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Nicholas Reicher

Seminary Cost & Pastor's Salary

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In case you're wondering, the cost of seminary to become a pastor is $45,000.

For a full time job that often pays  $33,000 a year.

So your pastor is often paying $100 a month in student loans.

But with the crazy interest rates for loans, often a pastor will pay $122 a month in student loan finances charges plus the $100.

That means many pastors are living at around $900 a month.

The Bible says let he who is taught the word communicate (pay) him who teaches (Gal. 6:6, 1 Cor. 9:11-14) - they should make roughly a middle class income, so they can keep their work and focus on the teaching of the word.

The Bible also says that a pastor who rules well is worthy of double pay  (1 Tim. 5:17). So, pastors should be making roughly $55,000 to $75,000 per year, and if they're good at it, should be paid twice what the regular pastors are paid - $110,000 to $150,000.

It's in the Bible.

Most people in a congregation today make more than their pastor. Elder boards and deacon boards may find at the believer's judgment they may have some explaining to do.

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Do not bind the mouths that tread the grain!

 

A pastor shouldn't have to side hustle to live.

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Is base pay before housing and benefits? Because I don't think our pastors make enough either, but they (associate and main) pastor are both in the mid $40 based pay. But they also get housing and benefits, so the average is in $80,000 range.

 

(Still not enough. Pastor has eight kids. Associate Pastor only has four.)

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The base pay statistics I've looked at don't discuss housing and benefits, so I don't know. I just know I've looked at what churches with open pulpits are offering, and it's not enough to make most people leave day jobs for.

The average seminary graduate is now having to choose between providing for families, and fulfilling God's call. It's worse in the Independent Fundamental Baptist realm - there base pay is $21,000.

 

This means if I ever get an offer, I'l have to make sure before I accept that I've bought everything I want for Logos Bible software, and that I've purchased Scrivener 3.0. I won't be able to afford anything for either ever again.

 

More churches are requiring pastors to be bi-vocational - work a day job, and then the church pays you an honorarium. One question pulpit committees are asking now is, "How much does your wife make?" That total is usually subtracted from the offer made to the Pastor.

 

Apparently, the way to go is the Southern Baptist Convention - I'm seeing pay at $65,000 which is really good - but the way they run their data includes book allowance (which must be spent monthly on books and is a use it or lose it proposition) and housing allowance. So $65,000 

 

I just want to avoid Southern Baptist, because I don't want to have to answer questions from the Lord why I violated Romans 16:17 and associated with unbelievers (Southern Baptist Convention does not police pastoral accountability or adherence to statement of faith).

 

Since my understanding of soteriology has changed since I did the Bible factoid on the Sovereignty of God, I couldn't sign the statement of faith for the SBC anyway, since it isn't Biblical. I'd have to give them a copy of the 1689 confession and sign that.

 

https://thomrainer.com/2015/04/setting-a-fair-pastoral-salary-rainer-on-leadership-116/

https://thomrainer.com/2019/05/should-a-church-show-individual-pastor-and-staff-salaries-in-the-budget/

 

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32 minutes ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

More churches are requiring pastors to be bi-vocational - work a day job, and then the church pays you an honorarium.

 

Agreed. Paul spent time as a 'tent-maker', but admitted (in 1 For 9), that it wasn't the ideal. I spent ten years as a bivocational pastor in a small church in a small town. The long term problem is congregations get used to it, and want to keep things the way they are. After all, when you don't have to pay a full salary, that leaves revenue for other things.

 

That said, here in California the cost of living is so high, churches with less than 100 givers cannot afford a building and a pastor. 

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22 hours ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

In case you're wondering, the cost of seminary to become a pastor is $45,000.

For a full time job that often pays  $33,000 a year.

So your pastor is often paying $100 a month in student loans.

But with the crazy interest rates for loans, often a pastor will pay $122 a month in student loan finances charges plus the $100.

 

As a finance professional (who actually works at a church), please be careful here. There are numerous variables when it comes to seminary costs. Many students receive financial aide at varying degrees (and methods), so actual student loan payments can be all over the map.

 

22 hours ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

Most people in a congregation today make more than their pastor. Elder boards and deacon boards may find at the believer's judgment they may have some explaining to do.

