With each passing day, another pastor (usually a mega-church pastor) gets vilified in the media. Most of the time, it’s because the pastor in question is being ridiculed for showing signs of having too much wealth. Since wealth is often misconstrued for salary, the smoking gun almost always points back to pastors making too high of a salary. This negative sentiment rings true on a national stage and eventually makes its way down to the local level. The hater-ation runs deep.
Unfortunately, this mud-slinging is unwarranted because pastors in general are not hoodwinking the public or robbing from the poor. In fact, for the amount of talent and skill pastors have, they are living pretty meagerly and sometimes near the poverty line. But let’s not take my word for it, let’s look at the research.
According to the Barna Group, 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance while only 2% of protestant churches have more than 1000 adults in attendance. In addition, according to Leadership Network’s 2014 Large Church Salary Report, per capita giving goes down as church size goes up. I will get more into that later.
Within this same Leadership Network report, it is measured that for mega-churches (churches with attendances from 1,000 to over 30,000), senior pastor salaries tend to represent only 3.4% of a total church budget. For example, if a church’s total budget is $2 million, then the senior pastor makes $68,000. That salary may seem pedestrian at first, but when you consider that the average pastor works 50 hours per week and 35% of pastors work more than 60 hours per week, that salary is paltry. In fact, many pastors regularly sell items on eBay and Craigslist to make ends meet.
Let’s go back to congregational giving though. Remember how the media likes to paint a picture that poor people are being robbed to prop up silver-spooned pastors? Well, that’s a load of hogwash. Look at these figures on giving:
- American Christians give 1.5 – 3.1% to their church and other charitable organizations. That number has dropped more than a percentage point in the past 10 years.
- 4 out of 10 church attendees give nothing to their local church.
- Only 1 out of 10 regular church attendees give a consistent percentage of their income to their local church.
- Currently only 4% of church-attending Christians tithe (give 10% of their income) to local church.
In summary of those statistics, we can’t get robbed if we are essentially keeping all of our income. So let’s stop perpetrating this robbery myth. That’s just a smoke-screen to cover up the fact that many of us feel bad for not giving a cheerful amount.
Why can’t we give a cheerful amount? Mostly because we don’t read our Bibles very often. Even a brief analysis of scripture would show us that financial matters are spelled out pretty bluntly. If we adhere to scripture, we will financially be better off.
Pastors know this. They read their Bibles daily like it is recommended. Supernaturally and practically, pastors gain wealth even if they have horrible salaries because they live below their means and then some. And in doing so, they can financially help all of the haters who think pastors are their enemies.
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