See part 1 of this multi-part series of posts regarding the UMC’s study that found ineffective clergy the biggest obstacle to overcoming the denomination’s 40 year decline.
2) My question today is: Does low pay effect the quality of pastors? Disclaimer: I am not arguing that clergy pay is low or that it should be raised. I am not arguing that we have a majority of ineffective clergy. I am, for the sake of argument, agreeing that there are ineffective clergy in the UMC.
If the UMC’s problem is ineffective clergy, then why does there seem to be so many? (See part 1 [link] for background information)
As I pondered this, I began to wonder if issues of clergy pay could be an issue. Usually pay has a correlation to effectiveness. The most effective employees usually end up being the best paid. This isn’t always true, but it usually is.
Are clergy underpaid? The question has been asked before and we could gather statistics, etc. It is difficult to judge what ‘fair’ pay would be. I guess it depends on a pastor’s effectiveness, but even that is difficult to judge.
Salary is an issue when individuals decide to leave the ministry because they don’t feel like they can provide for their families on the salary they receive. If there was a really talented individual, s/he could probably make more money elsewhere. A friend of mine left the pastorate (for reasons other than pay) and ended up making more than s/he ever did being a pastor. Most pastors don’t join the UMC to become rich, but could it be that some [effective] pastors have left because they could find better opportunities elsewhere? Could it be that some [ineffective] pastors have stayed because they couldn’t do anything else?