What Pastors Get Paid
Results from Christianity Today International's latest nationwide research.

Our annual compilation of ministry salaries is out, and this year's tally produced a few surprises:

- If you want to make more money, switch denominations.

- Female solo pastors make more.

- The extra degree is worth the money.

Kevin Miller has a report below.

Our research team here at Christianity Today International just finished surveying more than 2,000 churches, and next month, we'll be releasing the most comprehensive, up-to-date church salary survey we've ever done. While The 2008 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff is at the printer, here is a sneak peek at some results:

1. If you want to earn more, change denominations.

Briefly, if you want to earn more as a senior pastor, become a Presbyterian. If you want to earn more as a youth pastor, become a Baptist.

Presbyterian senior pastors earned the most in our survey - their average salary plus housing/parsonage was $78,000, while Baptist senior pastors earned next to last–$67,000. But virtually the opposite was true for youth pastors. Baptist youth pastors earned near the top–$44,000 in salary plus housing, while Presbyterian youth pastors earned near the bottom–$36,000. Why?

The answer comes from two factors: church income and denominational values.

Our research consistently shows that the biggest single factor in determining any pastor's pay is the church's income. And among churches with senior pastors, Presbyterian churches have the highest-reported church income, so some of that gets passed along to their senior pastors.

But among churches with youth pastors, Baptist churches and Presbyterian churches have virtually identical church income. So they could pay their youth pastors equally, if they wished. Apparently, though, Baptist churches value youth ministry more, because they pay their youth pastors 20 percent more.

2. Female solo pastors earn more than male solo pastors.

Okay, so there aren't many female solo pastors; in American churches responding to our survey, only six percent of solo pastors are women. Still, it's intriguing that female solo pastors reported 10.4 percent higher total compensation. Their average salary was 8.6 percent higher than men's ($49,219 compared to $45,259); and better housing and retirement benefits made up the rest. Why the difference? Why do female solo pastors earn, for total compensation (includes health insurance, retirement, and continuing education), $62,472, when their male counterparts earn $56,558?

My first hypothesis went like this: "Since there are precious few women hired as senior pastors - only 2.5 percent, in our research - women stay in solo pastorates longer, and their longevity leads to higher pay." But that hypothesis doesn't hold up: for solo pastors, the number of years served makes next to no difference in pay.

September 18, 2007

Displaying 1–10 of 32 comments

Anne

January 10, 2008  2:53pm

It is sad, there are plenty of people, common folk who know the Word of God better than many Pastors or Minsiters but going to college and getting a degree makes one earn more money (in the Church). Funny, totally opposite of what Christ intended. To be supported by the Congregation to fulfill a ministerial position is one thing, getting paid for status in the area of brillance is not what God wanted. What a racket, the Christian church is a mine field of invented ways of man.

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gsmith

December 07, 2007  1:42pm

My pastor gets paid an excess of $233,000 a year. He is paid $16,000 per month salary; $400 per week expense allowance, and $1840 per month retirement plan. I am the bookkeeper, I know for sure. I make $1000 per month. He recently requested a raise of better than 50% of his salary. Within two months we are in the read every week. We do not have the resources to pay him this much, but he insist he will not take a pay cut. Our Trustee Board have been reduced to raising money only. The Pastor is in full control of the finances. Our staff secretary, for instance, is paid $1,000 a month for her duties. She is at work every day. The Pastor may come to the church twice a week, including Sundays. When other pastors have Pastor's Anniversary events our pastor sends them from $100 to $2500, and, of course when it's his turn, they do the same. This is beyond my understanding as a Christian.