 

Before we all light the torches and grab pitchforks, I urge you to first understand how your church determines a pastor's salary. You'd be surprised how many church members have no idea. I'm very much for paying a pastor a fair income, and there are so many different factors that come into play.

 

Obviously base salary can vary between regions. A $55,000 salary in Boston is very different than in say Detroit.  There's also housing allowances that supplement salaries, and they are additionally subject to special tax breaks exclusivity for pastors. In addition, many pastors are offered expense accounts to offset books, Logos subscriptions, etc. Then there are car and healthcare allowances.

 

So if a $55,000 pastor salary bothers you, first come to an understanding of all the benefits that are included (which are often above and beyond the base salary). You might be pleasantly surprised over all the clever ways that the church deacons, elders, treasurers, etc. have found to compensate their pastors. If they haven't, then perhaps it's an issue that you need to raise with your church leadership.

Edited by Accord64
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23 hours ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

"How much does your wife make?"

Proper response to this question:

Pastor: 95%.

Asker: 95%?

Pastor: Yes. 95%. She makes me happy 95% of the time. I could exaggerate and say, "100%." But, sometimes we get on each other's nerves, so 95%.

Asker: I was asking how much she makes in salary.

Pastor: I know, however that is none of your business. You're interviewing me. Now, if you want to interview her, that's between you and her. She was crazy enough to marry a pastor, but I don't think she's crazy enough to want to be your pastor.

 

(Do you think that would work?)

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25 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

Asker: I was asking how much she makes in salary.

Pastor: I know, however that is none of your business. You're interviewing me. Now, if you want to interview her, that's between you and her. She was crazy enough to marry a pastor, but I don't think she's crazy enough to want to be your pastor.

Both hilarious and appropriate (for the Pastor, that is).

 

 

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Let me clarify why I put this up. And then I'll address the misunderstandings.

Pastors get paid nowhere near what most people think

My thoughts were based upon looking at a copy of "Seminary Guide" which landed in my mailbox, with my name on it. Unannounced. So I looked at how a paid seminary (verses the free one I use) charges.

 

$45,000 for an 18 month program.

 

And of course, if you can't pay that off by the term of the loan, the interest explosions kick in. I've read enough horror stories about physicians who work just to pay off student loans.

 

Congregants and "elders" often have no idea the financial hardships most pastors have to go through JUST to be a pastor. Many have to go to regular college first, because MOST seminaries do not offer accredited degrees. So, you pay whatever it costs you to get your bachelor's degree.

 

Then you pay for seminary.

 

Most pastors are married, and raising a family WHILE they're in seminary - because a 55 year old pastor finds it difficult to get  a job in many churches.

 

So, you're heavily in debt when you start answering the "open pulpit" notices.

 

Pulpit committees sometimes naively rule out ANY applicant with any debt. Never mind that your spouse went through cancer chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment you're still paying for 7 years later. Or that (in the case of the young pastor I was talking about) is $60,000 in debt from trying to get all the credentials you insist on.

 

Here's the major point, and why I put this up - I've seen enough comments from men who are desperate to get in there and pastor. Care for a flock. Preach expository sermons, and even revitalize dying churches.

 

And they have taken on so much debt to do it - or are counting the costs of doing so - that they look at simple math - "I need this much to live on" - and churches offer half that.

 

You can offer a lot of perks in your package, but it doesn't change the fact that many pastor-to-be's will accrue a great amount of debt to become a pastor, and the church barely pays you enough to live - without paying enough money to eliminate the debt.

 

I have a copy of a pulpit committee's questions for the applicant - question 4 is "do you have any debt?" That's a strike out question - answer "Yes" and you don't get the job.

 

Churches are still offering the same salaries - with better packages, I'll admit - that they did in the '80's.

 

I didn't write this to get people to storm churches, I wrote it so that people can see things from their pastor's perspectives - and to explain why we've reached a critical point of pastoral candidates who are looking at what churches are offering and the biggest agony is saying "I can't afford to do what I'm called to do."

 

people naively say things like "a pastor shouldn't worry about how much they're paid" or "If you're setting a salary in mind, perhaps you need to question why you're doing this".

 

check out the red print on this web site.

