Remuneration in churches and how to better ministers’ welfare
The issue of pastors’ remunerations could be quite delicate, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. For those that believe such spiritual activity should be strictly voluntary, it might not really be necessary to pay pastors any fixed amount, as they should do it for free and go get their reward in heaven. Others think pastors and other men of God should have another steady source of income, and should, therefore, not depend solely on society and members’ good will. And for the group that feels pastors should be adequately rewarded, pastors should not only be adequately paid, but such remunerations should be worthwhile. So, what do pastors themselves feel about the matter? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘What Pastors Do Is Unquantifiable’
(Archbishop Jacob Akpiri, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bayelsa State/General Overseer, Christian Holy Ghost Bible Church in Bayelsa State)
Noboby can pay a pastor because of the work they do. What they do is so unquantifiable that you cannot compare it to civil service. Pastors put in so much from morning till night and without any rest. There is no Sunday, Saturday or weekend for them, which is why God will take care of us. Pastors are called by God. It is the conviction of God upon a pastor’s life that drives and sustains him, just as the Bible says, “My God will supply all my needs according to the riches in Christ Jesus.” That is what the word of God says, and it never says any man will supply my needs. What we are receiving is more than salary, so no pastor should go about saying, ‘I am being paid a stipend.’ If actually God calls you, He will supply all your daily needs. What I am saying is that it is God’s work you are doing and His work is different from secular work.
Christ never lacked. Tell me, who paid Jesus Christ, when He was on earth? And how much were His disciples paid? But they did so much propagating the gospel of the kingdom. Any way, that doesn’t mean if there is need to pay a pastor well, we will not support that. The idea is good that they should be paid very well. I would have loved to be paid N1m a month. In my church, I think the highest paid pastor receives N20, 000. If you are talking about responsibilities, everybody has one and even your child has a responsibility. In fact, I will tell you categorically that the church that is doing well in this regard is Church of God Mission, where pastors are reasonably paid. Some of the senior pastors are receiving between N200, 000 and N300, 000 monthly. And I also know some churches that are reviewing the salary structure of their pastors. Greater Evangelism is one of them.
I do not believe in qualifications, only in the call of God and anointing in one’s life. If God has called you, the only qualification is that you must be born again. The qualification is that you are a child of God. Other things I might consider is whether you have gone to a recognised Bible school. If you have another degree or so, it is an added advantage. We cannot deny the fact that if a pastor is not paid well, he may dip his hand into the offering/tithe bag. Salary is not a pastor’s calling. Churches can provide cars and accommodation for their pastors. For single pastors, at least one-bedroom flat should be provided, while married pastors should be given two-bedroom flat. The community a pastor is posted can also take care of him. They can give anything, if he is doing well for the people in that community.
‘When A Pastor Is Adequately Remunerated, There Will Be Less Worries’
(The Most Rev. (Dr.) Michael Olusina Fape, Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos/Diocesan Bishop of Remo, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Sagamu, Ogun State)
THE first fundamental issue to be identified is whether or not a pastor should be paid. There is no doubt that the answer is in the affirmative. As long as a pastor falls into the category of workers, he is a labourer, for the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.” (I Timothy 5:18 cf. Deuteronomy 24:14-15). With regard to the payment of pastors, two categories are involved here. First, there are the self-employed pastors, who may be regarded as ‘Pastors and Founders.’ This category owns everything, and they are not accountable to anybody, except God. Therefore, they may not see the need to be placed on salary. However, this may lead to unguarded, reckless and immoral spiritual life. The second category are Pastors, who are employed by a particular Church denomination, and are placed on agreed scale of salary or stipend in accordance with the practice obtainable in that Church.
In the Anglican Church, there is an agreed salary scale for all workers, beginning with a Church Agent, and from Deacon to an Archbishop, which could either be at the Diocesan level or Provincial level. Apart from rising through the ranks, the other qualifications for determining the salary scale are the mode of theological training (whether full time or short time), and the academic qualifications (in this case, only the first degree is reckoned with). Occasionally, even within the same Province, an additional allowance is made for those serving in urban areas to cushion the effect of high cost of living in cosmopolitan towns and cities.
