I might get in trouble on this one – big time! But I’ve always wondered how it is that pastors who write best selling books while on the church clock get to keep the money from the sale of that book. It is hard to believe that much of the research, writing, editing and final copy work is done on personal time alone. Which means they are already getting paid, by the church, for the work.
The closest parallel I can think of is working for a research lab. The scientist’s discoveries belong to the lab, not to him personally. In court case after court case, this has been upheld. You always read about some guy coming across some phenomenal discovery only to find out that it belongs not to him personally but to the company that paid him to discover such things. No matter how rich it makes the company, the money accrues to the corporation and not to the scientist in the lab. It might make him a valued employee and even a higher paid one, but it doesn’t make him the benefactor.
I wonder if it occurs to anyone that a pastor’s phenomenally best selling book that makes him much richer and more famous is actually double dipping. I wonder if there is such a thing as the royalties belonging to the church. The pastor doesn’t get paid extra for preaching an unusually moving series of messages. Should he get paid more when he puts that series in book form so more people can hear what he has to say? I read recently about a pastor getting a millions of dollars advance on his next book. My first response to that was the right of the church to claim at least part of that for the contribution they make to its happening.
One pastor recently decided that he would no longer take a church salary because his books are paying his way. Sounds gracious at first until I figured out the church salary is chump change compared to the wealth he had accumulated and that the amount of money earned could virtually support the entire church budget – and we’re not talking about for only one year. The church was the lab where the ideas were tried and refined. Maybe the church has the right (and responsibility?) to lay claim to what the pastor and the church discovered together.
I am looking for an example of a pastor who signed over his royalties to his church. The only example I can come close to is Paul Little, who wrote How To Give Away Your Faith, a perennial best seller. He signed over all the royalites to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where he was employed to lead their evangelism department.
My home church didn’t allow the pastors to double dip. Honoraria for speaking, weddings and funerals belonged to the church. These are all services to Christ’s church for which the pastor is already getting paid. That he could make more is beside the point.
Just thinking out loud. Yeh, you’re probably right – this guy is not getting enough sleep.