An unfortunate result of a pastor being underpaid is that it ultimately hurts not just the minister but the congregation as well.
A pastor who is not adequately compensated is not a happy minister. He is most likely harassed and disillusioned, even to the point of questioning his calling.
His attention, time and emotion will be split between trying to make ends meet for his family and fulfilling his ministry. If this goes unchecked, the result is that the church will be underserved, or worse, it will soon be left without a pastor as the minister has to seek better compensation elsewhere.
Rev. Erik Parker, in his article 5 Reasons Why Underpaying Pastors is Poor Stewardship for Congregations stresses that underpaying pastors is poor stewardship.
“When congregations deliberately underpay their pastors, it isn’t about saving money or stretching declining resources. It is about the value that congregations place on pastoral ministry. It is about the value that congregations place on their own work and following God’s mission.”
He adds that
“finding a way to pay a pastor less is the first step in choosing to kill a church. On the other hand, an adequately compensated pastor recognizes that ministry costs time, resources and money. It recognizes that God’s mission in the world is worth our time, our resources and our money.”
This would be the perfect time to conduct an independent salary review and assessment to ensure that the “altar pay” is indeed reasonable and adequate.
Another area that the church leadership must look into is whether the spouse or children of the pastor who are also working in the ministry are compensated adequately. Getting more than just one paycheck in the family will significantly improve their finances.
If he still feels he needs a raise, the pastor should then open up to his “church family” and give them a chance to understand and improve his situation. Bearing the burden alone until he gets to the breaking point will only negatively impact his relationship with the church, often necessitating his leaving it altogether.
But if the church is truly incapable of fully-funding the minister, there are ways by which the members can help alleviate his burden and compensate him in non-monetary means.
Some churches help their pastor by giving him produce from their gardens; some help him with auto repairs or mechanical work. Still others help by taking turns paying some of their utilities or helping them defray the cost of health insurance.
They may also consider allowing him to become bi-vocational. By giving him a ministry schedule that will enable him to figure in some part-time outside work, the pastor will be better able to support his family.
We also can’t discount the importance of a church praying for their pastor’s financial provisions. As he quotes in his sermons, the Lord is unlikely to leave unanswered the petitions those who are gathered in his name.
If all else fails, it would be good to remember that the greatest reward is yet to come for those who humbly and faithfully serve the Lord.
Paul, in his final days said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8)