A while back I was asked by Jeff and Jonny over at 200churches.com (You need to visit their site and sign up for their newsletter.) to come up with a list of the top challenges pastors face. What you’re reading is the third in this series.
Pastors are constantly facing the challenge of
living under financial pressure either personally, corporately, or both.
Typically if the church is doing well financially the pastor is doing well financially. By “well” I mean the pastor is receiving an appropriate salary that his/her family can live on comfortably.) However, if the church is doing poorly, financially, then it will eventually effect the pastor in the form of a reduced salary, benefits, or both.
One pastor recently said, “Dave, I always feel like I’m one bad offering away from not getting a paycheck.” I’ve been there. I know how that feels. Constantly living under this pressure is no fun, it wears you out. Another pastor said something similar, “If we don’t have a good offering this week we won’t be able to pay our church bills.” Again…been there.
One of the advantages the bivo-pastors have is that they usually don’t have to worry about their personal finances as much as the fully-funded pastors. But still, even if you are bivocational your church can be struggling financially and it effects you.
I was recording a podcast for 200churches.com on the topic of ‘Working with a dysfunctional church board.’ The question came up, “What, in your opinion, is the purpose of a church board?” Good question.
I believe the first job of the church board is to take care of the pastor. This means many things, one of which is to make sure the pastor receives a salary enabling their family to live comfortably without the worry of finances. A pastor has enough to worry about. They shouldn’t also have to worry about how they will pay their bills and buy food for their children.
Many church boards try to give their pastor as generous a salary as they can but they only have so much to work with. You can’t give what you don’t have. However, my experience in working with pastors has proven that many times church boards could give the pastor more but choose not to. There are many explanations for this but time will not allow me to comment here.
So if you are among those pastors who are experiencing financial pressure what can you do?
First, and forgive me for shameless self-promotion, you could bring me in (via conference call) to talk to your board and do some training with them. I have 6 training modules for church boards one of which is titled: Spending priorities and the pastor’s pay package. To learn more go here.
Second, you and your spouse need to go into your prayer closet where there is only enough room for you and Jesus. In that crowed place, as the three of you bump into each other, the peace of Christ will rub off on you. It might take a few visits before you’ll begin to feel better. The closet might result in a change in your circumstances (more money available to you) but even if it doesn’t, one thing is certain, the burden, the worry, will begin to weaken it’s grip on your emotions.
Finally, hang in there. You are not alone. Pastors all over this country are experiencing and feeling the same things you are. God has promised to meet your needs. Try to trust Him for that.