Should the church pay pastors? There are a lot of people who don’t think so. They use Jesus and Paul as models of people who didn’t take money for their ministry. While I understand what they are saying, I disagree. Jesus was supported by wealthy and women, and Judas was the one who held the money box. Paul didn’t receive money from the church in the city he was working but did from previous churches he planted. Such is the case in the verse we look at today.
“But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.”
Paul was a tentmaker by trade. He was skilled in working with black leather that produced these canopies desired by the Roman Army. He learned this skill from his father in Taurus. When he left Athens, he went to Corinth and immediately went to the agora, or marketplace, and plied his trade. When Timothy and Silas joined him, he left Tentmaking to focus solely on teaching the Word of God. Some have used this text to show that pastors should be bi-vocational (working a secular job while pastoring). It supports the opposite. Paul received support from churches in Macedonia like the Philippian church and devoted his time to building the church in Corinth.
Many pastors struggle with working full-time in the church. Some do because of the guilt of taking God’s money and feel they should be supporting themselves with a “real” job and volunteering in the church. Others struggle because the church doesn’t provide enough support to focus on the work off pastoring without getting a side job to feed their families. Being a bi-vocational pastor is a calling and should be done because of conviction or necessity. It should never be done because of the guilt of others in your church.
Should Churches Pay Pastors?
The calling to go into ministry is a leap of faith. Many have refused to take that leap because of the unknown, while others have taken the leap only to retreat because of uncertainty and fear. Paul once again shows us the model. When he had to work outside the church, he did, and when he could focus solely on the work, he did that as well. You may be contemplating serving Christ and wondering about this. Look to Paul and let his example be your guide. No path is better than the other—it’s what Christ has for you and your faithfulness.