Surprising Trends on Church Pay

A friend of mine who serves as an associate pastor for a local church emailed last week to see when our 2014-2015 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff would release. The reason: "I wanted to know if it will be available for our salary calculations this budget season."

Most churches spend half–or more–of their budgets on salaries and benefits for their pastors and staff. Like my friend, many of you will face critical decisions related to compensation in the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks to the diligent work of our team, this resource is already shipping. Fourteen different positions–including newly added data for part-time musicians and part-time childcare providers–are analyzed by a variety of factors, including education, experience, church size, and geography. Included are step-by-step worksheets to help churches tailor this data for their unique circumstances.

We found a number of surprising developments from the latest data. Among them:

  • Significant raises for senior pastors.
  • A surprising shift in the housing benefits provided to youth pastors.
  • Nearly two in five churches report earning an income that exceeds their expenses, a 44-percent increase over two years ago. An equal number (38 percent) report earning an income that meets their expenses this year. This is good for staff members because, on average, 48 percent of a churches' income/budget is devoted to salaries.
  • One in four full-time custodians received auto reimbursements in 2013, nearly double that reported in the previous study.

The January edition of Church Finance Today will include additional coverage on the significant findings. Order the 2014-2015 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff to learn the complete details.

As you evaluate these personnel costs, do you find yourself unsure of where to start? If so, check out Dan Busby's article on how churches can maximize tax-free and tax-deferred benefits for pastors and staff. You can also review our Professional Pack on employment, a collection of downloadable resources that covers compensation-setting, wage-and-hour laws, handbooks, and more.

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."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


If you found this article helpful, subscribe to for access to more articles like this one.

Become a Church Law & Tax Member



Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.

Church Governance

Church Governance Member access only

What leaders must know to conduct legally sound church business
Juvenile Offenders in the Church

Juvenile Offenders in the Church Member access only

How to protect children from juveniles who sexually abuse other children.