Are you looking for a pastor to conduct your premarital counseling? You might get a surprise with the pastor’s bill. Many believe that pastors do not charge for premarital counseling. In many churches, local pastors offer free marriage counseling services.
However, in some cases, they do charge.
The most common reasons why they would request some money are as follows:
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- Preparing for Marriage Couples Guide
- Preparing for Marriage Leaders Guide
- The Meaning of Marriage-Timothy Keller
- Devotions for Engaged Couples- Gary Thomas
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1) Time spent
Pastors invest much time to prepare and conduct premarital counseling sessions to make sure that you would get the best advice from them concerning your future marriage. They want to look out for your general welfare. Some may even include their expenses such as fuel costs and parking fees within the fee charged.
People who spend time preparing for their job will usually be compensated for their efforts or expertise. So why should it be different when the pastor invests his values into the preparation of providing you with good advice to help you build a happy and healthy marriage?
2) Cost of pastoral services in the church
Some churches are short on money so they ask their pastor not to take a salary for some time. Some may pay only partial salary or just enough for the pastor’s personal expenses and needs. Charging for premarital counseling is one way of making up for his lost income in conducting such programs.
It can be claimed that pastors actually earn by doing premarital counseling if they have no salary from their churches. They know that the service will benefit them more than any amount of money charged at the end of their service because this would mean a stable financial ministry that would go on even after they are gone!
3) Time needed for counseling sessions
Some pastors conduct two-day premarital counseling sessions but others take more time such as three days or even longer. Some couples may feel that it is too much if they are charged for the entire time spent by their pastor from start to finish, including travel to and from the church. So some pastors may just charge them for what he spends on each session.
4) Family/church financial situation
If both parties come from wealthy families, they can afford to pay the pastor’s fee without feeling discouraged. But if one of them comes from a poor family or none at all, then this person will not have extra money to contribute to the minister’s income. Such a case may lead him to charge for counseling or just enough to help his family in need and to provide more service to those who can afford it.
5) Fee charges per session
Pastors may also charge for premarital counseling based on the number of sessions held with couples. For example, they might charge a fee of $250 for each two-hour session.
6) Expense for the couples retreat;
Some churches conduct a retreat for premarital couples to help them get ready for their marriage. The pastor is invited to conduct the program and most likely, he is given an honorarium or fee of some sort. This should not be included in his regular church compensation but as a separate expense for premarital counseling.
7) Personal training fee;
Some pastors also offer personal marriage counseling services to married couples who wish to have sessions with him individually. But this has been optional based on whether they get paid or not. It may depend also on whether he sees himself fit enough to do such one-on-one sessions without hurting others in the process. There are instances when pastors charge their clients separately but it’s usually due to long-distance traveling expenses.
8) Printing Materials;
Some pastors may charge for the cost of printing materials required in conducting premarital counseling sessions to make sure that they will have good copies of their notes, and session take-homes. He may also want to use printed questionnaires or papers as a guide.
9) Moral support;
Some premarital counselors don’t charge but offer their services free of charge out of compassion and concern for the couple and society at large. They do this without much expectation of getting anything in return. It pleases God to see how compassionate they are in giving their best despite having no claim on His provision. There are different reasons why pastors charge for premarital counseling. There are couples who will not mind paying their pastor’s fee because they know that it helps them prepare better for a lifetime relationship with their spouse-to-be.
10) Accepting gifts;
If a couple decides to endow their pastor in recognition of all he had done for them, then it’s perfectly okay that they should offer something as a gift to express their appreciation. But what he does with such funds should be left up to the minister himself without his superiors giving any advice or seeking permission from anyone else. What the couple offers as a gift must not be regulated by other people, even those in leadership positions at his church. There could be couples who may not have enough savings and don’t have the money to help their pastor with such expenses.
Final Tips: Do Pastors Charge For Premarital ounseling?
Some pastors will not charge if you ask nicely and let them know that you cannot afford it. If this is your case, ask about other possible ways that you can help with such as volunteering at your church. Or, at least invite them over when they are free. Also, manage your expectations about a pastor’s services because he might not be able to spend yet another sleepless night with you and your partner.
From this premarital counseling article, we can conclude that pastors may charge for counseling services but if they do, don’t ever feel compelled to pay the pastor. You have a right to say “no”.
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