Jump directly to the Content

How to Start the Salary Negotiation Process

Tips for approaching conversations about compensation.

Church staff and pastors are often great at dealing with people, but they aren’t always great at dealing with money. That’s especially true when it comes to negotiating their own compensation, says David Fletcher, executive pastor of First Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton, California.

We talked with Fletcher, who is also the founder of XPastor.org—a resource for executive pastors—about how church staff members and pastors can deal with the tricky issue of compensation.

What should church staff members keep in mind when they’re negotiating compensation?

Assess what kind of hiring team you are talking to. Have they never hired a pastor? Or did they hire a pastor or church staffer in the last year? That makes a big difference. They may not know how to talk about compensation, or they may feel awkward about it. So situation awareness is key.

When is the best time to talk about compensation?

After the first interview, check and make sure [you] are all in the same ballpark by asking, “What is the salary range?” If they can’t tell you, then ask if they could have that information for the next call.

Are there certain things to say in the negotiation process that will help?

The words I like to use are: “I work for a nonprofit organization. I am not a nonprofit.” If you want to work [with] me, I want to know if you will take care of me.

How can pastors or church staffers know how much to ask for?

Find out what it is going to take to live in the city where the job is located. Go and look at the publicly posted salaries of schoolteachers. Look for other comparable jobs. Then look at your assets: your degree and experience. Then you can go in thinking, This is what I should be earning in that community.

Any other advice?

Be brave and have the conversation. The worst they can do is not hire you. And who does a church really want to hire? Someone who is brave enough to have the conversation? Or someone who avoids difficult conversations?

Want to learn more about negotiating compensation? Check out this article, and be sure to check out ChurchSalary.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold 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.

Related Topics:
  • February 9, 2018

Related ResourcesVisit Store

How Churches Spend Their Money: 2019 Executive Report
How Churches Spend Their Money: 2019 Executive Report
This report will give you an inside look at how churches nationwide spend their money.
Church Compensation - Second Edition
Church Compensation - Second Edition
From Strategic Plan to Compliance
Smart Money for Church Salaries
Smart Money for Church Salaries
This resource takes you on a journey through real-life case studies to uncover compensation issues and navigate their solutions.
The 2019 State of Church Compensation Report
The 2019 State of Church Compensation Report
Data and statistics about the state of church compensation in the U.S. for 2019.