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Donna

November 01, 2007  8:49pm

It is SAD SAD SAD that there is the mindset that pastors cannot possibly be paid well. It is almost downright disgusting. Pastors should be making MORE than doctors, lawyers, or any of the other worldly occupations. Jesus was NOT a poor man. If you do an in-depth study on this, Jesus was a WEALTHY man. Satan wants us all to believe that pastors and ministers should make nothing...guess why...so that THEY WILL QUIT!! Isn't that what satan wants?? Pay them nothing so they can't afford to stay in it!!! Wake up call church... "Elders who do their work well should be paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching." - 1Timothy 5:17 I know ministers who are wealthy, but yet, OUT OF JEALOUSY, people will cut them down. Yes, that's right, OUT OF A JEALOUS SPIRIT. Those same ministers are GIVING AWAY hundreds of thousands of dollars. When was the last time YOU could say that?? Most people cringe when thinking about giving $20. Are there ministers who squander money? Of course there are!! So because of that, then ALL ministers get lumped into the "greedy" category, when the truth is that MOST are honest and decent and doing HARD WORK for the Lord. Wake up church....it may be YOU that needs help from your pastor someday...and if he has ABUNDANCE then maybe you will get blessed!!

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Andre

October 23, 2007  12:32pm

I used to be a pastor. I pastored a church for four years in a rural area. The church was small and during my tenure, I earned a M. Div and a M.Ed. I taught school full time and I traveled two hours both ways to preach on sunday. The amount of money I recieved was enough to cover my gas; $400.00 a month. I did not complain because I knew the church was not in a position to do better. (My congragents were all retirees on fixed income. I had twenty faithful members to show up every sunday). I am a little torn about this issue. I believe that pastors should be compensated at the same level as high school principals, managers and execs. However, I think that pastor should base his decision concerning salary based on what the congregation can afford.

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justjim

October 05, 2007  5:42pm

Americans in general have a very inflated sense of how much money it takes to support a family. Even the lowest of presbytery minimums is several times over what the average citizen of the world lives on - and is far above what a lot of Americans get by on, too. I'm afraid too many Presbyterian ministers feel entitled to an upper class lifestyle, and that drives the decisions they make on where to serve as their careers progress.

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Janet

October 04, 2007  12:57pm

Your article makes a comment about one category of pastors in which women earn more than men, but in every other category except one, women are paid significantly less than men. A gross oversight on your might.

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donald blue

October 03, 2007  2:36am

greetings men and brethren; i am also saddened,angry, and disgusted at the blatant,willful neglect of the poor and needy christian brothers and sisters in the usa and around the world-by the organized church and it's greedy pastors. how can we dare to call ourselves followers of JESUS CHRIST when we refuse to obey HIS commandments. we need to, no! we must read the WORD OF GOD and PRAY for strength to make our actions line-up in righteousness with ALMIGHTY GOD and for the GLORY of JESUS CHRIST the SON of GOD. over the past 35yrs. i have seen with my own eyes of how the church has refused to help those who have called out for help and this is a disgrace and a shame and disgusting. it is obvious that in the church world today we are self obsorbed and full of jelousy and out to promote ourselves instead of promoting JESUS. well i had better close for now before i really get wound-up. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL. a true believer in YESHUA–JESUS. don blue

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Chuck Flurry

September 29, 2007  4:32pm

I think the "pay your pastor what teachers with similar experience and schooling in your district are making" is a BAD rule of thumb. Senior pastors have to teach, counsel, preach, financially advise, and manage. Second, pastors work more hours than public school teachers (I'm assuming the two comments were talking about public school teachers). Let the congregation decide what to pay their pastors. If the pastor agrees to serve at that church for that amount of pay, then it is his problem. Otherwise, the pastor can find a new church or find a higher paying job. For the record, I have an M.Div. and serve as a student pastor at a Baptist church and my wife does not work. When I can't support my family because it keeps expanding, then I will find other work, either at another church or secular employment.

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William

September 28, 2007  11:19am

Marshall has a great rule of thumb (pay pastors what teachers in their school district make for the same years of experience and schooling). I've attended large churches in which the minister is paid an amount wildly out of line with that of the average member of his/her church (taking into account education, experience, etc.). I think it can become very difficult to understand the needs and challanges of your congregation when you are that far out of their world.

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trisha

September 26, 2007  2:56pm

I am very shocked, saddened, and extremely angry at the pay discrimination toward women. Especially the family, assistant pastors was upward 20-30% differences. Will the church have the willingness and the heart to take the lead in assuring that their sisters in the Kingdom are payed fairly?

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