, serve our own ends, crush others, silence and frighten them is an ungodly use of power.