By almost any metric, pastors and church staff are not overpaid.
While some ministry leaders provide sensational exceptions to this rule, we need to dispel the myth of highly-compensated pastors and church staff.
I have in my hands one of the best statistical resources for ministry in the world. I am deeply grateful for the years of work of Richard Hammer, especially his latest statistical tome: 2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff. I am likewise grateful to the publisher, Church Law and Tax, a ministry of Christianity Today.
This incredible volume belongs in every church. I have been trying to distill some of the facts from the nearly 400-page book. You might find the following factoids fascinating:
- Church income is the number one indicator for compensation levels for all church staff. The larger the financial receipts, the greater the likelihood of higher compensation for all staff.
- The highest paying positions in order are pastor, executive pastor, and worship/music leader. The growth of the executive pastor position is a major church trend of the past decade. It deserves greater study.
- Church staff compensation varies by type of community. The rank of compensation level is: large city suburb; city/urban; small town; and farming/rural.
- Education is still a factor in compensation. For lead pastors, pay increases about 9 percent from bachelors to masters, and 10 percent from masters to doctorate.
- Fewer than two-thirds of lead pastors receive health insurance as a benefit. Lead pastors are full-time with at least one other minister on staff.
- One half of all pastors did not receive a raise in the past year. This discovery was another surprise.
- Compensation varies little with length of tenure for all staff positions. More experience does not necessarily mean higher compensation.
- Churches in mainline denominations tend to offer higher compensation to their pastors and staff. The Assemblies of God offered the lowest compensation of the denominations studied.
- Youth pastor compensation does not change significantly from smaller to larger churches. In fact, the average compensation does not change at all past 750 in average worship attendance.
- Female fulltime children/preschool ministers make 14% more than their male counterparts. This factoid surprised me. I really want to dig into it more.
Next week I will look at the benefits church staff receive. In the meantime, let me hear from you.