|My current mansion|
That isn't actually the case where I am now. It's a beautiful large, old house that has been kept up very well. My luck I only get to stay here a couple of years as an interim. It says in the history that the intention when this was built in 1910 to be "the finest parsonage in the ELC" Even now they are very proud of their parsonage. Imagine that, instead of resenting the pastor's house ("humph... I never had a dishwasher"), actually being proud of providing a nice house for your pastor. This is a three point parish (that's three services every Sunday) in a small town where you have to drive an hour and half to get anywhere. But this house outweighs all that and make this a much more attractive call.
But most of the parsonages I have lived in have been sold. One was actually moved away. And I think that's a BIG mistake.
Yes I know most pastors want to own their own home. Yes it would be more advantageous to the pastor tax wise. That double dip housing allowance exemption AND interest deduction is very nice. I used to take a clergy tax seminar every year and he'd always use an example of a pastor owning his own home. This imaginary guy made twice what I did but paid less taxes than me because of the double dip. Yes when I retire I will very likely not be able to buy a house.
But I'm talking about the advantage to the CONGREGATION, not the pastor. Because it's not always about US. I can't speak for churches in large cities, I'm talking about the little church in podunk USA. I interviewed in podunk. They really wanted a pastor in town. There's a lot of advantages to the pastor living in town, seeing folks at the post office, coffee shop, just walking around. But they did not have a parsonage and I could not afford to buy a house. And there were no houses to rent in that small town. And even if I could afford a house I'd be nuts to buy a house that would likely take a LONG time to sell. Who can afford TWO house payments? But they thought it would be a great idea to sell their parsonage a few years back. Oh and the housing allowance they were offering? Not likely to cover a house payment and utilities.
I think the mass selling off of parsonages of small town churches has led to their decline. And I think maybe pastors insisting on the American dream of owning their own home bear some guilt in this. Just saying.