Pastors, Expensive Cars & Expensive Houses

expensive-carToday, as we are wrapping up this week’s series of somewhat controversial questions, I want to say thanks for joining the discussions… many times your perspectives are enlightening and eye-opening to others.  In 2007 I had posted a blog entitled “Success vs. Excess” that examined the then controversial U.S. Senate investigation of Mega-Church Pastors, their salaries, homes, riches…  There were a lot of great responses on that post; if you want a blast from the past you can check it out here.  Today’s question was inspired by similar questions that were e-mailed to me by several people… so here we go:

Should Pastors Drive Expensive Cars or Live In Expensive Homes?

  • kevtherev

    What is meant by expensive? To me, car over 30,000 is expensive and a house over 150,000 is expensive. Hard question.

  • Woody G

    Great, a topic that has meat on it! I think pastors, and all religious leaders, should live at or below the means of their congregation. Pastors have income only because their congregation gives, so to waste that money on unnecessary, materialistic things is absolutely rude.

  • http://gbrenna.com Graham

    It’s their money… they make it working just like anyone else that works out in the market. They are allowed to do whatever they want with it. On the flip side… they should also lead by example and tithe more than the biblical 10%. If they’re able to do that and still have an “expensive” car and house… good for them!

    Oh and a house under $150,000 is very hard to find in the town I live in… sorry… but that’s not an expensive house.

  • http://www.scottrodgers.tv Scott Rodgers

    It’s all subjective and contextual. In addition, some pastors have more than one stream of income. I disagree with a pastor if they overextend themselves for image sake or as some sort of statement of ‘faith’ and ‘prosperity’. The big house and nice car are, in many ways, a cultural thing here in America. At the end of the day, as a pastor, it’s my and my wife’s choice – not anyone else; as long as it falls in line with Biblical stewardship.

  • http://www.andykirk.tv Andy Kirk

    I think it comes down to a phrase a good friend of mine said a lot. Who are you living for? Yourself or God!? Now you can take that a lot of different ways… but if you factor it in to every decision you make with the great commission in mind you could find yourself living on less and doing everything you can to give more to those who are hurting. If the bible is living… then the scriptures are meant to guide us today… so the Church of Acts is definitely a place to look for a selfless Christlike model of how we can enjoy life, but a life focused on God and not necessarily ourselves. I’m in no way saying sell everything you own and live in a hut, but I believe we’ve GOT to evolve into a more selfless relationship with Christ as we move closer to him. Just a thought

  • http://www.sosgospel.com Leonardo

    It is hard question. I recommend you to listen to this study:

    http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/proverbs/tithes-and-offerings

  • kevtherev

    Graham,
    in oklahoma its pretty easy to find a house for under 150,000
    Thats 3-4 bedrooms acre yard, and two car garage. Thats why I said it depends on what expensive is.

  • Jonathan K.

    I think I agree with Scott Rodgers on this one. What if the expensive car is a gift ? What if the expensive house is used for ministry and church purposes ?

    I disagree that is a necessarily wasteful use of a pastor’s income. Most churches do not even disclose their pastor’s income to their members… its none of their business. So long as the church is being good stewards of finances, I do not see a problem.

    Also, I disagree with the comment above that pastors should live at or below the means of their congregation. How would they know what that is? After all, as a member of the congregation, you do not tell the pastor what YOUR OWN income is, its none of his business or the church’s business, either. And then why limit someone… so long as they are being a good steward and living in their own means (and not over-spending beyond their budget), and tithing and giving, why limit the blessings of God?

  • http://paravane.wordpress.com jimmy paravane

    I think the pastor should live in the church. Wouldn’t that be good stewardship? I mean the building is empty most of the week anyway. Hey, the kids would have the entire kids church to play in!

  • http://www.kevinbussey.com Kevin Bussey

    Depends on what the income of the church is. I was on staff at a high dollar church in Atlanta. They paid us well and expected us to live in the area to do ministry to those who made lots of money.

  • RyanBurk

    I’ll be completely honest. Seeing pastors with not just nice things, but luxury items kinda irk me. It does not spur me on to make my tithe. It also makes me question whether my tithe REALLY makes a difference. A pastor challenging his congregation to tithe quickly becomes suspect. Now do I think that is a biblical way to look at it? No. But the thought is still there. It would be very hard to attend and tithe to a church that I did not feel was fiscally responsible.

