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Home » All Resources » Articles on Preaching » John Stackhouse, The Dirty Truth About Honoraria

The Dirty Truth About Honoraria

John Stackhouse more from this author »

JohnStackhouse.com

Date Published: 2/18/2013
Count up all of those hours -- is that what we really think our preachers are worth?

The way some Christian churches and other organizations pay their speakers, it makes me embarrassed to be a member of the same faith.

A friend of mine is a gifted staff worker with a well-known Christian organization on a university campus. He is married, with three young children, and works hard and long at his job. Frequently, he is asked to speak at churches’ youth retreats or special events sponsored by other groups. Rarely is he paid well for what is, in fact, overtime work — for audiences other than the one that pays his regular salary.

One weekend, he left his family to speak at a retreat for more than 100 young people, each of whom paid to go away to a well-furnished camp for three days. My friend gave four talks and participated in a question-and-answer session — a typical, and demanding, schedule. But his work didn’t end there, of course. Retreat speakers are “on call” all weekend: for impromptu counseling, offering advice over mealtimes, and modeling what they preach on the volleyball court or around the campfire. Make no mistake: There is very little relaxing in that role, however restful the retreat might be for everyone else.

So at the end of this tiring weekend, at the close of the Sunday luncheon, the leader of the group thanked him profusely at the front of the dining hall (he had gone over very well). Then he tossed the speaker a T-shirt emblazoned with the group’s logo while everyone clapped. It took my friend several minutes to realize that this shirt was his total payment for the weekend’s work. He got in his car, without even a check for gasoline, and headed back to his waiting family.

An isolated and extreme example? Not at all. Every professional Christian speaker has stories like these.

A widely respected author was asked to headline a fundraising banquet for a women’s organization. She prepared a talk on the subject requested, left her husband and children at home, drove herself in the family car across the city to the site of the meal, chatted with her tablemates, and then delivered her speech. Again, it was apparent from the applause and the warm remarks that greeted her when she took her seat that she had done her job well.

The evening ended, and the speaker was saying her goodbyes. The convenor then appeared in a gush of appreciation. “Your talk was just excellent,” she said. “Exactly what we wanted. Thank you so much for coming!” Then, by way of payment, she grandly swept her arm over the room and said, “Just help yourself to one of the table centerpieces.”

We Christians have two problems in this regard. One might be remedied by an article such as this one. The other can be fixed only by the Holy Spirit.

The former problem is that most people who invite speakers are not themselves professional speakers and so honestly don’t know how much is involved in doing this work well. So let’s price it out straightforwardly and consider whether we pay people properly in the light of this analysis.

A speaker first has to receive the invitation, work with the inviter to clarify and agree upon terms (usually this takes correspondence back and forth) and confirm the date. Then the speaker has to prepare the talk. Sometimes, a speaker can pull a prepared text out of a file, but usually at least some fresh preparation is necessary to fit the talk to this particular group and its context. (And let’s remember that the speaker at some time did indeed have to prepare this talk from scratch, so the inviting group does have a share in the responsibility for that preparation since they will be benefiting from it.) The speaker concludes her preparation by printing out her notes and perhaps also prepares a photocopied outline or overhead slides or PowerPoint presentation for the benefit of the group.

Next, the speaker must make her travel arrangements and then actually travel. Most of this time is not productive: Airports and airplanes are not designed to aid serious work (unless the inviting group springs for first-class seats and airport lounges — an uncommon practice), and driving one’s car is almost entirely useless time.

The speaker arrives, and then has to wait for her particular slot. She finally gives her presentation, waits for everything to conclude, and returns home. If she is out of town, normally she will have to spend at least one night in a hotel room, probably sleeping badly in a strange bed and, again, spending time in transit that is largely unproductive.

Count up all of those hours. Not just the 40 minutes she actually spoke at the banquet, or the four hours she was actually in front of the microphone during a weekend conference, but the many, many hours spent in the service of the inviting group from start to finish. Divide those hours into the honorarium, assuming her costs are covered (as they sometimes aren’t — for shame!), and you have the true wage the group paid her.

