Minister, what’s your biblical stand on paid Pastors?
In today’s Christian churches Pastors salaries are the highest financial debt (next to the mortgage) the church undergoes. And while Pastors will often argue the Old Testament Levitical priesthood gives evidence of ministry support; to understand what is really lies beneath the surface, an investigation of the structure of the Internal Revenue Service 501 (c) (3) is necessary. Today, most church organizations look to the government to declare them lawful churches. This is done by pastors filing certain documents with the Internal Revenue Service asking for permission to operate as a church body. This is typically done in the early stages of an organization. However, once the state has approved the request to operate as a non-profit organization; a church structure is required by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS requires that the churches form officers and directors. The main offices are President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer known as, the chair of the board of directors and the board of directors. But to the church, they are introduced as Pastors and Assistant Pastors and Deacons. The structure required by the IRS is that of a classic business. For this reason, the office of President is held by the founder, the pastor. Please note that the Internal Revenue Service does not recognize any of the spiritual offices, only those offices given by governmental titles issued by the state. So while on the surface the organization is conducting its self as a church, underneath it is a classic IRS structured business.
Pastors under the IRS status have taken on the same identity as heads or founders of any ordinary company. Take a short glance at Google’s Board of Directors; notice how closely related their structure is to that of the modern church. Larry Page is the CEO, Sergey Brin, is Cofounder and Eric E. Schmidt, Executive Chairman. Therefore, pastors under the IRS status will operate in the same capacity as the CEO of Google, Microsoft, or Apple. On the other hand, a CEO of a company like Microsoft is able to receive a salary as the founder of the business for profit. However, because the IRS 501 (c) (3) status is set for non-profit business, members (including pastors) aren’t allowed to receive funds. The organization must first file the proper documentation with the state to obtain its employer status; this status gives the church the right to pay those it employs. So IRS pastors are employees of the church they’ve created under the IRS status. That’s right; IRS pastors are employees of churches they created. The average church member is completely unaware of the IRS organizations and assumes to be a part of the church of God. But in truth, underneath it‘s an organization created by the pastor.
So what does this have to do with pastors being paid for their services? In truth, there is biblical evidence of ministerial support. In the recording of the Old Testament, eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel were responsible for supporting the services of the Levites. The LORD instructed Aaron, “You are not to have any inheritance in the land, nor are you to have any portion of the people. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelis”. “I’ve given to the descendants of Levi the tithes that the Israelis bring to the LORD an offering. Therefore, I told them that, unlike the Israelis, they won’t receive an inheritance.” Aaron and his sons would receive tithes from the other tribes as a means of sustaining the worship services. These tithes consisted of foods like fruit, corn, honey, wine, oil, herds, and flocks. Occasionally, some Israelis would have to travel long distances to give their tithes. In those cases, the food would be turned into money as a means to make travel easier; but later turned back into tithe. At any rate, the purpose of tithing was to take care of the Levites. This indicates that the ministry would equally share the tithes. This is surely not the case with modern day pastors. In today’s churches, (especially those governed by the IRS) the pastor’s salary is a top priority. He (and sometimes she) gets complete support. Their homes, gas, food (including dining out), travel, entertainment and many other prompts are covered under ministerial support. But many of these prompts aren’t extended to the other branches of the ministry. This is completely unfair and unscriptural and makes those operating in this judgment partial. In agreeing, the whole ministry should be supported as it was in the days of the Levitical priesthood. The conflict, however, is those IRS status churches are created by man and means to operate as classic businesses; with the pastor being the head. This is why pastors salaries will remain the highest financial debt the church will endure. And why not? Those churches were “founded by them” and the people within the structure are screened by the idea of supporting their ministry. However, the pastor is not the ministry alone. And if this is true, why does he get the most aid?
The ministry of the church of Christ consists of all the branches of gifts given to the church for the perfecting of the saints: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers. Let there be no doubt, I believe in ministerial support. Even more, I believe the whole church should support one another. Thus, this article is not against the ministerial support. But I disagree with pastors governing churches as classic businesses and getting paid for it. Pastors shouldn’t be the highest financial debt the church undergoes. In the Old Testament, tithes consisted of foods like fruit, corn, honey, wine, oil, herds, and flocks. In this, it would appear that the church is responsible to the ministry for the very necessities. There are many other things I could highlight about IRS churches. But the subject at hand is about pastors getting paid. And while I am not against the idea of support, the church really needs to see how IRS churches are mixing classic businesses with Church businesses. The church can only have one founder, and that is God.