Hey, Fletch: What’s the Best Way to Structure a Pay Scale?
Tips for building a compensation plan that can grow with your church.
Hey, Fletch: What’s the Best Way to Structure a Pay Scale?
Image: Joshua Ness / Unsplash

In this biweekly column, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.org founder David Fletcher takes on readers’ questions about finances, staffing, communications, and more. Submit your questions using the subject line "Hey, Fletch" to editor@churchlawandtax.com.

I’m in a small church with a few part-time paid staff. We are hoping to grow them into full-time positions over the next two years, plus expand the number of staff. What is the best way to structure a pay scale that a church can grow into on the front end to avoid compensation issues on the back end? How should we pay executive leadership, department heads, department staff, and part-time and hourly workers?

I would recommend a simple compensation guide for your church. The first issue is not part-time versus full-time. The issue needs to be: “What is a fair wage in our community?” You may be in an expensive urbanized area where housing costs are enormous. You may live in a state with no state income tax.

Find out what a high school teacher makes in your community, and try on that salary for size. You may need to scale a teacher’s upwards for what you want to pay senior leaders. Perhaps keep it at the same level for department leaders and scale it downward for assistant pastors. There are lots of variations and variety that you will need to consider.

The great thing about a good compensation guide is that it is scalable. You can modify it in a couple of years, adjust it for inflation, or add new positions.

Make sure your church’s compensation plan is reasonable and fair with our ChurchSalary tool and the 2018 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff—and participate in the National Church Compensation Survey to help churches across the country set equitable pay.

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.

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