One speaker I know was asked to speak at a weekend conference requiring of her three plenary talks plus a couple of panel sessions. She would have to travel by plane for several hours and leave her family behind. The honorarium she was offered? Expenses plus $300. Her husband heard of it and replied with a rueful smile, “I’ll pay you three hundred bucks to stay home with us."

Here’s yet another way to look at it. A speaker was asked to give the four major speeches at the annual meeting of a national Christian organization. He was also asked to come two days earlier than the staff meeting in order to address the national board twice. In return, he was offered travel expenses and accommodation for himself and his wife at the group’s posh conference center—of which they were extremely proud.

So the speaker asked for an honorarium of $2000: for the five days he would be away plus all of the time he would spend in preparation for this large responsibility. The group’s president immediately withdrew the invitation, saying he was charging too much. Is this good stewardship by a Christian nonprofit corporation? Or is it something else?

One wonders about the “something else” when one looks closer to home and examines the typical honoraria given to preachers who fill pulpits when pastors are on vacation. Most churches now pay $100 or so, although I know of many, including both mainline and smaller evangelical congregations, who still pay less.

Let us ask ourselves, before God, how we can justify paying a guest preacher a mere 100 bucks. He has to accept the invitation and get clear on his various duties from the person who invites him. He has to prepare the sermon—again, even if he is going to preach one he has preached before, he still has to decide upon which one to preach and then prepare to preach it well on this occasion. He has to travel to our church and take his place with the other worship leaders. He has to preach the sermon and greet people afterwards. Then he has to drive home.

Time it out, and it’s likely ten hours or more that he has invested in our church. We offer him a 100 dollars, and that works out to 10 bucks an hour—a little more than minimum wage. He has to pay all of the taxes on that, so now he’s taking home between 50 and 60 dollars. Is that what we think our preachers are worth?

Let’s look at this from another angle. The average congregation isn’t large, so let’s suppose that about 200 people are to hear that sermon. By offering the preacher even $150 (which is more than most churches pay), we’re saying that his sermon is worth less than a dollar for each person who hears it.

The notion, however, that spiritual or theological or other “Christian” expertise should not be paid for is utterly foreign to the Bible. From the Old Testament requirements that generous provision be made for the priests to Paul’s commands in the New Testament that pastoral workers are worthy of their wages and should be paid such (I Corinthians 9), the Bible believes that people in such occupations are worthy of both esteem and financial support. Indeed, we show our esteem precisely in the financial support we give them. We think our physical health matters, so we pay good money for good physicians. How much does our spiritual health matter? Well, let’s see what we typically pay for it. We are, in fact, putting our money where our mouth is.

Thus, we encounter the latter problem, the one that only the Holy Spirit of God can address. It might be that we pay Christian speakers badly because we were unaware of all that is involved in preparing and delivering an excellent speech. Okay. But now that we know better, we should pay better. The latter problem of simply undervaluing such Christian service, however, is a problem in our hearts, not our heads. And the Bible is plain: We undervalue our spiritual teachers at the peril of undervaluing the divine truth they bring us. God frowns on such parsimony.

Indeed, God has threatened one day to mete out to each of us our appropriate wages for such behavior. And those wages will make even a T-shirt or a table centerpiece look pretty good.


John Stackhouse

John G. Stackhouse, Jr., draws on history, sociology, theology, and philosophy to explore the intersection of Christian faith and contemporary culture in North America and beyond. A graduate of Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Wheaton College Graduate School, Illinois and The University of Chicago, he is the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College.