    I would think most people would react similarly. So with a pastor knowing that, should he still have those luxury items?

    Again, not a biblical thought, but it’s there.

  • http://benkomanapalli.blogspot.com Ben Komanapalli

    I also think that it depends and it comes down to the heart and intentions of the people involved. As long as the person is not controlled by the money but rather has control over the money by the Grace of God he/she is in good shape. It has to be Biblical! I don’t see why a Pastor should live below the means of the congregation if he has other streams of income.

    “money makes a great servant but a terrible master!” – Creflo Dollar

  • http://nicoleknox.blogspot.com Nicole Knox

    Should pastors drive free cars or live in free houses?

  • http://willohroots.wordpress.com willoh

    I am bi-vocational, I am gonna pimp my ride.
    Seriously I need new wheels badly! but I have a nice house.
    Old song, same question, “Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His Television show”

  • http://www.swollenthumb.com Trey – Swollen Thumb Entertainment

    If a pastor is going to have an expensive home and/or an expensive car, that’s all well and good for me, but if I know this about the pastor, and I go to his sermon, and he’s begging for money, and guilt tripping me for not donating enough to the church, I’m going to walk out of his sermon. It’s one thing to pamper yourself with collection plate money, but it’s another thing altogether to act like the donations are required by the congregation.

    I don’t see why pastors need to make ANY money at all. Either A: they can get a second job, and be able to talk to people in the “real” world, or B: Devote themselves fully to the church, and live there or something. I just don’t see preachers as being men of their word if they are getting paid to say the things they are saying.

  • Mike

    Pastors shouldn’t drive cars at all. Jesus never drove a car. :)

  • Trevor Williams – South OKC CP

    no

  • http://steveorris.com Steve Orris

    Should Pastors Drive Expensive Cars or Live In Expensive Homes?

    Pastors? Why pick on them?
    All Christians could ask themselves that question.
    Pastors that do their jobs well but live in and serve an economically depressed area deserve great pay but it’s not available. On the other hand pastors that do not do their jobs well but have a wealthy congregation may get paid way more than they are worth.

    Football players get paid better than 911 operators. CEOs of corporations that waste tax dollars get bonuses while factories close. The rain falls on the good and the bad. I don’t think you can say that because a pastor gets paid well he is a bad example to others. Nor can you say that he is doing the right thing to take a salary that won’t provide for his family. Everyone should make as much as they legally and ethically can, and do the most good they can with what they make.

    I know of a man in my company that had huge debt a few years ago. Last year he made over a million dollars. He’s got a heart of gold and is helping many people with that money rather than spending it on himself. Each person can choose to be a good steward of what they have been blessed with or they can spend their money on things that don’t matter.

    The bottom line is this, what you do with your money is between you, your spouse, and God. Don’t let anyone look down on you for making the money you do, whether a little or a lot. And give others the same courtesy.

  • http://benkomanapalli.blogspot.com Ben Komanapalli

    Amen to what Steve Orris said!

  • http://itjuggler.ollis.id.au/ TheITJuggler

    I’ve read through all of the comments above, and I’m going to lob my $0.02 in.

    Firstly, I’m a Pastor’s kid. I grew up in the church, and I know for a FACT that my dad & mum usually didn’t have spare $ to throw around. Yes, we DID live in the church manse, which was attached to the church building; the best thing about living at church means no travelling time on a Sunday.. the worst thing is that everybody knows where you live and feels free to drop in any time of the day. And they did. It’s only now, in retirement that my parents have a home that they own, after scrimping, saving and my mum working all the way through my childhood until a couple of years ago. Most churches seem to think that poverty is next to godliness, but it isn’t; poverty is next to horrible.

    Secondly, my Senior Pastor has a beautiful home, and beautiful car. And you know what? Neither he nor his wife take a salary from the church. There were smart enough to find ways to supplement their church incomes until such time that they were no longer requiring finance from the church. And so, when they speak about giving, and tithing, and offerings, I KNOW they come from a place of no personal agenda.. It’s truly for the sake of the church.

    The worker is worthy of his wage. And I think that Pastors are doing work that is worthy of a decent wage. If you don’t agree with that then I suggest you go take a long hard look at why.