In all of these, it is believed that when a Pastor is well or adequately remunerated, there will be less worries about meeting the basic needs of life, which if not provided for, could tempt a pastor to pilfer the Church funds. Pastors should remember that ours is a calling, and we should avoid the temptation of ostentatious life. We are not to compete with workers in the secular world. Though we patronise the same market, but God has always been the sufficiency of His ministers. It can only be concluded that God wants His labourers to be properly remunerated, and in doing this, there must be justice, fairness and equity in such a way that God’s name is not reproached among non-Christians. Church authorities must not be oppressive, with regards to the apportionment of wages to their workers. In turn, ministers of the Gospel must also avoid covetousness and ostentatious lifestyle, which may tempt them to tamper with the funds of the Church.
‘Let Ministers Be Able To Take Care Of Their Needs’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of the Anointing, Warri, Delta State)
WHEN we received and responded to the call of God in the early 80s, we never thought of remuneration. How times have changed! Indeed, we were not on any salary, but depended solely on living by faith, which meant living on gifts from parishioners. Of course, the church provided accommodation and sometimes means of transportation, which usually was a bicycle or motorcycle and in rare cases a car. We were content and had heaven as our goal. We always said we wanted to go to heaven and take as many people as possible with us. Today, we talk about remuneration and some even appropriate every church income. How criminal! The Lord God told the Levites in very clear terms that He was their portion and as such, they had no inheritance in Israel. Thus, priests and Levites were taken care of from the tithes with regular stipends. Indeed, those who preach the gospel, live by the gospel.
True churches today pay the minister a living wage, taking into cognisance the cost of living, qualification of the minister, his giftings and location. Thus, a minister in Lagos Island should earn more than a minister in Ayetoro. A university graduate should be paid more than a School Certificate holder. Otherwise, the church will not attract and retain the best. The goal usually is for the minister to survive and take care of his needs. But any church that pays less than the national minimum wage is breaking the law. Thankfully, I do not know of any such church. Any minister, who is not converted and therefore a thief will continue to steal, no matter the amount of money he is paid monthly. Churches normally separate the functions of counting, banking and spending church income. This is a safeguard for both the minister and the church. Any church not practising this separation is inviting and condoning temptation. Even new churches must endeavour to practise sound accounting principles.
‘If You Don’t Pay Pastors Well, They Will Cut Corners’
(Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John, Church growth consultant)
AS the topic of discussion rightly noted, there is a lot of stealing going on in churches today, as a result of poor welfare by church authorities. This is one of the major low points of churches, denominational or independent in our nation. Most churches pay stipends to their full time or part time workers and ministers. The international labour organisation categorise the church as second to the lowest in payment to workers in the whole world and our Nigerian churches are living up to that categorisation. When you pay the salaries of monkeys, you have baboon as workers. This is true in most churches of today, though we hate to admit it. Churches must pay its workers very well. The standard payment should be that of the government. It must not be lower than what government pays her workers. Yes, there should be grades and levels, location and ministry production should also be taken into cognisance. Furthermore, there should be emoluments on health, cars, housing and trainings, as much as the church finances will allow. Welfare, retirement and severance package must also be included. This is the scriptural standard and fair play. Churches that cannot pay well should only employ those they can pay well. There is no point employing those you cannot pay and you commit sin before the Lord by not paying and paying well those working for you.
I’m aware of churches that still pay N3, 500 or maximum of N15, 000 to its pastors that have served over 20 years. And those pastors have a lot of dependants and nothing else from the church after those miserable take home. Tell me, why would they not cut corners to make ends meet? This is a very serious issue that every church must look into dispassionately.
By the way, local churches must be allowed to keep 85 percent of their income for their growth, upkeep and expansion. The practice of headquarters collecting 90 or 100 percent of the realisable income of the local branches is clearly unscriptural. The centralisation of financial management of the church will almost and always lead to injustice, complaints, corruption, breakaways and backwardness of the local churches. Good church management demands that local churches must only pay 10 to 15 percent to their headquarters and use 30 to 40 percent of their income to pay salaries and emoluments of their pastors, the rest for the growth and expansion of the local church.
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