By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
I recently received a note from a pastor friend who was distressed that his church was considering cutting his salary.
I was disturbed as well because I know this pastor and no one works harder and cares about his flock and the lost in his community than he does.
Budgets are tight everywhere, from our own personal budgets to businesses and in our denomination and churches.
Budget cuts are necessary at times.
But, especially at the church level, cutting the salaries of ministers and staff should be the “last resort” than the first move made.
Christians (including Baptists) often have no clue as to what their pastors and ministers actually do.
They may stop by the church occasionally and the minister may not be there. That does not mean he’s off playing golf or he has gone fishing.
People actually get sick during the day and have to go to the hospital. Funerals are usually not held after office hours (though I have discovered that there are evening funerals in Tennessee).
We often joke about the pastor only working two days a week (Sunday and Wednesday night), but that’s what it is, a joke. Pastors and other staff ministers are on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A sermon does not happen on Sunday morning. The sermon happens after hours upon hours of preparation the week (or weeks) before.
As churches begin budget planning for a new year, take into account the time your ministers spend. Pastors of smaller congregations often are called on more than pastors of larger churches because they have no one to share responsibilities with. This needs to be taken into consideration.
And, while we are on the subject of the pastors/staff, give them “permission” to be out of the pulpit on occasion. Their vacation time should not have to be from Monday through Saturday night. Pastors and other staff ministers need a break from preaching, leading music, etc., as much as anyone else deserves a break from his or her jobs.
A rested minister will be a more effective minister when he returns.
In planning for next year’s budget, seriously consider increasing your support to missions and ministries worldwide through the Cooperative Program. If every church in the state would increase their current CP giving by just 1 percent over one to three years, we would have $6 million in new dollars to help spread the gospel in Tennessee and around the world.
During budget planning, pray about how you will be stewards of the resources God is providing your church. When all is said and done, it is His money, not ours.
I have heard this message proclaimed many times through the years: You cannot out give God. That applies to churches as well as individuals. He does and will supply our needs.