I have a philosophy that guides my thinking in relation to church employee compensation and benefits. Before I share it, notice that I included all church employees, not just pastors. This applies to any and every employee a church may hire. Here is my guiding philosophy for church employees:
The church of Jesus Christ should attempt to treat its employees as well as, if not better than, the best secular employers of our day.
I can hear the cynic respond, “Of course you’d say that! You’ve got a dog in the fight.” Well, you are correct. I do have a dog in the fight, but this philosophy is not driven by my own current employment status, but rather by my belief that the church is to be a city on a hill - a light in a very dark world - in every single aspect of its life and dealings before this broken world. And this can be nowhere more vividly and practically displayed than in the realm of employee care.
I grew up in circles where pastors and Christian workers of all types were viewed as having, effectively, taken a vow of poverty as a condition of their employment. I can think of dozens of faithful, Christian school teachers, for example, who were paid poverty-level wages (or likely below) in exchange for their service.
Even for pastors, too many churches act as if it is okay to give little, if any, thought to truly being a blessing to those whose responsibility it is to shepherd their souls.
This just should not be!
While my philosophy may be an ideal that few, if any, churches or ministries ever fully attain, it should at least be the guiding force behind every decision that is made.