September 8, 2010

Cable TV and Other Parsonage Standards

Dear Friends, I recently learned that pastors in New Jersey have as part of their parsonage standards, cable TV and Internet. While that isn't the case in our Tennessee Conference, it started me thinking about how one could change/update the parsonage standards.

In our conference, the must-haves include: energy efficient heating and cooling systems; a stove, refrigerator, dish washer, and dryer; some furniture; window coverings; suitable floor coverings; an adequate lawnmower or lawn service (to be negotiated with the pastor); proper installation, storm windows, and storm doors; a garage or carport; and deadbolts on all exterior doors.

First, what do you think about your parsonage standards? Does your parsonage meet those standards? Do you have what you need for ministry in today's world?

Second, if you wanted to change your parsonage standards, would you know how?

Our first parsonage was seriously lacking in both heating and cooling. The window coverings did not cover; there were no storm windows; and the furniture, such as it was, was pitiful. The people were great, but they seemed not to even know there were standards. Our current parsonage is the polar opposite. It is a lovely house.

How is it with you? What words of wisdom can you share to help make life better for other parsonage families?



  1. Fantastic post, Kathy!

    I'm really interested in this topic despite being in my own home during our current appointment. In our last appointment we lived in a parsonage for 5 years and, as most of us do, I have MANY stories about it's care an upkeep. I thought that once we left a parsonage I would NEVER want to go back. But, given our current economy, I'm more worried about how we will unload our home should we be moved. I'll hope for a parsonage if that happens so we aren't saddled with 2 mortgage payments!

    As for standards in a parsonage... does cable and internet mean they cover the cost of the utility or just that the home is wired for access? It absolutely makes sense that we have easy access to all means of communication so I'd certainly think that should be added as a standard for the TN Conference.

    You've got me thinking about our standards. I'm wondering about accessibility issues, too. What if one member of the clergy family has physical limitations that necessitate a first floor bedroom or....?

  2. The really sad thing is that the specificity of parsonage standards grows out of the gross negligence of many churches to provide housing for pastors that is up to the standard that church members would accept in their own homes. It's like whenever you see a "Deer Crossing" sign on a road, you know some deer have died there. Wherever you see a "parsonage standard", you know some church, probably many churches, have spectacularly failed.