When Full-Time Pastors Encounter Financial Dilemma, Will It Affect Their Ministries?

A man sits under a cross.
A man sits under a cross. (photo: unsplash.com)
By Mu FengMay 12th, 2021

The financial dilemma of pastors has been an issue worthy of debate as many churches fail to supply their full-time pastors with enough money. When there is a financial problem, a pastor may continue to serve the church with stress, choose to work part-time, or leave his or her ministry. Little do full-time church workers talk about personal incomes as the topic seems ungodly.

Familiar examples from the Bible urge pastors to live by faith solely, such as Elijah fed by ravens that brought him bread and meat, the miracle of the widow at Zarephath who lived on a handful of flour and a little oil, and the miracle of five loaves and two fish. Those stories are often used to encourage pastors to have faith in their life difficulties.

However, what I would like to point out is that we are in a different world from Elijah, that is to say, our environment determines how we live. We must learn from Elijah’s faith, but our love grows cold when we conceal pastors’ poverty using those spiritual slogans.

There are still pastors who are financially lacking and even those who are not allowed to suggest to their churches to “cover their living expenses every month.” Some church administrative teams decide the payment details, thus pastors just need to obey those decisions with gratitude.

I know some pastors who are committed and talented in pastoral care. Obeying their churches, they served for three years despite little salaries, but they eventually left their ministries. Never saying that the payment was not sufficient, they claimed that they worked outside the church to be the light in society and serving in the workplace was also loving God.

After giving birth to a daughter and purchasing an apartment, a couple of full-time pastors were having a mortgage. While the wife continued her pastoral ministry, the husband left to earn money. He plans to return to the church in 2022.

Full-time pastors face many challenges in this era. As persons, they desire to create a more comfortable life for their families and enroll their children in better kindergartens.

Although we have spiritual experiences, we have human comparison and desires. For example, if a worker is paid 5,000 yuan a month and a full-time pastor gets a monthly salary of 500 to 1000, the wide gap is unacceptable to some people.

Church leaders should pay attention to the needs of workers and distribute funds to them so that there is little financial pressure.

I also exhort myself and those workers who move ahead in ministries: good preparations should be made for full-time ministries and be ready to pay a price because it is not easy to serve God.

- Translated by Karen Luo

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