Greedy Pastors, Funny Jokes, & the ARP Payscale

That's a picture of Austen's sycophantic Mr. Collins to the right. Good preacher jokes are always funny, since they reveal a kernel of truth about ministry. The following was sent to me by two folks this week, so I guess it's making the "fwd:" rounds.
Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, 'My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.' 
The second boy says, 'That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.' 
The third boy says, 'I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!'
The Greedy Pastor.
Pastors and money can be bad company. I spoke with one minister who told me he published his church's tithe/offering records each week. He bragged about how giving in his church had gone up! But at what cost, I wondered? I saw him a year or so later, and he had moved in to secular work. "More money," he explained.

The stereotype of the greedy pastor is well-recognized. Why? Because there are plenty of folks who use God's pulpit to fill their pocketbooks. Elmer Gantry is a fictional pastor who sadly typifies too many in our calling.

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Pay.
One thing I like about the ARP is that it sets standards for pastoral pay. They've set a minimum payscale for full-time clergy, and provide a percentage increase each year to account for inflation. Some pastors make the minimum; some make more. The community makes a big impact--city living costs more while the country can cost less.

I'm not angling for a raise or trying to rise up to the cooperate ladder. Indeed, my current pay is very similar as a "Senior" Pastor as it was when I was an Associate. When I'm finished with my Doctorate, it will likely still be about the same. When the Church takes money out of the picture, pastors are free to serve to the best of their abilities wherever the Lord has put them-- there's no need to angle for a bigger, "better" church.

Naturally, there is a downside to this type of pay-scale. Some pastors lack ambition, since there is no monetary incentive for extra hours or projects. I suppose this says more about the pastor than the pay-scale, though. Also, churches that can't afford the minimum pay have to make alternate arrangements to provide for pastoral care--typically a bi-vocational pastor or a "yolked" pastorate wherein a pastor will serve more than one church.

By in large though, I think a pastor should be free to think more about his congregation than his bank account. If his spouse works, it should be by choice and not necessity. I'm thankful to have reliable transportation, a safe home, fresh Dockers on occasion, and lunch at Chick-Fil-A on Saturdays. God provides a lot that is not in the form of a paycheck.

Oh, and our church collects the offering before the sermon!

EDIT: May, 29, 2012-- A pastor in Florida Presbytery has alerted me that the standards for pastoral pay are unique to certain presbyteries and not denomination-wide. For example, Catawba Presbytery has these standards while Florida Presbytery does not. 


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