I was once asked by someone if they could rent me from the church to do a funeral or wedding. The answer is, you don’t rent a pastor from the church, but you can be a blessing to him. An honorarium is a payment made without the giver recognizing themselves as having any liability or legal obligation to a person for his or her services in a volunteer capacity or for services for which fees are not traditionally required. So at the conclusion of any funeral or wedding, you may ask the pastor, “What do I owe you?” and the answer will always be, “Nothing.” But what is the service the pastor has given to you in a time of need or blessing worth to you?
Pastors often HATE to discuss compensation with their church, and this falls into that arena. Pastors don’t get into the ministry to get rich. I also understand that funeral costs are rising and fewer people are buying life insurance policies. With that being said, if a family is strapped for cash no decent pastor expects anything; but, in the case where a family has means to do so I want to provide you with some things to consider, and some guidelines for how much to give a pastor.
First off consider how much time he is taking to serve your family and who is really paying the price. A pastor’s time must be weighed against his family and/or church responsibilities. An average local funeral or wedding will easily add on a minimum of 8 to 12 hours of work for a pastor’s week. He has his regular responsibilities to the church and his family. Remember he does more than just preach he takes time to meet with the family when death occurs, plan the service, do premarital counseling, show up for rehearsals, plan the wedding service, and prepare his sermon. He will have to make of the time somewhere, and often time with his family is sacrificed. When I receive honorariums, I seek to use it for Christmas or vacation with the family as repayment to my wife and children for the time they have lost with me.
So now for the scale, I have been asked for many times. Keep in mind I have asked many pastors about this, and this is from personal experience. I spoke to one of my mentoring pastors who has done 1,000 of funerals in his lifetime, and he was in agreement with this scale. So here it is and I have kept this on the low side:
· Minimum: $100 (note: this has been the minimum for about 20 years so $150 would be a better minimum bar today)
· Very Nice: $200-250
· Blessing His Family: $300-350
· Being Generous: anything over $400
· One final note that should be considered, if you are going to appreciate a pastor, don’t forget his travel expenses- mileage, meals, and rooms. I would say that you need to add a minimum of $250+ for travel. I have heard of some honorariums being as high as $800-1,000.