There are certainly divided opinions about this issue. Stated simply, should the minister’s salary be kept public before all church members on a regular basis? For example, some churches distribute the monthly budget receipts and expenses of the church. In that monthly report you often see, to the dollar, exactly how much each minister makes.
Other churches provide only a total of all personnel costs or salaries. An individual minister’s salary is not visible in the total.
Some churches have policies or denominational guidelines about how this matter should be handled. But most don’t. So, for the vast majority of churches that have no guidelines or guiding principles on this issue, what is the best direction to take?
First, it is not a moral issue of right or wrong as long as there are no deceptive practices taking place. Second, most people, not just ministers, are uncomfortable having their salaries displayed before the public on a regular basis. Some positions in the secular world require such disclosure as with politicians and executives in publicly traded companies. But most people do not have to deal with the prying eyes of personal finances.
Is there a way then to provide the best of both worlds? Allow the minister a modicum of privacy while maintaining a culture of openness in the church? In many churches, the minister’s individual salary is not made available for general public consumption. Any member, however, has the right to come to the church office to see the salaries if he or she desires. Most members really don’t worry or think about such matters. But, for those who do, the information is readily available.
Every church will have its own personality and thus have its own way of approaching this tension between transparency and privacy. Some ministers have no problem with their salaries being visible to all; others will struggle. For the latter group, the suggestion above may have merit.
What about you? What suggestions do you have relating to this issue? Please place your comments in the section below.