The Stark Reality About Officiate Costs

Financial conversations during end-of-life events may feel uncomfortable or inappropriate, but are long overdue. It’s time to explode the myth that ministers are God’s servants always taking a ‘vow of poverty’ when they become ordained. I know a large number of clergy, of various denominations, who face the same frustration I am about to share with you...

Most funerals cost between $8,000-$13,000 dollars. Yet for the past 25 years, the average funeral home honorarium, paid to the presiding preacher, has remained nearly the same amount. Funeral home staff suggest the family pay $100—whether the minister invested additional time or not. Some people even believe a minister’s work ought to be done for free—affiliated with a church or not. When it comes to memorials of all kinds, people expect a highly professional (and moving) presentation, while often not wanting to pay for it. What they don’t understand is that preachers (good ones, anyway) usually don’t just ‘show up.’ They devote considerable time and focus to end-of-life events. It demands adequate training to offer grief support when a family is in shock and/or pain. It requires intense organization, preparation, and excellent listening skills.

Like myself, most clergy have Master's Degrees. A gift of $100, while feeling appropriate to you, is around $8-$10 an hour (not including travel.) Compare that amount to hiring a plumber at $85-$100 per hour. We, too, may be called to the family’s home a few times to guide and counsel. Although you don't hire a plumber to conduct a final, meaningful service, you would expect to pay them for their specific time and skill set. The only difference is how we view clergy and their availability to us.