Too many expenses and too little money. It's a subject that rivals the weather as a topic of conversation nowadays. And the local church is not immune to economic fluctuations. Pastors have to feed their families. Churches have to heat their buildings, pay the rent, maintain programsand pay the pastor. Money problems go hand in hand with almost any ministry.
Lyle Schaller probes some of these problems in his writing and in his work as a church consultant for Yokefellow Institute. His research indicates that in many ways churches could improve the way they handle their budgets and make everyday financial decisions. In LEADERSHIP's interview, Lyle identifies financial problems most churches face, and he offers some suggestions that merit close scrutiny.
In talking to pastors in your conferences with Yokefellow Institute, how often is the question of pastors' salaries raised?
Quite often. Salaries are a serious question today. If you go back to the middle fifties, the typical beginning salary for a pastor was roughly the same as an elementary school teacher's around $3,600. But pastors haven't kept up over the years, and the discrepancy lies in the areas of experience and tenure. An elementary school teacher today gets more for experience than most pastors. Typically, churches pay about $300 a year, or less, for experience. In other words, twenty years of pastoral experience is worth somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000 in the pastorate. It's very difficult to find anywhere else in our society where experience is given a lower premium.
What do you feel that does for the pastoral profession?
It has three major effects. First, it's a significant factor in promoting the exodus of experienced ministers from pastoral ministry. Fewer and ...