Yes, for the most part I have been able to feed my family and keep a roof over our head. Yet, there have only been three of the past twenty years of ministry that my wife and I made enough money to pay our bills and save just a bit of money for emergencies. During the three years we did well financially we worked in two separate churches. We found that serving two separate churches made it nearly impossible to be a family. We made choices that allowed us to raise our children.
My wife and I are what is known as a pastor couple. We met in seminary, got married and both hoped to serve the church in full-time positions. What we have discovered is that the church doesn't know what to do with people like us which is why for seventeen years of our ministry we've basically worked full-time for the price of one pastor.
This has been a really good deal for the church, but for our family it has meant that we have had to live from one pay check to the next.
As I shared in the last post, my wife is leaving the ordained ministry. Her reasons are far deeper than financial however the non-relenting anxiety of living from one pay check to the next has been a motivating factor for her to pursue work outside the church.
For the record I want to make clear that my wife is highly gifted and has served the church with honesty, energy, imagination, and with passion. She is a good person. She is a fantastic preacher and teacher. She has what most churches want; intelligence and humor. For the record I want to make clear that the church is losing a brilliant, and compassionate minister.
I am left to wonder if the church had figured out how to deal with pastor couple salaries if my wife would have stayed in the ministry?
For the record, I beg the church not to use our experience as a precedence. It is and will never be right to pay two people the equivalent of one salary. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and other denominations that acknowledge the ordination of women need to better serve pastor couples.
For the record, the denomination has failed my family and during a time when we need quality ministers more than ever our denomination is losing one of the best.