About ten years ago our church was planning a Praise and Worship Conference.  We invited a speaker who is well known and gifted to minister in the area of praise and worship.  We were excited when he accepted our invitation but when we received a contract, we were taken aback.  This was a first for us.  The contract literally sat on my desk for a few days because our pastor was trying to decide what he wanted to do.  We didn’t know how to take it.  Eventually, we agreed to the terms and signed the contract.

There was nothing outrageous in the contract, it just caught us by surprise.  At the time we had grown to a membership of about 500 and were accustomed to inviting a speaker and giving him (or her) an honorarium that we deemed appropriate.

About a year later our pastor was invited to a small rural church in another state.  We purchased our plane tickets, were taken to a motel and prepared for the three day revival that Pastor was asked to preach.  At the end of the three days, Pastor was presented with a very small honorarium and the church said they didn’t realize they had to reimburse his plane fare.  They did  provide dinner each evening, but no arrangements or per diem was made available for breakfast and lunch.  Obviously if we were staying at a motel, there was no restaurant on site.

At the time, as his personal assistant, I traveled with Pastor when he had speaking engagements.  My job was to take care of pastor, the business end of things and our ministry products.  Even though my expenses were generally paid by the host church, I didn’t mention my expenses.  Nor did I say anything about the honorarium and meals.  I did, however, talk with them about Pastor’s air fare, which they paid.

After this incident, we understood why some ministers require a contract.  While we still don’t require a contract, we make sure it is understood that Pastor’s air fare, hotel and meals should be provided by the host church.  We leave the honorarium up to the host church.  Sometimes it is small, sometimes it is very generous.  It averages out.

If your ministry has never received a contract from a minister or psalmist there are a few basic things that might be included:

  • Travel – This part of the contract will specify travel preferences.  It may require the host church to make the travel arrangements or specify how to reimburse the flight.  If traveling by automobile, the contract may give a travel fee.  It may also require travel reimbursement for a ministry assistant who travels with the guest.
  • Local Transportation – The contract may give some particulars about being picked up from the airport and hotel.  It may request a certain size or type of vehicle.
  • Hotel – A certain type of hotel may be requested either by way of hotel rating ( 3, 4 or 5 star) or a specific hotel may be requested.  Some contracts may simply say a “full service hotel.”
  • Honorarium – Some contracts give a range and some give a specific amount the speaker/singer expects to be paid and when they want to receive the payment.
  • Ministry Products – If your guest brings ministry products to sell, they may request a certain space and someone to help with the products.  The contract may also point out that sales from products will not be deducted from the requested honorarium.

Most of the contracts we receive are reasonable.  Occasionally we receive one that is not; it is up to the ministry to accept the contract or not.  If we think the contract is unreasonable and we still want the person to minister for us, we will try to negotiate the part(s) of the contract with which we disagree.  If we can’t come to an agreement, we gracefully back out and don’t sign the contract.

Basically, the purpose of the contract is to ensure that the guest receives fair compensation for their ministry and they are comfortable during their trip and their stay with the host ministry.

Related Reading:

How to Host a Guest Speaker

Go the Extra Mile for Ministry Guests

10 Ways to Make Out of Town Speakers Feel Welcome at Your Church

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2 Responses to “Why Some Ministers Require A Contract”

  1. Hello,
    I enjoy your site,however I would like to know if there are some teaching or training on becoming a ministry personal assistant, not so much an armorbearer, but more of a personal assistant or event a virtual assistant?

  2. Lavonna,

    The term personal assistant is just that – personal. The responsibilities are defined by the employer and can include a variety of duties: administrative, armor bearer or personal. Some churches call their armor bearers personal assistants; some personal assistants have administrative duties; some personal assistants run errands; and some are a combination of all of these.

    If you are talking about an administrative type personal assistant, that training would be the same as a good administrative assistant or office manager. I am a firm believer that your gifts and talents determine your ministry calling. Before becoming personal assistant for my pastor, I had worked over 20 years in a Fortune 500 company as an executive assistant. Same skill set, different place.

    I hope this helps.