As a child, I can remember church leaders lurking around my family church’s thermostat like a school of sharks. Years of bitterness and conflict always arose over who would activate the church heater, when it should be activated, what temperature the church should be at, and how the costs should be paid. While all this would be happening, my father always made it an extremely powerful point that $10 per week was the maximum amount of money that any reasonable person would give to the church. The church never had a paid pastor, but if people could get into such bitter conflicts over something as small as the heating bill, then the Pastor’s pay would be like a constant crisis in comparison.
One should thus note that Jesus Christ is seen in both Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 to explain that both foxes and birds have a place to stay but that the Son of Man had no place that he could lay his head. The point that Christ was making is that he was as much as homeless even though he was and is God in the flesh. Although Christ had healed and fed multitudes of people, he had almost nothing because hardly anyone provided him with anything in return for the good things that he gave them.
To this end miraculous healings would happen at my church all the time, and despite the amount of God’s grace seen in the Church, one time as a child, I can remember someone having bought a television for the church and it was the smallest possible television that a person could ever buy at a store. Even though the television must not have had anything more than a 12″ screen or so, the church thought that it would be sufficient for playing videos on in the sanctuary that had seating for a few hundred people. The television was not only too small to be adequately seen even if people had not been blocking the view, but the sound was so distorted and quit over the distance of the sanctuary that it only sounded like background noise. If church going people have to suffer though such church services as what I experienced as a child, then one could only imagine what the early Christian missionaries would have encountered when they first brought Christianity to the world.
In Luke 10:3-11 Christ sends out seventy-two people to various towns with the instructions to not bring any purse or bag and to eat whatever is given to eat by the people of the house that invite the worker to stay (this frightens me already). The message thus given by Christ is that a worker deserves his wages but not to move from house to house, and towns that would not welcome the workers would be cursed under Christ’s instruction. Overall, not only did Christ suffer homelessness through his ministry, but he informed the seventy-two in Luke 3:3 that he was sending them out just like lambs among wolves.
1 Corinthians 9:7-14 teaches that a soldier does not serve at his own expense (this was before terrorist groups become popular) and that those that preach are commanded to receive their living from the gospel, but Paul explains in the passage that the reason why he did not use the right of compensation was because he did not want to hinder the gospel of Christ and was thus willing to “put up with anything.” In 1 Timothy 5:17-19 the scripture even instructs that elders that direct the church are worthy of double honor as the passage gives citation to workers deserving their wages in Luke 10:7 and 1 Timothy 5:19 adds that accusations against elders are not even to be entertained unless they are brought by more than one witness. Overall, not only does the Bible teach that Pastor’s should be paid, but it also teaches that their pay should never be influenced by the accusations of one individual.
In my experience churches will often have extraordinary disputes between members and sometimes leadership, and if a pastor is paid, then that can multiply both the problems and the tensions. For example, if a pastor has five children and makes a decent wage but has little savings, then a theological dispute at work can cause him to suddenly no longer be a pastor and thus be without a job for a long term. Because of this fact, the pastor may be overly careful about how he interacts with his congregation even to the extent of only using extreme professionalism at all times. On the other hand pastors and leaders that are not paid will often be a lot more open to using less professionalism and being very close with the congregation, but the pastor that is not paid is a lot more likely to quote from only a select few verses in the bible and tell very much the same sermons all the time with little preparation.
Paying a pastor is thus essential to godly living because when a pastor is not paid he may not have the things that he needs to adequately continue to serve and to do the work of the gospel (doing a half-job should not be an option). Often people that do professional ministry have to make such a huge investment into seminary education, relocation costs, and sometimes ministry expenses that if the church never pays the pastor, then they will be committing a huge injustice (I knew a associate pastor that was homeless). If a church does not pay a pastor, then he may even find himself doing another job unrelated to ministry and be unable to adequately have the time or resources to do ministry of any real value.