The issue of salaries for pastoral workers has long been a recurring topic in the Church of China. However, even today, many churches have not addressed this issue properly.
Pastor Wang Zhenhai (pseudonym) from a church in North China spoke with a Chinese online Christian newspaper, the Christian Times, about the necessity for churches to genuinely care for pastoral workers and assist them in resolving practical issues. Only then could pastoral workers focus on serving the church and its mission.
Wang explained that the church he served had several full-time workers. Currently, their salaries for full-time workers are divided into three tiers, with male workers generally receiving higher salaries within each tier. He stated that, as heads of households, male workers had greater responsibility for supporting their families.
He said that within these three salary tiers, the first tier was 3,800–4,000 yuan, which was the initial salary for new full-time workers and could meet the normal needs in most cases. The second and third tiers offered higher salaries, and in their region, it was sufficient for supporting their families, he added. These salaries were net incomes, and the pension money had been deducted. Wang mentioned that they were now providing retirement insurance, which could help address the retirement needs of pastoral workers in the future.
When asked if these salaries were enough for pastoral workers, especially younger ones, to buy homes, Wang declared that most of their full-time workers already own homes. Among the male workers, only one did not have a house, as he got married relatively late in life. However, Wang believed that this worker was currently preparing to buy a house. Both he and his wife served full-time in the church, and with their income and family situation, buying a house was not a major issue, he continued.
If a church worker is struggling to make ends meet and cannot provide for their basic needs, it becomes challenging for them to serve the church effectively. Wang emphasized that housing was a crucial aspect, and if it remained unresolved, both life and faith, as well as service, became difficult.
Wang mentioned that young people in their area are in a relatively better situation because, in most cases, both sets of parents can assist with home purchases. After making the initial down payment, the monthly mortgage payments are not too burdensome when both spouses contribute.
Wang himself does not receive a salary at the church, as only full-time staff workers receive wages. He stated that he serves the church while also running a business outside, functioning as a bi-vocational worker.
Regarding their current situation, Wang is very grateful. He said, "During the past three years of the pandemic, many churches have faced financial difficulties. But our church is an exception; these three years have been the most prosperous in our church's history." Prior to the pandemic, their church had significant debt, but they not only paid off all their debts but also had some surplus funds. Wang attributed this to the active pastoral care and diligent service of church workers, stating that a church with both life and a mission could not help but grow.
The church where Wang serves has been caring for pastoral workers for many years, considering the needs of both active and retired pastoral workers. The church covers the cost of retirement insurance for every pastoral worker, which helps address their financial concerns after retirement.
The church has established retirement ages of 65 for male workers and 60 for female workers, setting up an "advisory council." After retirement, all pastoral workers can join this council to provide advice, counsel, and visitation. This not only addresses staffing shortages but also provides retired pastoral workers with a platform to continue contributing.
- Translated by Abigail Wu