Dave Clark
April 16, 2014
James 5:4, 1 Timothy 5:18... [delete comment]
Dennis Hassell Productions
March 26, 2014
This is certainly the case for faith-based artists as well: the heathen would blush to exploit artists the way many Christians do. I'd suggest for speakers and other presenters that when you get an enquiry, start with "That sounds intriguing! How many people do you expect for the event?"(they inflate at their peril)... "What's your budget?.... Well for that, this is what I can do..." Some clever chaps will not want to give a number, hoping I will offer less, so I quote them my commercial rate. >:) One church insisted on a "love" offering only, and it was taken after the performance, and it was huge. Then they tried to switch to the flat rate.. "Do not muzzle the ox that treads the corn.. because it might stand on your foot until you are more learned" - Hezekiah 3:16 [delete comment]
Tery Robertson
March 16, 2013
I've read the article and the comments here, and while I don't have an issue with people being paid, I'm just wondering how many of you have ever looked around at the unpaid work that your congregation is doing. In addition to working in my regular job, I spend 35-40 hours a week with my tiny rural church. We're too poor to purchase lessons so I spend 15-20 hours a week preparing a complete Sunday School lesson. I also arrange the music and lead the singing. I do the bulletin, maintain and host the website, prepare the food, clean, and, now that the only other man besides the pastor is in ill health, I'm now doing whatever maintenance I can. I also lead an in-house Bible Study for women and, really, whatever else needs to be done around the church. I'm usually the last to leave, while our paid pastor is the first out the door. And honestly, it's very frustrating to realize that not only am I never paid for the work I do (and I don't expect to be), but I've also never been thanked or acknowledged for it. So perhaps there needs to be acknowledgment and appreciation on both sides of the church aisle. [delete comment]
Jason Moffat
August 18, 2014
Tery, you do too much ... period. A "no" is just as important as a "yes" to opportunities. I would encourage you to spend some serious time in prayer to allow the Lord to help you with what He expects of you. [delete comment]
Gary Shew
March 8, 2013
It was a good article I really liked it. But I too think it was being read by the choir instead of the people who need to read it. I have been embarrassed by my own church at times when I talk about getting singers in and they ask well how much is it going to cost us. When I do get in special speakers in they think they will come for free. I got tired of a lady of the church when I asked for a raise she would say" God will take care of you" One day I mentioned the fact that is why God allows you to be a member here to take care of me in meeting my needs. She never again said that to me. I embarrassed by some pastors who I have eaten with as well. One night I was out with a group of them and their wives, the waitress who was waiting on the table was just great and when it came time to leave and to pay our bills and to let a tip only 2 of us and there were five couples at the table left a tip for the young lady. sometimes I feel that pastors only get what they hand out. But there are many others Christians who do the same thing. I have weddings and not been paid for them as well. I have one question out of all this how do we get the people who sitting the congregation to see that God will only honor that what will being glory to the kingdom and then I see the thought that goes like this Treat others the way you want to be treated. We need to think of that more often than enough. [delete comment]
Stephen Ventura
February 24, 2013
I had an opportunity to bring in a Nationally recognized Christian band to my church. They were passing through town and did not require their "normal" fee. But when I told the Deacons we had to sign a contract with them, one of them went a little ballistic. That is until I reminded him that their ministry is what put food on their table. And just like his employer compensated him for his work, we should compensate the band for their work. [delete comment]
Marcos Mercado
February 22, 2013
Excellent article! John clearly describes what I've been feeling for years. This is a must read from all ministers, church admins and those involved in inviting guest speakers for any church event. [delete comment]
Benard
February 19, 2013
John you are right in your observations. It is despicable that we should undervalue the input of minister and speakers of the gospel when we are well able to fairly compensate them. I am a pastor and I know how demanding it is to prepare and deliver a message. However; my question is as a servant of God, does one have the choice to quit the service because he/she was not remunerated accordingly? According to Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.9:14, We as ministers are entitled to live of the gospel by saying "?Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." However he also says "But I have not made use of any of these things: and I am not writing this in the hope that it may be so for me: for it would be better for me to undergo death, than for any man to make this pride of mine of no effect. 