The following report by David L. Goetz, senior associate editor for Christianity Today's companion publication Leadership journal, summarizes a recent national survey the journal conducted (using Scanland Research, Inc.) of pastors and their finances. The report was published in the Spring 1997 issue of Leadership.
You were young then. While your friends applied to law, medical, or business school, you applied to theological school. Now, years later, your friends drive Eddie Bauer edition Ford Explorers; you drive used, four-door sedans. Your friends take winter vacations in Colorado; you take road trips to your in-laws. Your friends sock away money for their children's college tuition and for retirement; you can do neither adequately.
Just to confirm the obvious, here are several average or median salaries of professionals in 1996: director of engineering: $100,000; school superintendent: $96,229; manufacturing vice-president: $97,000; top executive officer (nonprofit administration): $160,000.
According to the LEADERSHIP survey, while 3 percent of pastors in the survey indicated their salary equaled $75,000 or more, the majority of pastors—60 percent—make between $25,000 and $49,999 a year. The median salary of pastors is about $33,000. That figure includes money pastors are given to spend: base salary, housing and utilities allowances, and an allowance for social security/self-employment tax. It does not include the cost to a church to provide health insurance or other benefits.
Though pastors are weakly paid compared to other professionals, they tend to be generous with their money. They're also in debt. Here are the facts the survey revealed:
—While almost half of pastors say they do not feel financially ...1
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