What Percentage of Budget is Average for Salaries

by Bob

What is the average % of salaries in a church budget?

vickey's reply

There is no "easy" answer!

Dan Busby, CPA, states in his "Church and Nonprofit Tax and Financial Guide" that employees of churches may receive reasonable compensation for their efforts. Excessive compensation can result in private inurnment and may jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the church.

Reasonable compensation is based on what would ordinarily be paid for like services by a like organization under similar circumstances.

So a new church may see a big percentage of its income go for the staff salaries, but a more established church may pay their staff the same amount and it be a lot smaller percentage.

However, most "experts" say no more than 50 percent should go for salaries in a typical church. In a small start up church it may go as high as 90 percent, but in a large church it should be closer to 40 percent.

Know the answer? Face the same situation? Please post your answer or comment by using the "comment" link below. Thank you!

Comments for What Percentage of Budget is Average for Salaries

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Does the Percentage really say much?
by: SC

I just recently became part of a church finance committee and started looking at percentages and the allocations in regard to the church mission.

As a large church, we are spending about 50% on staff. 25% of the budget goes to music programs.

The one metric that I don't see is anything that measures the effectiveness of the allocations.

I can't see that throwing money at people without some sort of performance accountability will every grow a church. The two main numbers are how many were in attendance and the level of overall giving (plus or minus).

Is there a source out there for measuring the quality of services and effectiveness of the outreach.

Maybe I am missing something? I am looking for a way to frame the budget for overall effectiveness.

Difficult Situation
by: Anonymous

The problem with volunteers is that they aren't always reliable. Paid employees HAVE to be reliable. Most people can't afford to donate their time. Those blessed individuals who have an abundance of energy can work a full time job and also volunteer...but many people just don't have that energy.

I am a paid p/t staff at our church and how I would love to just volunteer (that's actually what I started out doing), but we need the income :/ Of course I volunteer on Sundays and during events, but the day-to-day business administration I am being paid to do.

I agree with many of the comments about Pastors volunteering...that if they have to work another job for income and can only put a few hours each week into being a Pastor it doesn't work well. It's not the best idea if you want a healthy church.

Pay what congregation can afford
by: Anonymous

I have recently left a church where it seemed that paying salaries was the top priority and bills went into arrears. Giving and membership went down, but more paying positions were added.

Of course pleas were made to increase giving amounts but it never happened. There was hardly any evangelism because there was no money for it.

I don't see how anyone employed by the church can expect to be paid more than the congregation can afford to pay. If giving and membership go down, then salaries should too.

If the leaders are employed or employable in secular jobs they should consider small stipends or volunteer, just as they ask the congregants to do in their church work.

Top priority should be given to evangelism which hopefully increases members to the kingdom, but maybe to area churches as well.

Ministering to ourselves week after week is not what the local church was supposed to be about. Telling folks to minister and evangelize as individuals is hypocritical when the church as whole does not do much of it. People learn better by doing things hands on supervised by church leaders, then feel confident to go it on their own.

Just my opinion but I have lived through this many times in many churches.

It's about how many rather than how much sometimes
by: John

I absolutely agree that a pastor should be decently compensated. I feel where some churches get into trouble is in the rush to add more paid staff.

Often there's someone who seems to have a heart for ministry and maybe a need for employment, so that seems to the leadership to indicate God is leading them to bring this person onto the paid staff, and then the church members are pushed to give to cover this increase as it's all part of God's plan.

Sometimes it is--but other times it may a premature move made for often good but incorrect reasons. I've seen more than one church where the shortfall is repeatedly the amount of the superfluous added staff, even after many cries for more sacrificial giving.

agreement and covenant
by: hrmsy

every church needs to have a body of authority that guides the fellowship and yields to the Spirit of God. Salary is a two way street ,"this is what we offer", and a agreement is made as a covenant with God to earn and to pay. In the end we live, we die, and we are judged...righteously, and eternally. Our covenant with man and God is binding, eternally It is demanded that we are faithful.

Pastor Salary
by: John

I like the discussion on this page. There are passionate ideas and thoughts from people coming from very difference churches and backgrounds. It's really helped me think about this issue from many different angles.

