Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I recently heard a speaker talk about four different ways we have in America to make money. First, we can be employed where we get a set pay for a set job. Second, we can be self-employed…at least then we are our own boss. Third, we can invest. And fourth, we can come up with a business venture that makes money for us while we are doing other things. So that got me thinking…

Outside of the paycheck I get for being the pastor here at Grace Church, my only other means of income happens through honorariums I receive for officiating weddings and funerals. Now, everyone knows that funeral homes and wedding chapels bring in a good amount of cash flow today by offering the opportunity for people to pre-pay some of their expenses in these areas. What if I did the same thing?

What if I offered a 10% discount to those who will pay me in advance to officiate their wedding or funeral? For example, if the going rate is a $150.00 honorarium to do the pre-marital counseling and ceremony for a bride and a groom, people could save $15.00 bucks by paying me now…even if their not engaged or dating anyone (did you hear that Matt McElravy?). Hey, this could really be a great deal for a father with multiple children. If you have 6 kids, you just saved $75.00 by pre-paying (or about 18 gallons of free gasoline)! And if the going rate is a $100.00 honorarium to preach a funeral, then you can save ten bucks by writing me that check today. And I can be like the insurance agent and offer that if you choose to go through me for both these services and pre-pay both honorariums now, I will give you an additional 10% discount. That means that if you pre-pay me to officiate both your wedding and funeral you will be saving $50.00!

Now, let me do the math. $25,000.00 a year for college multiplied by 4 years equals $100,000.00. Multiply this by two kids and my cost to get my kids through college is $200,000.00. We better be safe and add another 25% for inflation over the next 6 years and my total cost for my kids’ higher education is sitting roughly at $250,000.00.

Now, if I can get 1,000 people to pre-pay for a wedding honorarium, I would get $135,000.00. If I can add to that another 1,000 people to pre-pay me today for a funeral honorarium, I would get an additional $90,000.00. And if I can get 500 additional people on top of that to pre pay for both so they can get the additional 10% savings, I would bring in an additional $100,000.00. That would then total $325,000.00. When I pay roughly 25% of that in taxes that leaves me $243,750.00. That leaves me $6,250 short. I guess the kids can take a student loan for that amount or Laura can get a job!

Obviously, this is all in jest. The truth is that I have no set honorarium amounts for officiating weddings, funerals or for speaking engagements outside the church. To me, this is all part of ministry and the fruit that comes from investing in people’s lives is the best pay of all. Any honorarium I get is just “icing on the cake.” But wait…I could also offer house blessings at $75.00 a pop. Pre-pay me today and I’ll only charge $67.50.

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