Would It Be Better if Ministry Were a Bad Career?

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Re: Calling or Career

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for your response. I think student loan debt is one of the more persuasive arguments for paying clergy more. I would prefer, though, that we'd cut some of the high-end salaries (of those who surely aren't still paying off massive student loan debt -- or shouldn't need that much to do it) and use that money to help seminarians whom we believe in to get through school.

I actually wrote a full article about this, "The Modern Pastor and Seminary Debt": http://teddyray.com/2012/06/06/pastors-and-debt/

Teddy Ray more than 4 years ago

Calling or Career

Circuit riders (blessed be they!) not only lived with minimal financial compensation; they also had no dependents. Celibate clergy dedicate themselves to ministry in ways which married clergy do not. No spousal employment issues, no children with educational/social needs, no parsonage, no familial circumstances to delimit your availability to the local churches or your ability and willingness to relocate often. Some denominations require celibacy for greater freedom to utilize and deploy clergy. We don't, at least not now. But celibacy would certainly drive out the careerists and the comfortable.

Jeanne Devine more than 4 years ago

Calling or Career

On the whole I agree,with your comments. However, the reality is that United Methodists now require a high level of education (7 years) to even be considered for ordination to Elder. Most candidates graduate with debt because the cost of education is so high. Unless the United Methodist Church is willing to pay for all of the clergy person's educational requirements (not likely) clergy will need and deserve a salary that makes it possible to repay student loans and live in moderate comfort.

With the high academic preparation required for ordination, and the inclusion of health care insurance and pension in the compensation package, the job of an Elder has become more of a Career than a Calling.

Lynn Reece more than 4 years ago

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