Many smaller churches need a new roof, computer, projector, carpet, curriculum, sound system and building repair all at the same time. The problem is that so much of the church’s income goes to trying to afford the pastor’s salary.
Many rural churches cannot afford to give their pastor a raise. Many rural churches don’t even want to talk about it because of how overwhelming and divisive it is. Many small or rural church pastors and churches are constantly thinking about how to keep the spouse of the pastor from having two jobs.
For example, it’s through my wife’s hard work and dedication that we keep many of our monthly costs very low as a family. Our church knows that it’s because of her full-time job of being mom and pastor’s wife, and cooking, preserving, sewing, hemming, coupon collecting, saving and thrift store prowess, that we can actually pull this whole small church gig off.
From a pastor’s perspective, there are some well-known options here:
Become bivocational (or trivocational if you’re like me and count being a father/husband as a job).
Use a credit card.
To help cope, some have created or promoted a theological worldview in which being without money is what Jesus wants from all truly spiritual people.
Have your spouse get a job.
Quit your job as a pastor.
Many rural pastors have stayed up late asking God where funds will come from for school clothes, piano, girl guides, haircuts, car repairs, car repairs, car repairs and more car repairs. “Will I ever own a home or property?” they ask.
Pastors pretend like they don’t want or need golf, gym memberships, ski hills, books, new clothes, vacations, sabbaticals, safe cars or hotels because they are pastors and they love and know their congregation’s budget and would never ask. Just as small church pastors can become consumed by thoughts of material things like a mechanic dreams of tools, their churches dream of chairs, carpet, roofs, projectors, sound equipment, dvd players, flat screens, curriculum, etc.
My thoughts? I think we need to re-examine the way we are approaching our rural and small churches in North America. They have some big obstacles to overcome in order to effectively function.
Here are six simple ways we can change the plight of many small or rural churches everywhere in North America.
1. Affluent churches can help smaller or rural churches with facility needs like church roofs, sound systems, etc.
2. Affluent churches can help smaller or rural churches by offering to provide ministry relief and pulpit filling.
3. Affluent churches can help smaller or rural churches by personally inviting or offering to involve them in the planning of men’s and women’s retreats, youth groups, etc.
4. Affluent churches can help smaller or rural churches by cutting several of their oversea missions to help boost a small local church’s budget.
5. Affluent churches can help smaller or rural churches by helping the pastor with book/library needs, computer and technology costs, etc.
6. Pastors could gain missionary support as if they are missionaries through sites like gofundme.com and the accountability of a church board. There are some huge possibilities here.
What would you add?