It is a great joy to serve along side fellow pastors/elders for the care of our people’s souls. Yet, as a result of the kinds of questions I receive through this blog, it seems the typical tension between these godly men who lead our churches comes as a result of this dynamic between those compensated by the church and those who are not. I am not referring to certain pastor’s jealously or bitterness over not being paid or paid enough (different issue), but how our labors are spread out among each other and how “in the loop” each pastor feels.
Acknowledging that it is a good and healthy thing to have both paid and unpaid pastors in your local church (1 Tim. 5:17-18), here are a few thoughts with hopes that more unity and inclusion would be fostered among all your pastors:
Paid pastors should take on most of the day to day grind. That is what we are paid for, so that we can spend our days doing the day to day operations of the church and shepherding of souls. Our part time paid staff have less responsibility than I do in this daily grind, but carry more of the load than our pastors who are not paid at all and less available because their secular job keeps them occupied. Additionally, do not get hung up on whether someone is paid or not for pastor’s meetings. By the time most pastors/elders meetings take place, both paid and unpaid pastors have worked more hours at their job (church or secular) than they are officially compensated for and should not be seen as, “some are paid to be at a pastor’s meeting and the others are not.”
Paid pastors must work hard to keep the unpaid pastors informed. The greatest challenge seems to be because the unpaid pastors are not as involved in the day to day grind, they naturally feel less informed. This means the paid pastors who are most involved in the daily operations must be deliberate to keep the unpaid pastors up to date. I find this best happens through emails I can send to them as updates, which I take responsibility to send since I am the only full-time pastor at our church. If you are not consistent and diliberate to keep the unpaid pastors informed, they will by default feel out of the loop.
Paid and unpaid pastors must sit at the table as equals. Financial compensation should not communicate value when it comes to the pastors sitting at a round table discussing the struggles of your people and how to best care for their souls. As the Senior Pastor and the only full-time paid pastor in our church, I am seen as the first among equals, but nonetheless…equals. Each pastor’s input should be seen as valuable as the others. Each pastor’s preaching should be received as the others. Each pastor’s concerns should be considered as much as the others.
There are five of us who serve as pastors in our church. One is fully compensated (me). Two pastors are on staff part-time. The other two pastors are not paid a dime by the church. Each of these men are a gift in the unique value they bring to the table. This suggestions are simply some principles to which we strive that keep all of us in the loop and united in task and calling.
Remember, the burden of keeping all pastors/elders in the loop and involved in the issues of the church lay heavily upon those who are full-time at the church and deal with the daily grind the most. Regardless how you divide up the work of the ministry in your local church, support one another and do all you can to keep the less involved in the loop.