SOME PREACHERS QUIT BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PAID A DECENT WAGE.
They cannot take care of their family on what the church gives them. Paul wrote in defense of a preacher's right to be paid and the church's obligation to pay him. Would we send soldiers out to do battle with our enemies at their own expense? Should they have to pay their way to fight for this country? What would you think if you were allowed to grow a garden, but you could not eat of the produce? Suppose you raised cattle, would it wrong for you to enjoy the milk from them? Paul uses these arguments and then writes - "For it is written in the law of Moses, 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.' Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope" (I Cor. 9:9,10). If a man is a good, sound preacher, the church is wise to pay him a decent salary. What the church is able to pay, what work the preacher does, his family circumstances--all have to be taken into consideration.
Some churches will support mission works well, but not give their local preacher a decent salary. However, if the home congregation dies, the funds for the mission works will die also. Charity begins at home! Support the local work and the gospel will resonate out into the community and the world. Some preachers have had to take on secular work to compensate for their lack of support from the home congregation. I do not know of any gospel preacher who is getting rich preaching. I do not know of any preacher who preaches for money, but I do know some that need to be better supported by local congregations.
In the Old Testament, God made provisions for the priests and the Levites. They were not to be forsaken (cf. Deut. 12:17-19; 14:27-29). There is no clergy-laity system in the Lord's church, but churches could learn a thing or two by studying how Israel was to provide for those in the service of the Lord. In principle, it can be said in harmony with the Scripture, that the preacher within your congregation should not be forsaken.
Some elders in the Lord's church base a young preacher's salary on what they made twenty or thirty years ago, without the benefits! When they began in secular work, their annual earnings might have been $12000, which did not include their benefits of health insurance, retirement, etc, that they received. I know of an old preacher who said, "No preacher is worthy of $50000 a year." Of course, for most of his preaching career he did secular work and he lived through the depression years! I suppose preachers could make it on ten to twelve thousand dollars a year if we could all go back to the same prices for groceries, gasoline, house payments, and doctor bills that individuals paid in the forties, fifties, sixties, or seventies. A good preacher is worth his pay. You show me a congregation that supports their preacher well, and I will show you a congregation that appreciates the truth and the one preaching the truth. Brethren who pray: "Lord, you keep our preacher humble, and we will keep him poor," are going to be changing preachers regularly.
A young preacher just starting out should receive a salary with benefits comparable to what a first year teacher in a local public school receives. The gospel is the greatest work in all the world; so, why is a preacher paid a mere pittance of what he should receive? I heard of a preacher (could have been J.D. Tant) who did some work for a church, but they could not pay him. Years went by and the preacher had not received his pay. So, he wrote them and forgave the debt because he said he did not want to chase them all over hell to get it. Let's not rob the Lord, neither the Lord's preacher.
If a preacher is unable to provide for his family based on what the local congregation provides, he has three choices: (1) He can quit preaching and seek full-time secular employment, (2) He can keep preaching and seek part-time secular employment to supplement his income, or (3) He can seek out a different congregation that is able to pay him sufficiently and continue preaching for the Lord. For one who truly has a fire in his bones (cf. Jer. 20:9), the first option is not really an option at all. Preacher, don't let money cause you to quit preaching!
We will continue this series in our next lesson.