16 For if I am a preacher of the good news, I have no cause for pride in this; because I am forced to do so, for a curse is on me if I do not. 17 But if I do it gladly, I have a reward; and if not, I am under orders to do it. 18 What then is my reward? This, that when I am giving the good news, I may give it without payment, not making use of my rights as a preacher of the good news. 19 ?For though I was free from all men, I made myself a servant to all, so that more might have salvation." So for us, preaching is not an option, with or without remuneration, it is an obligation which we must fulfill with all the pains and agonies that go with it. See what he says in Thessalonians -1 Thessalonians 2:4 "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts". For us it's a privilege speak for Christ. Never the less; let those who are ministered to and feel blessed by the ministry generously support the work of God. It's our worthy contribution to building and establishment of the kingdom of God. Pst. Benard Otube [delete comment]
@Harold, do you read the other comments before you comment? You said "They are preachers of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and as such should practice the faith and love they preach about to others and trust God for all their needs to be met rather than look to man for their provision." What about 1 Cor. 9:7-14 and 1 Tim.5:17-18? [delete comment]
Harold Cameron
February 19, 2013
I read the article and felt some degree of agreement with the author and what he wrote; but only up to a point. Pastors, itinerant preachers and Bible teachers are worthy of their hire and should be compensated justly and appropriately for their ministry...if they are truly serving the Lord and for the Lord and his glory. I found some of the examples he cited to be totally inexcusable behavior on the part of Christian leaders towards ministers of the gospel. However, I know for a fact of ministers who earn in excess of $150,000 a year as the president of their ministries plus royalties from the sales of their books and honoraria and then send out begging letters to their supporters for financial support or their ministry will have to reduce the ministries they provide or they will have to travel less and preach less. The bottom line for everyone involved is where their heart is and where there true treasure is. Our Lord was poor. Look at the examples of the Apostles. I travel to preach at a small church once a month and the elders are very generous to me - even though I have tried to refuse the money. But they will have no part of it. What we now have are professional pastors and ministry leaders who feel they are no different than Bill Gates, Michael Dell or other such corporate leaders. But they produce and sell a needed product to consumers and from the profits of the products or services they sell they receive compensation, however pastors and Bible preachers are not peddlers of a product or service. They are preachers of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and as such should practice the faith and love they preach about to others and trust God for all their needs to be met rather than look to man for their provision. And Christian pastors or ministries that ask pastors and Bible teachers to minister at their church, Christian lodges, camps, or resorts should willingly and generously compensate those who minister to them. That's what I believe the Bible teaches and what we should do anyway. God bless. John 3:30 [delete comment]
Steven Leapley
February 19, 2013
Thank you for this article....As one who is launching a new ministry, my biggest struggle has been whether or not to do it as a profit or a non profit organization......History and 'common sense' tells us that a non profit is the way to go...why then did I have so many reservations... Big named speakers (such as Francis Chan and John Maxwell) are profit based as well as some non profiteers (such as Billy Graham). It is not that I want to make millions, but I do desire a life that is not paycheck to paycheck.... The crux of it all is about perception, which is what I see in this article. We perceive that if someone is doing ministry 'for profit' then they are selfish and egotistically (which has happened in the past) and doing it is as a non profit is really nothing more than a "well I will help your ministry if I get something out of it" speech.... This article does help me clarify some of my concerns and my challenges. Thank you! [delete comment]
Excellent artilce John. From some of the comments on here people seem to believe that if you complain about what you receive or what you don't receive for your service to a group who called you to speak to them from God's Word, or even the church you pastor, you are somehow "not spiritual." Comments like "who are you doing this for," and "quit whining, God will provide." Really? How do you think God wants to provide? Maybe through the very people He spoke to through His servant, who sent him away with a T-shirt! If Jesus was bodily present at this event, and in charge of the honoraria, do you think HE would have sent him away with a T-shirt? I think not! And as far as pastors like David Buffaloe and countless others serving God and barely getting by, do you really think that because they struggle financially it somehow makes them more