A recent investigation by Sunday Telegraph revealed that low and middle-level pastors across the various Christian denominations in Nigeria are languishing under a harsh regime of poor remuneration.
Our correspondent, who spoke to a crosssection of this calibre of ministers, found out that the ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, survive at the mercy of impoverished church members while their superrich church operators and denominational leaders flaunt extravagant and rollicking lifestyles.
A pastor in charge of a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), who spoke to our reporter in confidence, disclosed that low-level full-time pastors in RCCG earn as low as N13,000 per month; middle-level pastors earn between N18,000 to N25, 000 while part-time pastors are on N5,000 monthly salary.
It was also reliably learned that pastors in the service of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) are paid N15,000 and N18,000 monthly salaries for low grade and middle-grade ministers respectively. In the case of the Catholic Church, the survey revealed that Rev Fathers are paid N50,000 and above plus other paraphernalia of priesthood.
A frustrated member of one of the MFM branches at Ojodu, Lagos, who spoke to our correspondent anonymously, lamented that poor church members are being overstretched by denomination leaders who she said often abandoned the welfare of and care for their pastors to impoverished church members.
She said: “We had a financial problem and had to write to headquarters to come to our rescue. The headquarter church directed us to our regional headquarters, which reminded us that they lent us N500,000 two years ago, and we have only been able to pay back N100,000.”
On that ground, the Regional headquarters refused to provide the needed assistance until the local branch balanced up. Our source said they replied and asked the Regional headquarters to compare the strength/size of the local branch.
“At a sitting, we don’t have up 29 people. My branch was the branch generating members. My branch gave birth to the regional headquarters. But now only about four members namely the pastor, Assistant pastor, one other member that have cars.
Our assistant pastor blew very hotly during one of the parish meetings.,” the source related. On another occasion, the source continued, a member prophesied that the pastor stopped coming to church because the church is not taking care of its members; and therefore urged the church to pray about that.
Some pastors told Sunday Telegraph that during the COVID-19 lockdown, some churches didn’t take care of their members while some churches rather preferred to give palliatives to the government.
The unfortunate sequel of that neglect of church members is that churches who failed to care for their congregation lost members to those churches that took care of their members.
An Assistant Pastor (name withheld for obvious reasons) disclosws: “I joined MFM for the past seven years. I have not received a dime as salary except when members of the local branch organize for workers in the branch.
“When other pastors similarly affected eventually complained, the mother church will invite us to the headquarters, give one chicken and a small packet of rice and they make us to pose for photographs taken for whatever reason.”
He was so angry that he noted that he is a skilled mechanic, pointing out that he will gladly go back to his handiwork. “Another elderly pastor in MFM advised pastors not to aspire for full-time ministry in the MFM saying, ” Any pastor who is looking for a full-time position is aiming for disgrace.”
Sunday Telegraph found out that the elderly minister is still into haulage business and seems more relaxed in ministry. It was reliably gathered the MFM GO usually advises the poorly remunerated pastors that their faith would make ways for them.
Likewise, the RCCG consoles pastors saying: “We pray for people and the comeback and say thank you to pastors who bless the lives of their sheep with spiritual things.”
The questions here are. Why open branches when you know you cannot cater for them?. Why deploying pastors to man branches when you cannot take care of them? A pastor recently confessed that he had been stealing tithes and offerings without feeling guilty because he has been working and not being paid.
His words: “After all, the tithes that are paid, is it God that takes it? Or does it go into the picket of church operators? I take N2,000 to N3,000 every Sunday and that will serve as my transport fare and feed that day.”
Invariably, a part-time pastor in RCCG confirmed this much: “I am a salaried worker and I earn my pay from my secular work. For my role as a part-time parish pastor, I receive what we call a stipend of N5,000.
There is also the belief that people or congregants should take care of their pastors.” But devoted Pentecostal worship countered saying: “That disposition makes pastors exploit the members. You can imagine a nasty message a pastor sent to me saying ”
The stone rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Another respondent noted that there is hunger in the land but some pastors may become temperamental and would not consider the circumstances of their members. “Pastors are human beings.
They feel what the ordinary people feel. If you look into what the so-called full-time pastors are paid, you will also be disappointed