Editor's Note: The 2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staffis now available. This resource details pay and benefits data for 15 church positions. Each position is analyzed based on a variety of criteria, including education, experience, church size, and geography. The resource also includes step-by-step worksheets to help churches tailor compensation based on their unique circumstances.
The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, Christianity Today's bi-annual survey of compensation levels based on 4,600 participating churches, shows senior pastors' salary and benefits at an average $82,938 this year. This represents a 2.7 percent increase from the $80,745 average reported in 2010.
Senior pastors rank at the top in total compensation plus benefits for church staff. (See the "Top 7 Paid Full-Time Positions in Church.")
In general, as church income and worship attendance increase, compensation and benefits also increase.
While a salary in the $80,000 range looks good on paper, actual take-home pay for pastors may be much different, perhaps far less. The average base salary of a full-time senior pastor ranges from $33,000 to $70,000. Eighty-four percent of senior pastors say they also receive a housing allowance, which accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation.
The graphic below highlights the breakdown of salary and benefits senior pastors receive.
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