Three Thoughts on Pastors’ Salaries
Now Jake Meador’s follow up thread, which I think is spot on:
The thing I love about it is how much Piper clearly does not give a crap about any of the things that are just “normal” parts of life in the US.
It’s only when you have the ability to regard the good opinion of the masses as a thing of little importance that you can really be useful as a Christian writer or leader of any kind, I think.
It is not a coincidence, I think, that two of the evangelical celebrity pastors who have weathered the past several years most successfully both strike me as men who do not give a rip about what is “normal” in America: Piper and Keller.
It is also not a coincidence that several of the men who have come out of it looking the worst—Metaxas, Jeffress, Dobson, and Driscoll, for starters—all strike me as being men who are deeply invested in the normal liturgies of American life. Tullian fits here too, probably.
Anyway, I’m just really grateful that John Piper thinks it is totally ridiculous that we just assume the lead pastor should make more than the rest of a church’s staff and that he would put a cap on his salary.
And then a piece of analysis from the Baylys that shows how far Piper practised what he preached on this. (I should point out that this analysis is a few years old, and is no longer current, though it was true up until his role change in 2013).
John votes himself no salary from his nonprofit, Desiring God Ministries. In fact, unlike the others, John Piper doesn’t own his nonprofit; his church does. Each year Bethlehem Baptist Church appoints the leadership of Desiring God Ministries. We challenge any of these other men to follow John’s lead and place their nonprofit under the authority of their elders board. What an excellent example John is on this.
Then because Desiring God Ministries is under the authority of Bethlehem Baptist Church and John is an employee of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Desiring God Ministries has to put into the public record of their Form 990 how much money John is paid by Bethlehem Baptist each year. We see that John’s 2010 church salary was $120,000.
Brothers, two things to note about this: first, it’s unheard of that any of these men would allow their chuch salaries to be known, publicly; and second, this amount John receives is very, very low for a senior pastor of his position. But of course, John still has his royalties to live high on the hog from, right?
Next to Desiring God Ministries in Guidestars list of nonprofits is a foundation titled Desiring God Foundation. It has three officers: John Piper, Terry Kurschner, and Noel Piper and they don’t pay themselves a penny from the foundation. They simply give money away ... Think about it: John and Noel use their royalties to fund a foundation that provides their church most of the salary they are paid each year. Then John turns around and gives his elders board the authority to govern Desiring God Ministries.
Go, and do likewise.