Recently, a pastor of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in a county told me that they had made an agreement with the grassroots church that unless they were willing to give seminary graduates a salary based on a certain standard, no more new theology student preachers would be assigned to them.
When it comes to supplying pastors, I have heard something that is to "encourage" the pastors, such as "living by faith" and "Paul also preached and wove tents at the same time".
Pastor Wu Weiwen of Divinity School of Chung Chi College once shared, "Pastors are like the Levites in the past, serving full-time on behalf of believers, and focusing on praying and preaching." The Levites served full-time in the holy temple, whilst members of the other eleven tribes needed to make offerings to support them.
"Imagine, if a preacher needs to serve the church while worrying about the needs of his family, can they keep a peaceful mind and do the church work well? Some preachers have to do part-time jobs or even just quit their ministry in order to work a secular job. It is a huge loss for the church. As a preacher, one should be devoted to thinking about how the church will prosper. Companies in the secular world provide high salaries and various insurances to make their employees feel comfortable and focus on working for the organizations. Why doesn't the church do the same? Why not give preachers a fixed salary and double honor?" Pastor Wu asked.
In rural churches, most pastors are unpaid. Many work normally and preach on Sundays, which discourages quite many young seminarians. A good number of rural churches have few believers and little offering. In addition, without full-time preachers, it is difficult for the church to make a breakthrough but only maintain the status quo and hold Sunday services.
The church has a long history of having a volunteer system. An old pastor in Yunnan Province also shared that when missionaries were preaching the gospel in China, the church was not responsible for their needs in dailyy life. They were supported by the Church Missionary Society. After they left, the church experienced a significant change. With the resumption of worship services, a volunteer system came into being. The preachers did part-time ministry and did not receive compensation from the church. However, they did not think it was very hard for them to work while serving at the same time.
"I think the church should develop full-time staff, and their needs of life must be taken into account. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the church to revive."
A pastor in the Northeast recalled that he also experienced a period of doing ministry with very low pay. At that time, in addition to preaching, he would spend his time visiting others and thinking about how to serve well. After the believers knew of his situation, they began to care and help him. There was also such a testimony.
What I prefer to see is that the church can gradually improve its rules and regulations to fundamentally guarantee the basic necessities of life of the preachers, so that they are neither rich nor poor. Then they can be dedicated to preaching and praying with peace of mind.
- Translated by Shuya Wang