Double or Quits: A Guide to Honorariums image

Double or Quits: A Guide to Honorariums

Just the other day, Andrew J. Wilson twittered the following conundrum:

“I did a few one-day conference trips this summer, and the largest gift was 13x the size of the smallest one. How are they decided, I wonder?”

This is a common question that preachers have to wrestle with as they take their first steps onto the conference circuit. But seasoned professionals such as myself have learnt not to accept a speaking engagement unless the conference host has first demonstrated a sufficient level of transparency over the criteria for the honorarium. Since most conferences cannot live up to my exacting standards of financial clarity, the organisers have simply ceased inviting me. Their loss.

Matthew Hosier laid out some broad principles, which, whilst undeniably helpful, were hardly definitive. So it falls to me, as usual, to put some meat on the bones. In order to help fledgling preachers such as Wilson and Hosier, I thought it might be helpful to spell out in detail how we decide what to pay guest speakers at Ring of Bright Water. We have a stringent set of guidelines, which determine the final value of the gift, and our treasurer ticks them off a scorecard as we go through the sermon.

Each preacher begins with a base gift of £10 (plus an additional £5 to cover travel expenses, and £3 for a Tesco meal deal), and from there they can either increase or decrease their gift based on a number of factors. Since Paul instructed Timothy that those who preach and teach are worthy of double honour (1 Tim 5:17), we think it is important to give the preacher an opportunity to substantially increase the amount he gets paid. The ball is in his court.

The determining factors are as follows:

• Use of substantial Old Testament reading - 8 verses or more (+ £1)
• Use of substantial New Testament reading - 8 verses or more (+ £1)
• Supplementary references (£0.10 per reference)
• Bible translation used (ESV +£0.50. NIV –£0.25. Message - £3)
• Fitting the sermon into a neat three point structure (+£3)
• Fine for every additional point thereafter (-£0.50)
• Use of alliteration (+£1)
• Use of Greek (+£1.50)
• Use of Hebrew (+£2)
• Use of other ancient languages (-£2. Nobody likes a smart ass)
• Quoting C.S. Lewis (+£0.50. Unless it’s the “course he isn’t safe, but he is good” bit, which is overused. In which case, -£1.75)
• Quoting church pastors who are part of the Gospel Coalition (+£0.25 per quote)
• Quoting church pastors who are not part of the Gospel Coalition (-£0.25 per quote)
• Citing (favourably) one of my books (+£5)
• Making an effort with your clothing (Checked shirt +£1. Sandals -£1. Clothing made of mixed fabrics -£2. Odd two-tone shirt -£3)
• Use of powerpoint (+£1)
• Use of video clip (-£2. It’s a lazy way to fill your time.)
• Pay per minute (+£0.25 up to 30 minutes and then -£0.20 for every minute thereafter)
• Conversions and/or healings (+£0.75 each)
• Jokes at the Senior Pastor’s expense (-£8)

So, to put this in perspective: had Andrew delivered his ‘Dung Gate’ talk at Ring of Bright Water, he would have earned the princely sum of £17.80 plus £8 expenses.

His invitation is in the post.


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