This post will be a tremendous benefit to churches as they put together a compensation package for their next pastor.
Remember, the reason that the Bible encourages churches to take care of their pastors is because it is in their own best interests to do so (“don’t muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain” – – pastors are the beasts of burden that grind the grain for your spiritual bread, 1 Timothy 5:18).
This is the sort of post I can write only because my church doesn’t need to read it. My church pays me well and allows ample vacation time and more study leave than most pastors could dream of. I’m blessed and extremely thankful.
But many pastors are not so fortunate.
The point of my plea is simple. For any elders, deacons, trustees, committee chairs–to anyone with authority over the fringe benefits for your pastor in 2011–please make sure there is enough time for a real vacation and some kind of study leave.
One of the benefits of being ordained in an old mainline denomination is that the stipulations for this kind of stuff are fairly generous. There are minimum pay guidelines for pastors based on years of experience and the size of the church. We also get insurance (though it costs extra to get out of the inferior overpriced denominational plan). Churches must pay into a retirement account for their pastors. Congregations are also strongly encouraged to provide a sabbatical every seven years, plus professional development money and at least a week of study leave. When I started out as an associate pastor in Iowa at the ripe old age of 25 I was given (in memory serves) 4 weeks of vacation and 1 week of study leave (in addition to a short conference here or there). I’m embarrassed to say this is more than most ordained pastors of any age receive regardless of their years of service or the demands of their position.
I understand that some churches can’t pay their pastors as much as they would like to offer. We’ll save that for another post. But here’s the wonderful thing about vacation and study leave–it adds almost nothing to the church budget. At most it may cost an extra thousand dollars to pay for a few more weeks of pulpit supply. But what you’ll gain is worth so much more.
Read the rest here.