spiritual, and if they actually complain, less spiritual? Where in the Bible does it say that servants of God are not supposed to be taken care of financially, or that they should barely get by? Here is what God says through Paul in 1 Cor. 9:7-14 "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or sayeth not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that tredeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or sayeth he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be a partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If other be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers of the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." And in 1 Tim. 5:17-18 "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that tredeth out the corn. And the labourer is worthy of his reward." God commands that people take care of His ministers financially and that they are worthy of DOUBLE honor, not just barely get by. Do you know one of the greatest causes for divorce is financial struggles? Do you really think that pastors and their wives don't have fights because of finances? Do you not believe that many pastor leave the ministry because of financial struggles causing harm to their marriages? Or because his wife left him because of financial issues? Do you really want to put your pastor in that kind of situation because you think pastors should preach and pastor for God and not be concerned with how he is taken care of financially? If so, you are going against God, as Scripture points out. Try calling up the electric company when you can't pay the bill and say, "I am a servant of God. I am trusting God to pay you. So please don't cut off my power. God bless you." See how that flies with any bill collector. Again it is sad that people actually think servants of God should just shut up and not complain because people are not doing for them what GOD says they should do! [delete comment]
Stephon Rhone
February 19, 2013
Excellent Job John.....this needs to be said! [delete comment]
Barnabas Mwiruki
February 19, 2013
Thank you very much for being so open and loving to the Christian Family. Indeed , we should appreciate the readiness, humility, courage and hard work and sacrifice that you put up by grace that eventually make you channels for our blessings in the speaking appearances. Barnabas Mwiruki [delete comment]
Michael James Monaghan
February 19, 2013
The message from Dr Ronald Schultz was/is most interesting genuine and balanced . I was going to write about observable extremes in pastoral incomes , but Dr Ronald Schultz said it much better. :) . I do hope that opportunities will come his way to share his wisdom , experience and concern to a needy people . :) [delete comment]
Pollie Marabe
February 18, 2013
Let those that minister, minister to God. Let God minister to His called minister to the ministry, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," (Phil. 3:7-8) Be like apostle Paul,that is our pattern.Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Jesus is our Example in ministering.Here's what apostle Peter says;1Pet.4:10 "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." [delete comment]
Randy Leblanc
February 18, 2013
Loved the article. As a pastor of a church, and knowing what is involved in preparation and travel I cannot even imagine not giving a "nice" honorarium. I have never had a guest speaker ask for a dime, but to me it goes to my character and integrity. Yes, God will meet their need if I don't give them anything, but He will also reward us bountifully if we sow bountifully. If everyone took the attitude, God will get the finances to you another way, there would be no ministers. The message is free, but the delivery is expensive. Let's take care of our speakers, they are Gods representatives. [delete comment]
Joel Madlangawa
February 18, 2013
Let us do what is God glorifying, and God will supply what we need! Helping people and being a blessing is a compensation that money can not equal. We have to be careful because the Devil may tempt us to look at what we can get in the ministry than what we can give. If we believe that God is faithful and we serve HIM, then don't worry, He knows what we need and if it is not given, He knows we need to learn something out of it. [delete comment]
Joel Madlangawa
February 18, 2013
Let us do what is God glorifying, and God will supply what we need! Helping people and being a blessing is a compensation that money can not equal. We have to be careful because the Devil may tempt us to look at what we can get in the ministry than what we can give. If we believe that God is faithful and we serve HIM, then don't worry, He knows what we need and if it is not given, He knows we need to learn something out of it. [delete comment]
Gerald Graham
February 18, 2013
I have to tell you that I struggle with the presentation of this article. So many these days seem to want to be compensated for everything they do in the ministry. Personally, I don't have a fee for speaking, funerals nor weddings. Nor do I charge for any of the materials I create like pamphlets, studies or skits. You can have them! Freely God gave them to me, freely I give them to you so that by God's grace someone might get saved. That's what were in it for anyway right? I've seen far too many small ministries struggle because of the cost of getting a hold of quality materials and training and quite frankly, I think that is a shame. Shame on us for demanding it... [delete comment]
