While becoming less so over time, many churches still provide a parsonage for their pastor’s residence. For pastoral leaders, it’s important to know the pros and cons of this housing option.
In general, parsonages are of a greater advantage to churches. In lieu of paying a housing allowance, churches can cover their pastor’s housing costs by way of their church owned parsonage at a usually much lower cost. Unless the church has a mortgage on the parsonage (most do not), the parsonage costs to the church are usually for upkeep, utilities, yard care and any needed repairs.
As a comparison, the typical housing allowance (which varies greatly among synods) for pastors is usually around $9000 to $12000 per year. Operating a parsonage instead of providing a housing allowance can often save a church half to three fourths of the cost of the housing allowance! This is often a great win for churches and in addition, the pastor and their family living in a parsonage are usually fairly closely located to the church – another benefit to the church.
The cons for churches with a parsonage can include fewer pastoral candidates to select from (some will not consider a parsonage) and there is less tying down a pastor to a church, such that they can change calls more easily with no home to sell.
For pastors there are some very significant pros and cons to the parsonage housing arrangement.
With all this said, there is an important caveat to this discussion regarding parsonages. In markets where housing costs are extremely high or in very slow real estate markets, parsonages could become a better win/win for churches and pastors.
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About the Author
Hi, I'm Pastor Andrew, an ELCA pastor with a love for sharing empowering personal stewardship for fellow church leaders. I enjoy researching the financial wisdom of the scriptures and of fellow church leaders and I hope to share my findings in a way to help clergy of all types!