Originally Posted by shayinme
: Let me state that my dad is a former pastor so I may be coming in this with a bias, but when my dad was a ft pastor he still had to have another ft job because the tithes & offerings were no where near enough for him to support my Mom, brother and himself. Granted it was a small congregation but the fact is there were a lot of times when my Dad took from the family money to help members out and make sure the church bills got paid. My Dad didn't even net 10K a year for what is a very ft job so while I think volunteering is great, the reality is churches need money to run its not always about the mega size building and the pastor driving around in a Rolls Royce, hell my Dad had a jalopy that was so unreliable he sometimes had to take the subway and bus to go preach on Sunday mornings.
My pastor is not *officially* full-time. He knew when he took this parish that he would only get half-time pay. However, he has a work-at-home job that while it requires some travel, is VERY flexible, around his church schedule for services (Sunday morning, Wednesday evening, Saturday evening), sick/hospital calls, counseling, etc. However, he spends so much time on church stuff that he might as well as be full-time with the church. He also has something of a pension from a job he was at for some time years ago (he's 70), so that helps, too.
We've got a 75+ year old building that we're having to do major repairs to over the past several years. When the stained glass windows are missing more bits every week, you have to fix them - we were covering the holes weekly with clear mailing tape (stained glass was all removed, repaired and reinstalled on the inside with energy efficient modern windows on the exterior)! The building was a "fixer-upper" big time! Also things like electrical wiring upgrade (building still had the original cloth insulated wiring!), replacing the original boiler, new roof, etc. Some other major repairs have been stalled in progress due to contractor problems & lack of funding (you can't squeeze blood out of a stone). We nearly all tithe (lots of college students, though, who wouldn't give much), but it only stretches so far. Nobody is rich. This is definitely no mega church. My pastor is the only staff. We do give our deacon a small stipend. There is no secretary or office staff.
There is a pastoral discretionary fund that people donate to that helps out folks in AND outside of the congregation, in addition to use contributing substantially to local food banks, etc.
People donating their time is all well and good, but a church has to pay its pastor, utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc. Some churches are so small (such as mine) that there is only so much that can be done. One woman cleans the church as her tithe. There are some guys who do the lawn work in the warmer months and shovel snow/lay salt as needed. The flower beds are maintained by some woman, and all the flowers planted come from the flowering plants the congregation brings for Easter decorations. Someone else who is very handy does many small repairs himself. Women who sew repair the vestments and altar cloths as needed.
Things like singing, doing the bulletin, teaching Sunday school don't really qualify as something in lieu of a church donation because these are things that would always be done by volunteers, not someone paid. Some very large and/or major churches (such as the local cathedral) might have a paid choir director, but that's not too common among the Orthodox (which I am).