A companion article could be about non pastoring honoraria. I counselled at a camp will going to an expensive christian college. The pay? $.08 per hour per child (8 kids) all week, one week night of, 24 hours off on weekend. That was twenty years ago but I recently checked and while the rate has gone up it has only gone up about 2 percent a year. Oh and I am about half done paying back my college loans. I am now a small town preacher I have probably pulpit supplied 50 times and I haven't got 150 yet. I am not bitter. I am actually blessed. On the other side I have sat at a conference and wondered about if the $2000 honoraria was right for a 36 hour time commitment. Half of weddings and funeral I had worked on have paid nothing. [delete comment]
Rev. Caleb Adjetey Mensah
February 18, 2013
Great job, I believe the wrong people re reading this material, most often than not, church leaders thought giving the due honoraria is a wast, some time thinks, it is just a plan to enrich ourselves. That is why we do exchange pulpit. Even the the local pastor spend a lot research to enrich his congregation, most of these investment are not known. [delete comment]
Brad Brucker
February 18, 2013
Good Article! Reminds me of how most Christian tip. Sad! We are a church of about 300 on Sunday. Normally we give $250 to guest speakers. We always work out the financial piece for retreat speakers. It is, however, incumbent upon the speaker to take responsibility for his or her own rates. One thing I do struggle with with guest speakers at times is them bringing "canned" talk. God's word is always fresh and I want my people to get a freshly cooked meal every week, even when a guest speaker comes. That's something I now ask for. I mean, how much do you pay for a stale TV dinner? Generally pastors and speakers are poor business people. So, good Article to call us all to be better stewards! Thx! [delete comment]
Zachary Bartels
February 18, 2013
What DAVID SMITH said... [delete comment]
Zachary Bartels
February 18, 2013
The T-shirt and centerpiece examples are rotten and make me cringe. However, there's nothing wrong with a church offering $100 or $150 as an honorarium. I have accepted such honoraria gladly from other churches and, about four years ago, I convinced my church to raise the pulpit supply budget to $150 a pop, and am perfectly content that we are paying fairly. While the author of this piece points out that "some preparation" is almost always necessary in order to address a banquet/retreat/etc., when we're talking about Sunday morning, any pastor who does any amount of pulpit supply has a file folder full of stand-alone messages that he has delivered a number of times and can easily dust off, adjust for audience, and deliver with little effort. If the person providing pulpit supply lives in town (usually lives within 1/2 hour drive in my experience), then mileage 100 or 150 really does pay them a fair hourly wage. Remember that supply preachers are rarely asked to lead worship or do anything beyond their homily. This means that the other 40 minutes of time during the service, they are worshiping. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be paid to worship. <paragraph break that SC.com won't let me make> I for one love preaching. I spend a week at a denominational camp every year, preaching twice a day to junior highers. The only pay I receive is food and a cabin to sleep in. (And access in the afternoon to a lovely beach.) In fact, lately, the camp has requested that, if we can afford it, all volunteer staff throw in $50 for the week to cover expenses. I have asked my church to do that for me, and they do gladly. But I count that week as vacation time because it is truly a break from the normal everyday ministry the rest of the year through. We have to remember that the reason pastors are paid is so they can support themselves and their families. If my church is already doing that and I only take on extra duties as I am able to without short-changing my congregation or my family, then honorariums are just that: a way of honoring me with a thank-you gift for giving of my time and gifts for the body of Christ. It may be different for the speaker who is not also pastor of a congregation, but I can only speak for myself. [delete comment]
Ozy Alvarado
February 18, 2013
While this article holds a lot of good points, I can't see Jesus complaining or caring about how much of an honorarium he would get at speaking engagements. The bottom line is, does God want you to be speaking at "said" event - if so - do it out of obedience and God will provide. [delete comment]
Jason Moffat
August 18, 2014
Ozy, we're not talking about Jesus' ministry in the Ancient Near East as the son of God come to bring the Kingdom of God to earth and provide a way to heaven ... we're talking about men and women leaving their families (through prep and travel time) to then be "in the hole" financially after said ministry (travel expenses not covered, etc.). [delete comment]
David Smith of Redeeming Life Church
February 18, 2013
