By Johnie Edwards
The Bible teaches it is Scriptural for a church to own and furnish a preacher a house in which to live as part of his support (2 Cor. 11:8). There are some real problems connected with this arrangement.
(1) “We furnish a house. ” When elders discuss financial arrangements with a preacher, they will tell the preacher how much they intend to pay him in money and then they say, “We also will furnish you a house.” This can be done. But, who furnishes who, what?
(2) The pay. The Bible teaches “that the laborer is worthy of his hire. . .” (Lk. 10:7). When elders decide on the figure to pay a preacher, they deduct the value of the house from what he would normally be paid if he provided his own house.
(3) Who furnishes who, what? Most have the furnishing business turned around. Instead of the church furnishing the preacher a house, the preacher is really furnishing the church a house! I know a church which owns the preacher’s dwelling and has an extra bedroom so the regular preacher can keep a visiting preacher. This is not so bad but the preacher had to buy extra bedroom furnishings for the visiting preacher’s bedroom. I doubt if this is the responsibility of the preacher!
(4) Salary is less. It has been estimated that a preacher who lives in a house owned by the church is usually paid 30% to 40% less than if he provides for his own house.
(5) Buys two houses. If a preacher lives in church owned housing all of his normal preaching life, he will pay for at lest two houses for churches in his lifetime. Who furnishes who, what?
(6) Profit. Oftentimes a church will sell a house, paid for by preachers who live in the house, for a profit. With inflation and the rising cost of living, this can amount to about 12% per year. Have you ever heard of a church who gave this profit to the preacher who really made them the profit?
(7) A suggestion. I have lived in both my own house and church-owned property, and I believe a good way to help provide for preachers (especially when they get older) is to pay them enough so they can buy their own house. They will need it when they get older.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 29, p. 476
July 26, 1979