 

I gave up any thought of being called to pastor after reading that. It's the biggest ache in my heart to write sermons no-one will hear. I pastored a church for six months (and the church never paid me) and it was wonderful. Until I read the print on that web site.

 

No kidding, most men called to pastor are counting the costs, and turning away from the ministry.

 

I'm just asking churches to look at - what would it cost for most of you to get a master's degree in a university - then pay $45,000 for seminary after that?

Would you take a job as a pastor for $33,000 after that? or in my case as an IFB pastor, work for $21,000?

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sorry. I just got horribly sad after reading the details about how much it would cost me to get a seminary education, and what the prospects were of ever being able to pay that off - let alone being able to ever afford a Lionel train set ever in my lifetime if a church ever calls me.

If I ever got an offer, I doubt I could afford to take it.

and that's an anguish in my heart I cannot describe.

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Churches, and many Christian individuals, have long thought the pastor should suck it up. He should suffer for his calling. Well, most do, unfortunately. But most should be paid so much more than they are. The small churches usually have no option for a bigger salary.

 

So, Nicholas, if you believe the Lord has put that burning in your heart, you need to go after His purpose. The alternative is even grimmer. Being out the Lord's will is torture. If God calls, He provides a way. 🧡

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On 11/9/2019 at 3:32 PM, Nicholas Reicher said:

sorry. I just got horribly sad after reading the details about how much it would cost me to get a seminary education, and what the prospects were of ever being able to pay that off - let alone being able to ever afford a Lionel train set ever in my lifetime if a church ever calls me.

If I ever got an offer, I doubt I could afford to take it.

and that's an anguish in my heart I cannot describe.

Nicholas, be encouraged! My dad and husband are both pastors. I have seen the bountiful provision of the Lord hundreds and hundreds of times in my life. If he calls you, don't ever hesitate. Go. He will provide. 

Think, too, of the many faithful pastors who have little or no seminary training. God doesn't need you to have a seminary degree to use you. Study the Word on your own. 

 

PS. We're fellow 1689ers! 

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On 11/9/2019 at 3:32 PM, Nicholas Reicher said:

sorry. I just got horribly sad after reading the details about how much it would cost me to get a seminary education, and what the prospects were of ever being able to pay that off - let alone being able to ever afford a Lionel train set ever in my lifetime if a church ever calls me.

If I ever got an offer, I doubt I could afford to take it.

and that's an anguish in my heart I cannot describe.

What I got out of that website was IFB doesn't value their pastors. In which case, I don't value the IFB.

 

There are other denominations. And, yeah conservative, Bible-believing, Lord-depending denominations.

 

(As for Lionel trains? Try Freecycle.net.)

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20 hours ago, Kyoung said:

Think, too, of the many faithful pastors who have little or no seminary training. God doesn't need you to have a seminary degree to use you. Study the Word on your own. 

I appreciate it, but the vast majority of open pulpit ads read "Pastor wanted. Must have doctorate from accredited institution."

 

My seminary education is unaccredited. So to get one of these $33,000 a year jobs I'd have to spend $45,000, which I don't have and can never afford.

 

So unless I plant a church, it's not happening. That's the heartbreak. Incidentally, the church I co-pastored chose the associate pastor with the accredited degree instead of me for full time pastor when the senior pastor retired. The associate pastor ran the church into the ground within six months, and almost all of the congregation left.

 

However, you are required to have proved you are ready to preach. The Bible requires us to study to shew thyself approved. And what free classes I've audited from some major institution shows me the peril of not studying in depth.

 

Listening to the teachings of many, many pastors I'm shocked how few have truly studied to shew themselves approved. It's why we've got so many bad teachings out there that sincere Christians believe, but that's a subject for a sermon I'll never deliver.

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4 hours ago, Nicholas Reicher said:

It's why we've got so many bad teachings out there that sincere Christians believe, but that's a subject for a sermon I'll never deliver.

I had something all written out, but the Bible says it way better :) 

 

Matthew 11:28-30 King James Version (KJV)

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Edited by HK1

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Something related to this thread, although nothing to do with the cost of education.

 

Since pastors do make too little, how about we consider giving our pastors a "Christmas bonus?" It seems many on this site have the same disease we have -- fundzalo. (Sound it out. You'll get it. xD) But if we can spread the idea around and everyone give a little, it would add up.

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