The subject of pastors' salaries can be somewhat difficult to discuss. It is, or at least can be, a highly emotional topic. Also, we often have very different presuppositions underlying our positions on the topic. A profitable discussion would really require going over that ground first.
I have noticed several misconceptions about the position that a pastor should not have a salary -- that it is motivated by love of money; that the 'salaried' preacher is free to preach the truth while the 'unsalaried' one is dependent on the good will of the people; that pastors must have a salary from the church to eat, pay bills, put children through college, etc. But I can point to some churches that only give freewill offerings to their pastors that actually give more money to their pastors than some churches of similar size and condition that pay set salaries give to theirs -- so it must not just be love of money. I can point to some salaried preachers that have comfortable positions and wouldn't dare mess that up, while also pointing to some unsalaried ones who preach their convictions to their church -- so it must not just be one-sided as to which preacher might shade the truth to maintain 'the good will of the people.' I can point to some preachers that have never received a salary and yet have paid their bills, fed & clothed their children, and even sent them to college -- and who might be said to have out-labored some men who had those things provided for them by their congregations. These are practical matters, and practical problems in the ministry reside on both sides of the "salary fence." They do not settle the question.
On occasion I have read salary advocates just throw I Corinthians 9, Galatians 6, and I Timothy 5 on the table and say "these are our scriptures, you need to deal with them." They are God's Word, and both sides must deal with them! There are some things that must be considered in these passages by those who support setting a salary for a pastor. Such as, in I Cor. 9:14, et. al. -- where are pastors (elders, bishops) found in the context of the passage? What does living of the gospel mean? How were the priests supported - salaries or freewill offerings? How does an apostle's refusal to use this right, but rather setting a model of self-support for elders (cf. Acts 20:34,35) fit your interpretation? Or, in I Tim. 5:17 -- if honor means a set salary, does double honor mean pay a double set salary? Have you considered that Timothy was in Ephesus and they had a plurality of elders? Did all of them receive a double salary? What about the possible division of labours of elders - elders that rule well, and elders especially who labour in word and doctrine? Or, in Gal. 6:6 - does "all good things" inherently mean a set salary? If it means a "set salary" from the one taught to the one who teaches, does that include a salary to itinerant ministers, radio preachers, etc.? If not, why not? If so, who will set their salaries? The point here is that these passages are not cut-and-dried proof of salaries for ministers as some have supposed.
As I stated above, there are often some radical differences of approach to church & ministry among those who hold that pastors should be paid salaries, and those who hold that pastors should not be paid salaries (or, in some cases, should not be paid). For example, for one the "ministry" is a full-time position, while to the other it is a part-time position (these terms may do as much to obscure as enlighten, but they are the common terms). In one approach, few could conceive of operating without a budget; in the other approach, few could conceive of why a church would need a budget. For one, the pastor is expected to fulfill numerous obligations; for the other, the obligation is teaching/preaching by several pastors.
We must be careful to not read our own practice back into the New Testament. The use of certain verses to support the salary system, IMO, does not take into account the commonality of things in the church at Jerusalem; the poverty common to the early churches; the plurality of pastors in these churches; the self-support not only practiced by Paul and others, but also given as a model to the elders; the fact that Paul's self-support was not an isolated incident; the difference between the function of apostles & itinerants and elders; and the pattern of local elders being raised up within the churches to serve those churches. Though I'm sure neither side could prove satisfactorily to the other, it is highly unlikely that any support mentioned in the scriptures, received by the apostles and evangelists, would approach anything which we would recognize as a salary.
Though Paul proves the right of apostles and other traveling ministers to be supported by the churches, He chose not to use this right (I Cor. 9). Paul chose to set a pattern for the elders to follow in their ministry (Acts 20:33-35) -- not only to support themselves, but others as well. Paul was setting patterns and examples that he expected others to follow (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1 cf. with Acts 20:35). In a correspondence on this subject several years ago, I made this statement to another preacher, "There seems to be a deliberate tension in the scriptures - on the one hand exhorting churches to support the ministry, and, on the other hand, urging ministers to be self-supporting." I still think there is truth in that statement, and believe the tension is why many good people can read the Scriptures on these matters and come to such different conclusions.
One thing on which I think most of us could agree, though, is that churches concerned with how little they can give and pastors concerned with how much they can make are both contrary to the Scriptures.
It is unfortunate that many people cannot understand the difference between the position of the early church practice as normative and the idea of walking in sandals to a meeting house without electricity. I and others who take the position are as much to blame in failing to explain it as they are in failing to understand it. By the statement "New Testament (or early church) practice is normative" I mean that it lays down a model or standard. In my opinion, we find not only our theology of doctrine in the New Testament, but also our theology of practice.
1. All may not apply the idea consistently, almost all do apply it on occasion. For example, most Baptists would feel that it is necessary to form their church government after the New Testament pattern, despite the fact that no command says they must do so.
2. The call to New Testament practice as normative is not a call to return to the culture of the first century (lighting with candles, wearing tunics and sandals, traveling by foot, horseback & wagon, etc.), nor does it regard everything as practiced in the New Testament era to be binding or as being errorless.
3. The call to New Testament practice as normative recognizes that everything the apostles expected the churches to practice was not couched in the language of command, but that they also clearly set examples they expected to be followed (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1-2; cf. v.16; 14:33; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thess. 1:6-7; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 2:2).
4. The call to New Testament practice as normative looks for distinctive apostolic practices and patterns, that were (a) not just rooted in the culture of the day, (b) not just rooted in the religion[s] of the day, (c) common to the churches [iow, not an isolated case], (d) rooted in and consistent with the teachings of the apostles.
5. The call to New Testament practice as normative is held to be generally binding by some (like myself), while others only hold that it is the most beneficial and more conducive to the carrying on of the work of the church.
6. The call to New Testament practice as normative questions why we would assume our methods are more effective than the apostolic pattern, and defers to the wisdom of the inspired apostles. Our question is not "why do we have to do it the way the apostles did," but rather "why do we want to do it some other way?"
If New Testament practice (as explained above) is not normative, there is very little point in discussing whether or not pastors should be paid a salary. From my limited study of the Reformation, I would conclude that one of the main differences between the Reformers and the Radicals (such as the Anabaptists) was that the Anabaptists believed the apostolic practice was normative. I would argue also that much of what distinguishes Baptists from other Christian groups is not based on explicit commands, but is derived from implied conclusions and inspired examples. If New Testament practice is not normative, then perhaps Baptists are irrelevant.
If a church requires all of a man's time (that is, so much that he could not work elsewhere) how could they expect to do any less than pay him a full time salary? But should they do so? Should they allow him to do so? IMO, this is contrary to the scriptural idea of the church as a family, a community and a functioning body. The idea is not to have one man (or a few) minister to the needs of everyone else, but that they should serve one another, each contributing his/her own special gift to the edification of the entire body.
An example of how our presuppostions lead and mislead us can be found in Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays. They write, "We are separated from the biblical audience by culture and customs, language, situation, and a vast expanse of time." (p. 19). But they do not say that we also have things in common with that audience. Duvall and Hays urge us to ask, "What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?" But they do not urge us to ask, "What are the similarities between the biblical audience and us?" Will failing to ask both sides of these questions not possibly slant us toward a particular conclusion? Close inspection reveals a possible bias slanted toward one type of conclusion.
Again, I think the main separation of the positions of whether to pay or not pay salaries is one of a difference in our doctrine and philosophy of ministry. Yes, there may be the peripheral issues -- loving money, etc. -- but those are only sidelights. There are plenty of people on both sides that have a love of money. Perhaps we should explore this philosophy of ministry some more.