By J. Wiley Adams
Most of the time the above title will be a misnomer for many preachers will never own the houses they live in here and there as they do local work. It is a common practice for many local churches to buy a residence for whoever is preaching for them to live in. Let me hasten to say that I find no fault with this practice as such. It falls under the category of preacher support, for which we have authority in the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 9:14 says “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Other passages could be added to this. Whether the preacher’s support is in the form of cash, benefits, or facilities will stand as a matter of judgment. Preachers may support themselves totally through a secular,job, or, by making up the difference in church support by secular work (Paul made a few tents), or by accepting total support from the local church or churches. This preacher has done all three.
My purpose in writing on this matter is to point out some disadvantages both to the local church and to those preachers who live in a church-owned house. While we (preachers included) are to walk by faith and not by sight, it is not to be through faith only.
In the normal course of events preachers will grow old. What security will they have as far as a place to live when that time arrives. Many preachers grow old and have to move out of a house they have lived in for many years while knowing full well that day would arrive. What will they do? What will happen to them? Where will they live?
In fact, since preacher’s houses are considered to be part of their wages, they must pay taxes on such. One place I preached, some of the brethren wanted me to raise full outside support, including enough to buy a house and put the house in the name of the church. I refused on the grounds that if I was going to buy a house out of salary that the house would be mine. Some were unhappy about this! They wanted me to buy a house and deed it to the church, then later on when I moved to another place the church would have a house. Do I have a point in all this some-where?to pay preachers a total amount out of which they can buy or rent their own place of abode. (Then if he is not satisfied with where he lives it is his own fault.) This total amount should be enough for them to be able to do this. In this way preachers can build an equity wherever they go and have somewhere to live when they grow old.
Furthermore, this can help the churches as well. A house needs maintenance and this can get expensive and not a little sticky. A house will have normal wear and tear and it can become a burden to the local church. Many churches are good landlords but some are not. If the preacher tries to get some needed work done on the house, he is sometimes accused of wanting to live too high on the hog. One place built a house “hard by the synagogue” (not the best thing to do for various reasons) and one brother who lived in the country and had outside facilities thought the preacher’s house should be no better than his. It was pointed out to him that, among other things, the city laws required indoor facilities in town. He was still unhappy.
Sometimes the only substantial maintenance done on a house is “between preachers.” Then the cost is so high that sometimes the former preacher is accused of not taking care of the place. It might be that things need repair or replacement that will cost so much the preacher hates to bring it up. Then, again, jealousy can arise in the church if too much is spent for the comfort of the preacher and his family.
So, brethren, whenever possible please pay the preacher enough so he can furnish his own house and can feel more secure in his old age. He deserves this for his services to the churches. It will also eliminate the problems that can arise due to maintenance. The church will be out of the real estate business and the preacher will be in the real estate business.
Does this make any sense at all, brethren? Please consider these thoughts.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 24, p. 11
December 15, 1994