How Much Are Pastors Earning These Days?

How much are the pastors of Protestant churches nationwide earning these days?

The chart below shows the national averages for compensation and benefits earned by full-time senior pastors, based on Christianity Today's biannual survey of 4,600 churches nationwide. The survey provided valuable, detailed data on 13 church staff positions (including compensation levels based on personnel characteristics like years employed, denomination, region, gender, and education) for the 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff.

Among the findings of the survey: Senior pastors reported salaries and benefits that, on average, were 2.7 percent higher than those reported for the preceding 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff:

Two important things to note:

  1. Actual take-home pay for pastors may be much different, perhaps far less, because 84 percent of senior pastors say they receive a housing allowance that accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation.
  2. As the text with the graphic indicates, church leaders should take multiple factors into account before setting pay levels, and shouldn't use national averages as their only sources of information. The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook provides calculation worksheets for each of the 13 positions; these are designed to walk church leaders through their church's setting and the staff member's unique characteristics to highlight relevant data that will more accurately identify what pay ranges should be considered.

How do these numbers compare to your church's situation? Were raises possible in 2011? Are raises on the horizon in 2012?

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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