I am a Pastor and do get opportunities to speak outside of the church i Pastor. I read this article and am troubled by the content of this article. As Christians we always are trying to be rewarded on this earth for the things we do on earth. what ever happened to being content with what we have. I look around at all of these big name preachers and they expect to be flown around first class, picked up in Bentley's, put up at the finest hotels and dined at $50 dollar a plate hotels and then they preach about things being a good steward of God's money and they stand up and say just trust God and He will supply all of your needs according to His riches. At our church we always pay the speakers according to their time and how far they had to travel to come to our church. They are taken care of and fed well why they are with our church. The troubling thing to me that preachers today have this attitude that they are entitled to be treated better than everybody else, if Jesus is our true example why aren't we removing our garments and washing the peoples feet with our humility. Pastors get paid while they are away preaching at other churches by their local churches and are now complaining because they aren't getting paid what they think they deserve by these other congregations. I understand totally the cost of going out and speaking, but the bible says do all things without murmuring and complaing. If you thnk you are getting cheated by going to other places and not getting paid what you think you deserve then quit going, there are alot of anointed men who see the work of the Kingdom as laying up their reward in heaven and not on earth [delete comment]
Jason Moffat
August 18, 2014
David, I commend your church for "paying the speakers according to their time and how far they had to travel" but the article is directed at the churches and organizers who pay little or do not pay anything to preachers (not all are Pastors) who pay out-of-pocket to get to the ministry location. The man or woman then goes back to their own family's budget "in the hole". What would happen if we treated the heating/cooling plumber the same way? Gave him a church T-shirt or church coffee bar voucher instead of paying him for his work? [delete comment]
Scott Reeves of Mt Moriah
February 18, 2013
I read this article with two points of view. The first point upset me because if you entered the clergy for the money you?re in the wrong business; you?re laying your treasures and your heart in the wrong place. Second point of view is I am responsible for a small country church. We do not have the resources to pay a large honoraria to anyone for any reason. We can cover travel expenses (for someone local) and we will treat them with the love of God while they are here. Other than that, we simply do not have the resources larger churches have. My case in point is two-fold: 1) If your profession is that of a motivational speaker (Christian or otherwise) and this is how you make your living then you should expect to be paid your standard fee which should be negotiated at the beginning of the invitation. 2) If you?re not a motivational speaker and your annual salary allows you to live comfortably you can always say ?no thank you? to the invitation. Finally, ask yourself: Are you speaking for the money or are you speaking for God? [delete comment]
Sigh, we have in this as we have in all things; two extremes. We have pastors who live in multi-million dollar homes and have jets while others are part-time working their tails off at a secular job and trying to pastor. Ah, for the reasonable medium. I have done most of my ministry for free and have even turned back some checks to the church because I was better off than they were. Applying to a church as a pastor most want a two-fer. They want to hear my wife and I at a salary that would be less than minimum wage for oner person. Somed do feel that a pastor should be under a vow of poverty so that his faith will get him what he needs directly from God and thankfully God has always provided my needs even when neither church nor job did. They all want bargains, but will do all they can to get the biggest name they can and if it takes mega-bucks they will do it, but if they could get Charles Stanley to come for a revival at $35 a night they would jump at it. A workman is worthy of his hire, but what is that? Some of us think we are worth much more than we are and the churches think we are worth much less. I once offered to take a church for $10K less than they were offering and I guess I offended them. I am currently seeking opportunities to speak in my local area and have offered my services to small churches for free as I have a retirement from Civil Service and the Army and have a job. They seem suspicious about that. Go figure. Years ago, someone said that my resume lacked titles and salary which would turn off the churches. Really? I thought that might show that I was in ministry for something else than titles and money. So now, I have titles and have had salaries and now I am too old for many churches since they are advertising that a pastor must be under 50. The money issue is indicative of more serious flaws in our people. If those things were fixed the salaries would be larger than they are but then again many of us might want less. IMHO. [delete comment]
