Eleven months. My first job as a full-time youth pastor only lasted eleven months. And while it was nobody’s fault and not because of any wrongdoing, my rapid rise and untimely release was painful, not only for me and my fresh calling, but for the students and their families that I had created spiritual bonds with.
In the decade-plus since then, I’ve seen many endings for other youth pastors, who were quitting, facing hard or wrongful endings and painful tears. Many of these endings are in one way or another tied to compensation, where churches are notorious for overworking and underpaying youth pastors.
But before you write me off as a disgruntled employee begging for another penny in the offering plate, read the statistics below. Because the numbers don’t lie.
The 2019 Youth Pastor Compensation Survey Results published by The Youth Cartel and YPCompPros.com paints a picture of some surprising pain points for the career of a youth pastor that every church should pay attention to—below are the top five.
1. Even in 2019, men earn more than women
Our data among over 2,000 respondents revealed that there is a 12.8 percent wage gap between men and women in the church—with three times more male youth pastors than female—revealing a staggering bias towards men in the industry. That means if a man is earning $100, his female counterpart earns $87.20 for the same job.
There are glimmers of hope for change in this year’s results; one being that in 2018, our data shows women being hired at 106 percent the wage of men! However, the raises come larger and more frequently for male youth pastors. If you’re a 20 plus year veteran of youth ministry and female, our data says you are earning 78 percent of a man with the same tenure. This doesn’t exactly incentivize women to pursue a career loving teenagers.
2. The turnover rate is real and the pressure is high
More than half of our respondents reported being hired at their current position in the last three years or less. Half. That means 50 percent of the students at the churches represented by our survey have experienced the trauma of losing their youth pastor and getting a new one between the start and finish of high school. Many will have 3 youth pastors between starting junior high and leaving home for college.
And youth pastors receive pressure from more than just the turnover of their jobs.
- 25 percent are also taking classes (either undergrad or graduate)
- 70 percent have over $10,000 in school loans and about 30 percent have over $30,000