The Top 7 Paid Positions at Churches

Editor's Note: The 2014-2015 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff is now available. This resource details pay and benefits data for 14 church positions, including two new ones–part-time musician and part-time childcare provider. 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. In the weeks and months ahead, watch for graphics and short articles highlighting trends and other broad developments from the latest data.

Which positions in the church pay best for men and women?

Results from Christianity Today's biannual survey of 4,600 churches nationwide, which are featured in the new 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, reveal the top 7 paid positions based on gender.

Male or female, it pays to be the senior pastor. However, male senior pastors typically are compensated more than their female counterparts. Some of this may be explained on the basis of church income, which proved to be the biggest factor affecting compensation and benefits in the study. For example, in churches with male senior pastors, church income (i.e. revenue) averages about $710,000, while church income where women serve as senior pastors hovers at about $487,000. This gap in revenue could explain, in part, why women senior pastors tend to be paid less.

Male executive pastors earn nearly 50 percent more than women in this same role. Additionally, even though women make up 69 percent of full-time children's pastors, men serving in this role full-time earn nearly $12,000 more on average than women.

The gender pay gap closes for solo pastors. Although 92 percent of solo pastors are men (paid an average of $57,452), they earn only slightly more than women solo pastors (paid an average of $54,102).

Across all paid church positions, men are compensated 28 percent more than women holding the same positions. Although factors such as church income may explain some of this disparity in pay, churches need to be mindful of compensating employees fairly and without gender bias.

The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff provides valuable, detailed data on 13 church staff positions (including compensation levels based on personnel characteristics like years employed, denomination, region, gender, and education).

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."


Displaying 1–6 of 6 comments

Scott Brown

March 05, 2013  9:20am

In some cases Paul states that he says and then he states that He, not God says. In other words he differentiates between what God has said on certain things things and how he, Paul, feels about other things that God has not been specific about. I think that God would not have used Esther to instruct her king about treachery in the kingdom and Deborah if it was against His principles.

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October 09, 2012  3:14am

O.K., I'll say it, Paul taught the following: 1 Tim 2:12 "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." The pay difference is a reflection that any church that has a woman pastor is defying Paul's teaching. I'm sure this with go over well with everyone.

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February 21, 2012  6:49pm

I have to admit the emphasis on the variance due to gender is a pretty dominant point in the article. While I am certain it is factually correct, it seems statistically invalid to put forth conclusions that there is gender bias based solely upon the gender. There are so many other variables that can contribute to a variance to hang it on just gender fosters issues that may or may not be warranted, particularly in this culturally charged environment.

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Mark Simmons

February 21, 2012  12:54pm

I'm sorry, that should have been Ray's observation.

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Mark Simmons

February 21, 2012  12:52pm

To address Michelle's observation. Your observation is true for most vocations (pay being affected by length of time in the career). But in the church pay is primarily driven by church income. Studies like this one have consistently shown length of time to have very little impact on compensation.

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Ray Devore

February 14, 2012  10:12pm

There is nothing in the article about the length of time the man or woman had been in the current position or positions leading up to the current position. In many studies dealing with compensation for men vs. women it is the length of time in the career that has made a big impact on the difference in pay.

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