May 1, 1991 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade

Question: What Scriptures, if any, indicate how much a man is to he given for his work of preaching? What if the man is not a full time preacher? 

Answer: The following Scriptures deal with the support of gospel preachers: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Gal 6:6; "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only." Phil 4:15; "I robbed other churches taking wages of them to do you service." 2 Cor 11:8. In I Tim 5:18 we have the general principle "the labourer is worthy of his hire" given as proof that workers of the Lord may be paid for their services. It seems to me that these passages present undeniable evidence that those who preach the gospel should "live of the gospel." The question of how much, however, is not answered in terms of dollars and cents. No particular sum is stipulated for preachers' salary in an ongoing work or for his services as a result of a gospel meeting. It would he foolish to assume that the preacher's wage should he any less than is necessary to allow him to live, pay his bills, and provide for his family's welfare both for the present and the future. To try to starve the preacher out will only result in fewer and less effective preachers. A preacher should not have to worry about whether he will he able to meet his obligations at the end of the month. If that is the case, it will be very difficult for him to direct his energies toward the fulfillment of his duties. Instead of asking "how little can we get by with?", we need to ask "what will it take in order for this man to live and do his job?" In determining the preacher's pay certain things should be taken into consideration: i.e. expense for travel, (food, motels, etc.), ownership and upkeep of a car, added expense of clothing, no retirement plan, medical and hospitalization insurance (a major and necessary consideration in today's world), as well as all the other normal expenses present in our current society. As you can easily see it takes a great deal more money to function as a preacher than many realize.

The second part of the question deals with part-time preachers. It would appear that Paul himself was a part-time preacher. (At least at certain times in his life) In Acts 18:3 we learn that he labored with his hands so that he was not chargeable to the brethren. In 2 Cor 11:8 he refused to take money from Corinth in order to keep down criticism. In either of these situations he was certainly no less a preacher. His actions were designed for the good of the cause, and to conclude that because he received part of his support from other sources he ceased to function as a preacher, would he unwarranted. Since the Bible teaches that the labourer is worthy of his hire, it is my belief that a church is responsible to a man for his services whether he is considered full-time or part-time. One should be fully compensated for the job he does, irrespective of what he may receive for doing other work. For example, if I work as a public school teacher and paint houses on the side. Suppose you call me to paint your house. Would you conclude that because I teach school I don't deserve to be paid for painting your house? Or that I should receive less compensation for painting your house than one who paints houses all the time? Certainly not. By the same token, if you call a man to preach who raises cattle on the side, you are obligated to pay him for the job he does, and have no right to withhold or reduce his salary because he deals in cattle at other times. The idea that we can pay certain preachers less than others because of what they do at other times is neither scriptural nor practical. I would encourage all brethren to adequately support all preachers. We have few enough of them as it is. We certainly don't want to force any now preaching to seek secular employment.

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