Is it scriptural to look at a Pastor as the “First Missionary” out of a local church (especially in regard to how well the local church takes care of him and his family)?”
Yes, and no.
YES, it is the churches’ responsibility to support its Pastor. 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says, “17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” 1 Corinthians 9:7-14 says, “7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Those Pastors who faithfully preach the gospel, should live of a portion of the offerings of that local church.
NO, the Pastor is not a substitute for supporting missionaries. Numbers 18:26 shows us that the priests were supported by the tithes of God’s people, but then they were told to tithe back to the Lord from that amount. “Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.” This principle applied to the local New Testament church is that the church receives the tithes of God’s people, but then should take the minimum of a tithe of that amount and give it back to God. How does the local church give ten percent back to God, without giving it directly back to themselves again? That is accomplished by giving to God’s work outside of their own locality, and that means giving to missionaries and mission works.
No matter how rough times may get financially, we are to personally tithe. Malachi 3:8-10 says, “8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” God promises to bless us if we will obey Him in that (see tract: https://libertygospeltracts.com/tracts/Bank%20Robber/bankrobber.htm). God can take what is left and multiply it to meet our needs. Things were very tight for the widow woman in Mark 12:41-44: “41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” The widow did not put an I.O.U. into the offering plate, nor did she take part in signing a pledge or commitment card from the “Faith Missions Conference.” She simply gave of what she had, which was not much. But Jesus said that she really gave more than all of those rich men. They were giving of their abundance, but she was giving all the money that she had – money that she needed to live on that week. That is truly “faith giving” – giving of what you have, and then trusting the Lord to supply your needs. See the Bible Course that deals with “Faith Promise Giving,” and see how corrupt and unscriptural that whole system really is “https://libertygospeltracts.com/biblecrs/money2/money1.htm”.
No matter how tight times may get for the local church, whatever money does come in, should have a tenth taken out of it and given to missions. Paul, a missionary, wrote to the Philippian Church who had been supporting him, in Philippians 4:15-19, “15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Just like we are to personally give the minimum of a tenth to the Lord, no matter how much or how little money we make in a week, even so the local church, following that same principle, should give the minimum of a tenth to missionaries and mission works from the money it receives. This means that missionaries will never be dropped from the local church support list because times are tough. If times are tough, then the amount that they receive from the local church may be diminished, but never totally cut off. When times are tough, it is never right to say, “The Pastor is our first obligation, so we have to cut out supporting missionaries until we get through this tough time.” That is not a Scriptural thing to do. If times are tough, then the Pastor must also learn to live by faith, and make do with diminished support, just like the missionaries.