A Rural Pastor's Financial Struggle

Plutus cat
Plutus cat
By Yi YangFebruary 2nd, 2022

Yesterday I wanted to talk about the salary of pastors with a female Christian called T for short, who serves in a grassroots church. But she said, “We can’t talk about this topic, or we will be labeled as Balaam.”

In order to serve better, she wanted to study theology, without getting any support. As a result, she had to work in a supermarket to earn money for tuition fees before the school started. Because of this, she was labeled "a person who loves the world". Having a mother and a child to feed, she has been serving as a volunteer in the church for more than 10 years. Later, she received 1,000 yuan per month to cover living expenses, which made the other elderly church staff unhappy.

Their reaction is understandable. Aa the older generation of pastors served the church as volunteers, never receiving a penny from the church. How can the topic of salary be mentioned? Even a small salary is not allowed. Moreover, their retirement from the church where they had enjoyed so much prestige and popularity, was more or less unacceptable.

This also reminds churches to do a good job in the retirement system of pastors, which could not only recognize their service but also give them a certain amount of life support.

“'God will feed you, so just serve Him.' That’s the most comforting words we hear.” T told me without complaining. But I could see that she felt a little sad. In this way, rural churches are in a difficult position. Receiving few offerings, they don’t pay salaries to pastors, so they can't retain theology graduates. They can't attract more believers to the church, resulting in few contributions received. This brings them to a dead end.

So many pastors work in the world while serving, or rely on their spouses for support.

T said there were thirty Theological students in her class, many of whom were serving, but fewer than ten persons received salaries. 

I have learned that such a situation exists in rural churches in Henan, Yunnan, Anhui, Hebei, and other places, where pastors only serve as volunteers. Obviously, the development of churches is hindered. In addition to that, the older generation of pastors may occupy the preaching service, not wanting the new generation of pastors to rise up and serve.

Perhaps this is just the situation in rural churches. Most urban churches have a better payment system for their pastors, facing other challenges.

-Translated by Stephen Huang

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