Thanks for saying what I can't. At a church I pastored in NC - making barely more than minimum wage - one of our richest members passed away. For several days I consoled family members, arranged meals for the family, and then participated as speaker. I didn't even receive a thank you card from the wife who inherited millions. This is common among many Churches I've been at. I keep two offices - one at Church and one at home. People come on Sunday morning, hear a 30 minute sermon, and think I "worked" only 30 minutes. It takes several hours of prayer and study to build a sermon, juggling appointments with people in need all week long while I and the Lord produce 4 of these each week. The sermon is just a tiny tip of the iceberg, though no one believes this. I don't pastor for the money, but because God has called me to do so - but I am 54 years old, drive a 16 year old car, and own no property. My bank account could support me for 2 weeks if the Church "fired" me tomorrow. I often visit members and wonder when I will see a place of my own as nice as they have, knowing I can never retire or ever stop producing, for my wife and I have forsaken family, friends, fields and property for the Lord. I've not been blessed like Rick Warren to produce a book that would give me riches in my old age. It's scary if I think about it for long - so I'll stop now. I do thank God for what He's given me - He has been good to me. I just wish His people would think, just a little, about what we pastor survive. [delete comment]
Joe Mckeever
February 18, 2013
The problem is the wrong people are reading this. Mostly, it's the laypeople--in my experience--who don't have a clue how to figure an honorarium for an event. I once spent an entire Saturday helping some friends organize a monthly youth rally, spoke at the rally that night, then drove 100 miles back home. The friend who had invited me said, "I don't owe you anything, do I?" [delete comment]
Stu Marks
February 18, 2013
Great article. Right on "the money". For counselling on how to properly handle missionaries and other visiting Christian dignitaries, I suggest contacting Dr. Dan Woodward, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dwight, Illinois. He was my pastor for thirteen years and is also my brother-in-law. I watched him be an influence to dozens of churches in how they handle money and Preachers of all types. Our annual Missions Conference was all about The Missionary Family. Each speaker was given a large honorarium (usually $1,000 or more) and a complete new suit custom tailored while they were at the conference. The wives all went on a shopping trip to nearby Chicago. I learned to seriously treat these Godly people as royalty for the important jobs they did for the Savior. As a church, we took offerings for weeks in advance and went through serious organizational planning to make sure that not only the congregation was well preached to about missions, but that the speakers went away with a financial blessing as well. [delete comment]
Donna Larson
February 18, 2013
I might also add that there have been times when our ministry has been struggling financially and we are not certain we would be able to provide as large an honorarium as we customarily do. In those cases, we have discussed it ahead of time with our guest and asked if they might be able to minister within those parameters. In every case, s/he has been very gracious. It gives the speaker the opportunity to make the choice whether or not to come, and whether to consider the difference in income as sowing into that struggling ministry. The key, I believe, is HONEST COMMUNICATION. Let's stop tip-toeing around money matters and be honest with one another! [delete comment]
Donna Larson
February 18, 2013
Great article on a subject that should be addressed more often. We have always looked at the ministers brought to our church as God's gift to us for that time and have endeavored to treat them accordingly, asking ourselves the question: What would I do for Jesus if he was presenting today? (which is, in essence, what IS happening) If we don't believe they are "worth" excellent treatment, why invite them in? On the flip side, if we CAN'T treat them well, we don't invite them. Plan ahead, prepare your congregation, and give them opportunity to give to the speaker ahead of time -- then you'll already have a start on a great honorarium before they even arrive! Guest ministers can help solve their own problems by communicating if there is a minimum acceptable cost with bringing them to your church or ministry. Guests are certainly within their "rights" to express this, and then the convener is within his to decide whether or not he can meet that obligation. [delete comment]
Pk Hamilton
February 18, 2013
This is a great article. I lead a small church plant in Northern Virginia. I recently asked a local pastor to speak during a Sunday Morning meeting. We made sure to give him a honoraria that took in account his study time, an hour round trip, etc. If we are asking a man or woman of God to come and speak, we obviously believe their ministry is important and that they are impacting the world for the Kingdom. If we believe in their ministry and feel that their time with us would benefit the people we lead, why wouldn't we support and bless them and their ministry? [delete comment]
Thanks John. Needed to be said and you did it well. [delete comment]

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