The economics of supply preaching

I’d love some feedback from my readers — anonymous with a legitimate email address is fine in this case — to find out what supply preachers are getting paid, if anything. A denominational identification and a general sense of the area (region and relative cost of living) would also be very helpful.

Why? Because supply preachers — paid per service or sermon — is likely to continue as a solution for churches, particularly as the decline of the influence of churches in the United States escalates. But I worry that the rate is too low. And if it’s too low, the people who will preach supply will be students, retirees, plus perhaps those who have well-paying work (and may not have much opportunity to preach) or who are desperate for every penny. Too low for what? Putting together a living with part-item gig. That itself isn’t ideal, but is probably going to become more common as the United States economy also changes. Supply preaching will have to pay as well as other casual opportunities. This is all the more complicated since prospective mission churches are the ones more likely to need supply services, and they’re less able to afford them.

No answers now, but something worth flagging.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

2 thoughts on “The economics of supply preaching”

  1. $250-$300, usually (among UUs). Or less. Rarely more. Sustainable? Figure the 20 hours to prepare and write a (new) sermon that’s usually cited.

    Deduct costs. Travel, some fraction of a computer and printer, cost of any books or other research materials.

  2. In Indiana and Ohio. It varies by location and denomination. Quakers and Brethren tend to be as low as $50 in rural areas, and as high as $100 in cities. UU’s and UCC as low as $125 in rural areas, and $250 in more urban settings. Most who I know do this, are chaplains with Sundays free – so this is “egg money” as my Grandma would have put it. But it still seems very low.

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