A Breakdown of Salaries and Benefits for Senior Pastors

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.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

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