What Is Adequate Payment for a Visiting Preacher?

Elders often ask about compensation for events: gospel meetings, workshops, and special Sunday services: Homecoming, Friends and Family Day, or lessons on a specified topic.

I’ve been reluctant to discuss this. I’ve been blessed financially as well as in many other ways in my preaching and teaching. In my early years, I was afraid to discuss money: My First Raise and Why I Turned it Down.

A workshop a few years ago gave me an opportunity to rethink my answer. A church invited me to lead an all-day training event on a topic where I have experience. They asked me about my fee. I gave them my standard answer: “I don’t have a fee for this workshop. Pay me what you choose.” (I do have a fee for New Shepherds Orientation Workshop.) They did.

I drove 656.5 miles, gone from home three days. Printing and supplies for the workshop amounted to several dollars. My time, background, and training were worth something.

They gave me a check for $300.00. That was several dollars less than the IRS mileage allowance for the trip. Financially, I’d have been better off working at McDonald’s for the entry wage of $9.00/hour. My fault. They asked me for a fee. I declined to state an expectation. I didn’t comment.

But I’ve rethought my response. Now, when I’m asked, I say this:

“Remember two numbers: 56 and 7:12”

  • 56¢ is the 2020 IRS allowance for business miles for travel both ways — round trip.
  • Matthew 7:12 is the Golden Rule:

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, NKJV).

As you’re deciding what’s fair, what’s worthy of the time, effort, and experience of the person you’re asking to work for you in this special event:

  1. Pay expenses: travel, lodging, food.
  2. Ask yourself, “If I were asked to do a workshop for the work I do, how would I feel being given what we’re proposing to pay this brother? Would I be pleased or disappointed? Would I feel valued or devalued?”

Another way to check is to call several congregations in your area and ask how they compensate preachers for special events.

It’s also preacher talk that the way a church compensates a preacher trying out is a good indication of how he’ll be treated should he move to work with the congregation.

Jesus said, “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7).

“Remember two numbers: 56 and 7:12”

Elders, how does your congregation handle this question?

Preachers, how do you answer this question?

(Visited 1,184 times, 82 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

11 Responses to “What Is Adequate Payment for a Visiting Preacher?

  • There was a case that an individual tried to make up, a little, for what he believed was inadequate remuneration of a preacher. He did so by making an anonymous contribution directly to that preacher.

    • Eric,

      That was appreciated and has been told and retold.

      That is the World’s Record for anonymous gifts to Jerrie Barber

    • Jerry, Unless the minister states his fee, we pay the IRS mileage rate plus IRS partial per diem rate (meals during travel), the hotel/VRBO bill if not staying with one of our members, per diem for any meal they have that is either not paid for by the hotel or provided by the congregation and members. We pay for any materials they provide to the congregation. For preaching, $300 for Sunday morning bible class, AM and PM worship; Sunday morning bible class and worship $200; Sunday morning and evening worship service only $250; Sunday morning worship only $150; Sunday evening worship only $100.

  • Roger L, Leonard
    10 months ago

    Jerrie, I like numbers rule of 57.5 and 7:12. Mileage to and from home at the current IRS rate, lodging, reasonable recompense for food. Add costs for workshop materials if the situation warrants it. Did they ask that you bring your wife? Cover her food costs as well. Then pay what is fair for speaking. I would use this same rule for a try-out. For IRS tax filing purposes, the preacher should only turn in what he gets for speaking. There needs to be clarity from the church on what that figure is if there is only one check.

    • Yep. Expenses should be considered separately or at least noted on the check, and even sent ahead of time, especially if he is flying. The church should not expect him to use a credit card to cover his expenses until he holds the meeting or event.

  • I was once asked on the final day of a Gospel meeting, now what did we say we were going to pay the guest preacher? Eek!

    • Donnie,

      That is late for negotiating.

      I find that many brethren in the pew are amazed that most of the time we have no idea about compensation until after the event is over and we’re on the way home.

  • To answer the question as a preacher… My elders depend on me to keep my finger on the pulse of these types of things and inform them accordingly. They take my recommendation after I calculate travel expenses, etc.

    By experience, I find everything usually evens out in the long run. Quick example… I held a three day meeting at a small congregation nearby and received a four-figure remuneration. Two weeks later I held a four day meeting that required driving 100 miles each way every day and received considerably less. However, had the two checks been swapped, it would have worked out just right. But I understand the point. Brethren who can do better should, and they should be taught to do better!

  • Jerrie, I love your formula and if I spoke far and wide as you do, I think I would use it. As it is, I have a formula. If is is local to Bedford County, funeral, speaking, or such like, no charge. I come compliments of the brethren of Southside. If mileage and expense is involved, I live by faith. I have been “burned”, but I also have been over compensated.

    You got me thinking, in my years of inviting speakers to Southside for summer series and such like, I don’t remember anyone discussing financial compensation, and that includes you! Did we pay you well? I stay away from church money matters except for budgeting as an elder. When it comes to budgeting the payroll, I exit the room. I am, after all, on the payroll. I know we pay our visiting speakers but I don’t know what we pay them. I shall repent and recommend your formula.

    You also revived a memory. Speaking at a youth rally in Georgia. Over 200 miles traveled in a car with a failing alternator on a Saturday night. I had to stop for a battery charge at an Atlanta service station which doubled as the local spot where the cabbies picked up the prostitutes going to their johns. 10 dollars for the battery charge, the conversations were free. I got home at 3:00 a.m., preached at 10 and 6 that day along with my Sunday school class. As I opened my check Sunday afternoon from the Youth Rally I was hoping for enough money to buy a new alternator. The check was $25. Wish I’d had your formula back then!

    I love your stuff and am thankful for your faith!

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