I have wanted to write this for several years! I write it from the context of 50 years in the ministry: 4 churches, 2 camps. I write this from the context of having no significant financial need at this time in my life
Ministerial compensation can be a sticky subject! I know this very well. Nevertheless….
When a church asks a minister to come and “supply preach”, they are asking a minister to come for about $6.50 an hour: $125 for about 20 hours of involvement. Time is required to arrange for the service, learn the format of the service, choose a sermon topic appropriate for the congregation and the season of the year, prepare the sermon, select Scripture passages and hymns, perhaps write out prayers and plan a children’s sermon. Arrival time needs to be about an hour before the service – and departure time is generally 30 to 45 minutes after the service. And then there is transportation time.
Interestingly the number of people in the worship service seldom has any impact upon the compensation given, and no attention is given to the fact that the minister may be a ministerial student, or a retired minister living on a very tight budget. It would be wonderful if congregations took the opportunity to say thank you for coming and leading us in worship – in a significant way. Is this necessary? No. Many ministers are thankful for the opportunity to preach God’s Word.
Funerals? No matter how much time is involved, my experience is that the funeral director gives the minister $100. This was my “thank you” for having visited a widow at least 100 times. Every time her son, living in another state, perceived that his mother was in need, I received a telephone call and then drove the 10 minutes to her home. The visits were never quick. The fact that the woman had 24 hour care was deemed insufficient. “Chuck would you please go over and check on what is happening with mom?” I was the woman’s friend, not the woman’s pastor. When she died, I was asked to do the funeral and the service of committal at the cemetery. $100.
Every funeral takes time. Often lots of time. Some are very difficult!!!
Weddings? This one is touchy for me to write about, but let me simply say that when a minister has two or three counseling sessions of two hours each, plus time to prepare what he will say, plus a rehearsal, plus a block of time for the wedding – remember this in context of the wedding budget. What may help the couple more? The time preparing for marriage with the minister, or the work of the photographer?
To close, a fun story. I was the minister for a DL wedding with a bare bones budget. A family member took the pictures, and the women of the small church “catered” the reception. It was a really fun experience for all of us. And my thank you? A gift certificate for Cabela’s. I think of the joy of that evening every time I put on my Cabela life jacket! The Deerfooter husband and I talk by phone regularly. He and his wife have an 18 month old son, and they just bought their first home.
“The worker deserves his wages.” Luke 10:7