Protestant Pastors' Residences Not On Site

I was driving home last night and passed by our church, St. Thomas Aquinas CC, and it occurred to me, “Do Protestant pastors typically live on the church grounds?” I don’t believe they do, but I wasn’t sure it was a universal experience.

Then it occurred to me, of course they wouldn’t, because the elders/deacons/board members probably hire someone new every so often and don’t want to have to kick the outgoing pastor out of a job and a residence. It gives them a little distance.

Then it occurred to me, is there a real pressure for protestant pastors to preach about nice things in their sermons and avoid offensive things (eg. abortion) so that they can stay employed? A Catholic priest may preach on the hard truths and not have to worry about losing his job. He may get a call from the bishop in response to some nasty letters from the parishioners to the chancery, but the priest can easily defend himself if he is teaching faithfully. A Baptist preacher would just have to stand by his conscience even though the board of elders say that they and the congregation disagree with him and don’t want to hear anymore on those topics.

If this is the case, what is the future of protestantism?

Another thought, who owns the property of a non–denominational church? Not the pastor and not “the diocese” of non-denominationalism. Who owns the property of a Baptist church? The SBC? In Catholicism, doesn’t the diocese own church property?

Just my rambling thoughts…

In the UMC, all parsonages are on church property, which may or may not be on-site. All property is held in trust; the UMC owns all church property.

UMC pastors are not hired or employed - they are appointed by a bishop.

I’ve never felt pressured to preach about anything; whatever the lectionary reading is for a Sunday is what is preached about. Sometimes, that has lead to sermons against abortion, capital punishment, use/misuse of wealth - all tough topics.

In older days, the parsonage was usually next to the church. Over time, that practice has changed to keep pastors (and their families, if they have one) from the “fish bowl” effect and allowing them some privacy. In some larger churches where longer pastoral tenures often occur, a church gives a housing allowance in lieu of a parsonage, so that a pastor can buy his own house. One problem is that many pastors have little or no equity when they retire, and thus no house to live in or money to buy/build one.

As far as the future of Protestantism… I’m led to think in much broader terms: what about the future of Christianity?! America is becoming increasingly secular and individualistic… mirroring Europe in many ways. And that’s not a good thing - a British Methodist who was here for a parish/pulpit swap says he sees American Christians quickly going the route of British Christians.

That’s a thought worth rambling over.


A lot of Protestant churches are abandoning their Rectories/Manses/Parsonages for simple reason. When it comes time to move on the Cleric is left with empty hands.

Most Protestant churches now (I am unfamiliar with the UMC policies here) are now giving their clerics a generous housing allowance that is used to make house payments. Now when a Minister moves on he has equity.

thanks for the responses.

I was surprised how little i knew about protestant church day-to-day activities and their ways of doing things.

i’m glad to see that they are looking out for their leaders.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit