It is sometimes unclear what the compensation target should be, and how much is too little or too much. It might even happen that a church can be forgetful of the changes that need to be made to a minister’s compensation in the years which follow after approving the initial call, as family size grows and health insurance premiums continue to increase.
One of the hardest and most sensitive issues a church can face is how much to pay its minister for his labors. Scripture makes it clear that those who proclaim the gospel should earn their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14), and by extension this means that the church is responsible for supporting its pastor and ensuring he is “free from worldly care and employment,” (see the OPC Form of Government chs. 22 and 23).
For some OP churches, budgets are limited and they are stretched as far as they can be to support the pastor. For other OP churches, it is sometimes unclear what the compensation target should be, and how much is too little or too much. It might even happen that a church can be forgetful of the changes that need to be made to a minister’s compensation in the years which follow after approving the initial call, as family size grows and health insurance premiums continue to increase.
One additional comment before introducing the pastoral compensation tool is to point out the importance of providing adequate benefits in addition to salary. To illustrate, I live in Pella, Iowa where there are two large manufacturers, Pella Windows and Vermeer Manufacturing. An 18 year-old high school graduate will be paid around $17-20 per hour, and if he or she works 50-55 hours per week (which is common), he or she can expect to make around $50,000 or more per year in wages. As a church member, that same employee, along with others at the church, might expect the pastor to make a little more than they do, perhaps in the $70-80,000 per year range. That expectation, however, does not adequately account for the church providing both salary and benefits to their pastor. For instance, in addition to an hourly wage, the factory also provides one half of the contribution to Social Security and Medicare ($3,550 on $50k per year), plus health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, and an employer contribution to their 401(k) program. Realistically the true cost of that factory worker to their company in wages plus benefits could easily reach $80,000 or more. When our church member is asked how much he or she makes, he or she replies ‘about $50,000.’ When he or she sees the pastor’s total package with salary and benefits, they might think ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,’ not realizing that the church as an employer must also provide benefits. Thus, for pastoral compensation, a church needs to consider not just salary but also adequate benefits for a pastor to support his family.