Jump directly to the content
Setting Staff Salaries
Setting Staff Salaries
Churches often fail to count the hidden costs of poor salaries.
PAGE 1 of 7Single Page

Editor’s Note: This is one of five key articles related to church finance that will be unlocked throughout the month of the June. Additionally, with the coupon code "finance17," receive “Surviving Summer with a Balanced Church Budget” for free!

The importance of paying pastors an adequate wage was a lesson learned the hard way early in my ministry. I graduated near the top of my seminary class. I had high hopes of securing a well-paying position, yet my first call was to a mission congregation. To my knowledge, I was offered the lowest salary of anyone in my graduating class. Of course, I accepted the call, failing to realize the impact an inadequate income could have on the morale of me and my family. To use a biblical phrase, I was zealous without knowledge.

Trying to set an example for my flock, I even tithed on this substandard salary.

One Saturday my wife and I were out canvassing the neighborhood on behalf of the church. About noon we decided to stop at Burger King and grab lunch. We were tired and hungry as we stepped up to the counter. After we ordered, we each looked to the other to pay. As we opened our wallets, we realized that neither of us had enough money to pay for our burgers. We left in embarrassment. My wife is a naturally up person and rarely cries. That day she wept.

Unfortunately, similar scenarios occur in churches around the country. Pastors in far too many places are underpaid. Churches often fail to count the hidden costs of poor salaries. Individuals do not work effectively when money is a constant worry. They become resentful, unproductive, and the ministry suffers. Their families bear the scars for years to come.

Now that I'm in a different position, in which I have a bit more influence over my own salary and those of our staff, my philosophy is that pastors should be free from money worries, as much as possible, so they can concentrate on ministry.

We don't want to overpay or underpay. We don't want anyone to stay at our church only because they couldn't get the same salary elsewhere. Likewise, we don't want anyone to leave solely on account of money. We seek to remove money as a preoccupation.

Our goal is to keep productive and hard-working staff free from humiliating circumstances such as those my wife and I experienced early on in our ministry. Not incidentally, our staff turnover rate has been small through the years.

A difficult question
This is not to say that arriving at a proper wage for a pastor or staff member is always an easy process. In times of economic downturn or recession, the problem can become even more difficult.

Posted:
January 29, 2014
View All
from our store
2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff

2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff

Compare your salary and benefit plans with thousands of other church workers nationwide.
Church Finance

Church Finance

Learn about budgeting, financial reporting, tax compliance, insurance coverage, and more
Essential Guide to Church Budgeting

Essential Guide to Church Budgeting

Good budgeting will help your church stay financially healthy.
Immigration & the Church

Immigration & the Church

Help with determining how to proceed legally with the issue of immigration