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5 Reasons Your Pastor Will Not Ask for a Raise

My recent blogpost on pastors’ salaries drew a lot of attention. There are indeed some heated emotions on both sides of the issue. Much of the concern expressed about the pay of ministers seems to focus on those cases of real indulgence and abuse. But it’s those cases that get the most attention and, sadly, hurt the vast majority of ministers who are faithful stewards of God’s money.

The Real Numbers.

Look for a moment at these numbers. Let’s assume there are 500 cases of financial abuse and indulgence among ministers taking place today. I’m not convinced the number is that high, but we will use it as a starting point.

There are approximately 1.2 million paid staff members in Protestant churches. That means there are four cases of financial abuse for every 10,000 ministers. To state it positively, there are 9,996 ministers of every 10,000 who are either paid adequately or below their needs.

The Survey Says.

My son, Art Rainer, recently completed a book (to be released in June 2013) on ministers’ salaries and other financial issues. An informal survey of over 100 pastors provided some of the data for one chapter of the book. In that survey, over 80 percent of the pastors indicated they were financially struggling. About the same number said they needed a raise.

But 100 percent responded that they had never asked for a raise. All of them said that. There were no exceptions.

Why Won’t Pastors Speak Up?

So why are pastors so reticent to express a real need that they have? And why is the apprehension almost universal among all ministers? Essentially, we found five answers to these questions.

First, the ministers are aware that a few bad examples in ministry have poisoned perceptions for many.

The abuses have garnered much attention. Many ministers think that they will be associated with the small minority if they say a word.

Second, many ministers view money as an “earthly” issue.

Their role is to focus on spiritual matters. They are to keep quiet when any discussion of their pay takes place. They certainly are not to ask for anything financially.

Third, there are always critics in the church looking for any issue to go after the pastor or other staff ministers.

If ministers broach the subject of a pay increase, they give critics ammunition to attack the minister verbally and in writing. Ministers are keenly aware of such a risk.

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.