10 Fascinating Facts about Pastor and Church Staff Compensation
10 Fascinating Facts about Pastor and Church Staff Compensation

By almost any metric, pastors and church staff are not overpaid.

While some ministry leaders provide sensational exceptions to this rule, we need to dispel the myth of highly-compensated pastors and church staff.

I have in my hands one of the best statistical resources for ministry in the world. I am deeply grateful for the years of work of Richard Hammar, especially his latest statistical tome: 2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff.

This incredible volume belongs in every church. I have distilled some of the facts from the nearly 400-page book:

1.Church income is the number one indicator for compensation levels for all church staff. The larger the financial receipts, the greater the likelihood of higher compensation for all staff.

2. The highest paying positions in order are pastor, executive pastor, and worship/music leader. The growth of the executive pastor position is a major church trend of the past decade. It deserves greater study.

3.Church staff compensation varies by type of community. The rank of compensation level is: large city suburb; city/urban; small town; and farming/rural.

4. Education is still a factor in compensation. For lead pastors, pay increases about 9 percent from bachelors to masters, and 10 percent from masters to doctorate.

5. Fewer than two-thirds of lead pastors receive health insurance as a benefit. Lead pastors are full-time with at least one other minister on staff.

6. One half of all pastors did not receive a raise in the past year. This discovery was another surprise.

7.Compensation varies little with length of tenure for all staff positions. More experience does not necessarily mean higher compensation.

8.Churches in mainline denominations tend to offer higher compensation to their pastors and staff. The Assemblies of God offered the lowest compensation of the denominations studied.

9.Youth pastor compensation does not change significantly from smaller to larger churches. In fact, the average compensation does not change at all past 750 in average worship attendance.

10.Female full-time children/preschool ministers make 14% more than their male counterparts. This fact surprised me. I really want to dig into it more.

This post was adapted from an article that first appeared at ThomRainer.com on February 10, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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