How much are staff paid in the New Testament? What does the Bible say about this?
The New Testament clearly teaches financial support for preachers; that is, for those whose livelihood is preaching (Matthew 10:10 and 1 Corinthians 9:3-14 for example). Missionaries were supported by the church (3 John 7), though they sometimes had to support themselves (Acts 18). 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Peter 5:2 imply financial support for elders, but the case is far from closed. So, though there may be nothing wrong biblically speaking with a paid staff, the New Testament lacks a coherent doctrine on the subject.
More interesting perhaps is the apparent lack of a "staff" in the first place in the NT church. Churches had central leadership groups. We find apostles and elders in Jerusalem, prophets and teachers in Antioch, elders in Ephesus. Some of these persons were clearly supported (locally or in their being sent out) by the church; others were not. Again, this is not to dismiss "staff" as unbiblical, only to emphasize that the NT nowhere spells out such a doctrine.
In the NT church, there was no "clergy/laity" separation. When staff members separate themselves from the church membership at large, we are in danger of recapitulating the errors of church history in our own time.
In short, pay the staff if they are full-time church workers. The level of pay is not specified by the NT. Though I myself am not a local church employee, I would encourage every congregation with paid staff to provide those who work so hard with a fair wage. The exact salary model of course will need to be confirmed by the local church.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the expressed consent of Douglas Jacoby.