I Think I’ll Pay The Pastor . . . Nothing?

I wonder . . . what do you think a pastor should be paid for a memorial service?

penny-chubby-handA friend asked what she should pay the pastor for her mother’s memorial service. Her mother was a long-time and devoted member of the church. I said, “Nothing.” I said being involved in a church meant the use of the church building and the pastor’s role were “covered.” In some cases, a person might pay for the musicians and food and other odds and ends, but the pastor was doing his or her job. Do you agree or disagree with that?

I added that as someone’s pastor, I’d prefer a personal thank-you card from the family over a check. However, I did mention that about $200 might be an appropriate payment to pay a pastor for helping in the death of a non-church member.

Interestingly, in the next week I helped a family with a death. Since I’m on leave, I’m not serving a church. Neither was the deceased, nor the family. I never mentioned payment, but received a lovely note and check for . . . $200.

Interesting for different reasons, I got an out-of-the-blue call this week asking me to do a memorial service. Without hardly a word of introduction, the caller told me about his now-deceased sister and what time they needed me and . . . I finally slowed the barrage of fractured explanations to clarify the situation. As I learned more, I recalled a memorial I did for this family several years ago. They never paid me then. What will I say to them now about any fees?

So what do you think? Should a church member pay? A non-church member? And by the way, I always feel awkward in talking to anyone about any payment. What about you?

A Grave Question…?

I wonder…what’s the strangest thing that happened at (or heading to, or after) the funeral for you?

I remember one graveside service. Near the start of my ministry. The family wasn’t part of the congregation, but a mortuary called my congregation hoping to “find” a pastor (what luck, a pastor was nearby. Me!). Only a handful of family and friends were present. When I said the Lord’s Prayer, I invited “everyone” to join. Bad call. No one seemed to know the prayer. So, it was mostly my voice. Which means, when I forgot the words part way through, everyone heard my “mistake.” Oops. How could I blank on a prayer I’d memorized since being a Sunday school munchkin? But, somewhere around “on earth as it is in heaven,” I lost my daily bread way. I mumbled. I stumbled. And since that time, in every service I’ve ever done, I’ve kept a copy of the Lord’s Prayer handy.

Odd, that was also a service where, behind me as I walked away from the grave, I heard the deceased’s children, a brother and sister, bickering over the will. It was obvious they weren’t concerned about my mistake. O Lord, thy will be done?

What fun, unusual, perplexing, dangerous experiences have you had grave side?