Then be prepared to demonstrate your value as an employee. Have you taken on more responsibilities in your role? How has your ministry increased over the last year? What expectations and goals have you exceeded? Come to the conversation prepared to explain the work you’ve accomplished over a certain period of time.
David Miller, lead coaching associate at church staffing organization Slingshot Group, echoes this advice. Miller coaches pastors and other church employees during initial job offers, as well as during salary negotiations. He says it’s very common to talk to pastors, especially young ones, who feel they deserve a raise simply for sticking with a job for a year or more. “But their ministry isn’t growing,” says Miller. For getting a raise, often “it comes down to ‘why do you deserve this?’”
Tell your supervisor about how your ministry has grown before you sit down to talk about a raise, Miller advises. Keep them informed about the positive changes and updates in your ministry prior to the conversation so that it’s not a surprise.
Have the Right Timing
Timing is also crucial. Miller advises church employees to ask for a raise when church leaders are working on a new budget or near the end of a budget cycle—not during a season of bad giving or during employee reviews. “Typically people aren’t setting their budget around review time,” said Miller. “I actually think that is a time to plant seeds, but [it’s] probably not a time to ask for the raise.”
Jane Barratt, a personal finance coach, also advises that waiting to discuss your raise until review time or budget season is a mistake. By making your desire for a raise known sooner rather than later, you give the organization a better shot of being able to budget for an increased expense.
Say It the Right Way
Miller also stresses the importance of relational skills when approaching this conversation. He believes the posture in which you ask for a raise is just as important as the words you say. This can begin by asking to have the conversation at an appropriate time and when your supervisor is ready. “I think you should come in prepared to be very positive,” says Miller. Employees should explain what they enjoy their role and their church community—and show that they’re not working there simply for a paycheck.
William Vanderbloemen—founder and CEO of church staffing group Vanderbloemen Search Group, which works with churches like Willow Creek and Life Church—says a salary negotiation is the time to keep the mission of your church first.
“If your boss feels like you’re more concerned about pay than you are [about] advancing the mission and vision of the church, your negotiation will not end in your favor,” said Vanderbloemen.
He also encourages church employees to approach the conversation with respect for their supervisor: “the Bible reminds us to respect those in authority over us. That includes your boss, even if you don't like him or her. Compensation meetings can be your prime opportunity to show respect without being fake.”