  • http://poetryokc.com Heady

    i believe pastors should be paid accordingly and how they spend their money is their business. but with that being said, pastors should be smart about how they live. just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

  • http://thewardrobeandthewhitetree.com Carole Turner

    NO! Period the end!

  • Sammiesoo

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a look at how the apostles and their associates handled financing when the Christian ministry first began? Then ministers today could follow the examples they set. (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17)

    The apostles and their associates took care of expenses in two ways. The first way was by accepting the hospitality of fellow Christians. (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2) However, if they were going to stay in the same place for an extended time they took care of their own expences and even shared what they had with others (Acts 20:33-35) The Apostle Paul even said, that he didn’t want to be an “expensive burden” to anyone. (1 Thessalonians 2:9, 10)

    An encyclopedia check will show you that the clergy didn’t start being paid a wage for preaching until the middle of the third century which was also when a distinction between the laity class and the clergy class started. So then, the scriptures combined with secular history shows us that there’s no basis for ministers to be paid.

    The thought that ministers today need to be paid because they have more stress in their lives then the first century ministers did doesn’t hold water when you look at the Apostle Paul. After all he was: stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19), shipwrecked (Acts 27:41-44), beaten and imprisoned (Acts 16:22-24) to name just a few, but still he supported himself as a tent maker!

    Look up the scriptures and you’ll see that what I’m saying is objective not subject.

  • http://www.super-teeth-whitening.net/ Nading Whitening

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  • Trajertia

    I have served with many Pastors and have found that most Pastors have very little money to live on. The congregation, in most cases are better off than the Pastors but will not give to support the church. Pastors rarely have enough to send their children to college, pay for medical expenses, buy a new car, live in a nice home….unless they have a large or wealthy congregation. People that have not worked along side Pastors or have not seen their struggles comment about things they have no clue about. I pray that everyone that has been critical about Pastors having anything of worth is either called to Pastor one day or serve beside one. YES…there are Pastors that live the high life but that is not the case with the majority of Pastors.

  • Deniasal26

    well this is really happening as I notice every Sunday morning that all the most expensive cars are parked in the reserve section of our huge church….me and my husband are faithful tither,…we never missed it…we think that’s the main reason why God blesses our marriage life with much happiness and joy…we live simple and only in our means and sometimes I was thinking to expect the same thing with the elders…its just our Pastor always complaining about church’s deficit and almost begging for everybody’s tithes but then they dont cut the overseas and out of states travels..he also says that the Pastor’s wife like shopping….well I quit questioning that..as long as we give our tithes we are doing our part and how they use it… they are accountable with their actions…

  • brenda files

    PLEASE READ THE BOOK OF GENESIS, GOD CREATED THE BEGINNING AND THE EARTH, HE MADE A MAN ADAM OUT OF HIS OWN IMAGE. GOD GAVE ADAM RULE OVER EVERY THING. SO THEREFORE GOD MAD ADAM AND EVE RICH. ABRAHAM ISAAC JACOB WAS ALSO RICH. JESUS WHO GOD LATER CREATED, WAS BORN INTO WEALTH. WHEN GOD IS YOUR FATHER, YOU ARE RICH, BECAUSE HE OWNS EVERYTHING. THERE ARE MANY MASIONS IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE. SOME OF YOUR PASTORS, WENT TO COLLEGE BEFORE BECOMING PASTORS, THEY HAVE MARKETING AND BUSINESS DEGREES. SOME INVESTED IN REAL ESTATE. SO GO GET YOUR INHERIYANCE. I GETTING MINE AFTER YEARS OF BEING MISLEAD ABOUT CHRISTIANS NOT HAVE WEALTH. THIS WAS THE EGYPT MANTALITY. GOD BROUGHT US UP OUT OF EGYPT. SO GO AND ENJOY LIFE, AND START RECEIVING. LOOK AT THE POPE WEALTH, GOLD AND MARBLE. NO ONE EVER COMPLAINS. LOVE TO ALL. STOP HATING ON GODS PEOPLE. AND GO DO BETTER YOURSELF. DO YOU NOT BELIEVE? THEN GO AND RECEIVE. SO AS A MAN THINKETH SO IS HE.
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