As someone who has done youth ministry for free, part time, full time, and then part time again I'd like to say that there is clearly not a one size fits all answer here. I can without a doubt say that I am financially poorer because I followed God's calling into ministry. But I am emotionally, spiritually, and mentally richer for it. Very few pastors got into ministry to get rich.

I see several posts that are so upset that salary expenses are higher than "ministry expenses". I understand the concern, but let us not lose sight of the fact that salary expenses ARE (at least partially) ministry oriented.

When I did ministry for free I spent about 5 hours a week on sermon prep. That's not enough time to do justice to the word of God. There were times when my teens were in crisis or just needed someone to talk to when I had to be at my secular job. And that doesn't even factor in the time it takes to be a good husband and father. All of us only have 24 hours in a day, and none of us can burn the candle at both ends without burning out.

Then I did part time ministry. Suddenly I could afford to call off work to go to graduation and sporting events. Conventions and Missions trips could be taken. I started spending 10-12 hours a week in sermon prep. My preaching was more effective, and God's word was flowing in the lives of our teens. We grew from a handful of kids to around 40. There were still times I had to be at work when I could have been a light in the lives of our teenagers; but there was suddenly much more freedom to minister how I felt God wanted me to.

Then I left that church to go work full time elsewhere. That church was a nightmare. Nearly 70% of income was going to salary, and most of the other 30% went into paying off loans they had accrued on a building project. They didn't reach into the community, they didn't help support those in need from their own church. Needless to say, I didn't stay there very long. But in the time I was there I realized I could forge deeper connections, be at almost all the games, prepare even better sermons as a result of not working outside the church. But those benefits didn't outweigh the costs of marginal evangelism and the inability to financially assist our congregation in times of need.

What I'm saying is this. If your pastor's heart is in the right place then paying him a fair wage truly is benefiting your The Kingdom, your church, and your community. More people will come to your church, When people come they will experience the gospel in a fresh powerful way.

After reading some of these guidelines and thoughts, I've come to think this.

A) The church will struggle when salaries are over 50% of the income.
B) No individual man should make hundreds of thousands of dollars proclaiming the Gospel.
C) If your church brings in over $10,000 in total annual income then salaries should generally make up 50% or less of the budget. If that means the senior pastor is part time based on your churches giving then that's what it means.
D) No individual salary should be greater than the equivalent position in your local school system, assuming they have similar education. For example SR Pastor = Principal, Youth pastor = High school teacher, Children's pastor = Elementary teacher. Do remember to include things like tax differences and health benefits in this comparison.
E) If your average church attendance is significantly greater than your local high school I could understand somewhat higher salaries than your local school, but I would be wary of exceeding those numbers.
F) When the Sr. Pastors income hits the median wage for your town it's time (maybe past time depending on where in the country you live) to start looking into additional staff (whether in secretaries, youth pastor, CC, maintenance... each church's needs are different). This initial hire may temporarily bump you over the 50% mark,

No one wants to see their pastor struggle financially. And Paul is clear that paying ministers of the Gospel is appropriate. But greed will kill a local body of believers if they let it.

Like every other post, this is simply my opinion. And like I said at the beginning, there is no one size fits all solution. Your church may be totally different than these guidelines and still be quite health; but I think these guidelines will generally help those seeking an answer to this question.

We are all called to reach out to the lost.
by: Timotheus

We were just presented the church budget at our church. Almost a total of 3 million. My concern is the missions only got 11% and local ministry 12%. We only gave asmall percent to those in need and missions. Are pastors in the body making more than what we send in funds for missions and loacl ministry. Its not about the building as we are called the be witnesses for Yeshua and to feed, cloth the poort, take care of the widow. based on te amount spent on salaery, staffing, the church is being run like a buiness. I am very upset that we have not been good stuwarts to the ministry. Why is it Jw spend all their money on missions, newsletter, and all work is volunteer. Don't misunderstand I am not a JW. But why do pastors make millions when this needs to be shared with the world all the people in need. We are the assembly Yeshua is our pastor and JW got one thing. right we must witness and share the gospel, in the streets, door to door, and help those in need. Pray about this and lets Seek Yahweh our Father Elohim, Yeshua the Son, and listen to the Holy Spirit. There should be no division among us as we are all one body in Christ. Amen

Each man should take of his own household
by: Scott McGregor

My Grandfather was a Pastor and built our home church. He was also a full-time farmers. With one leg. He never took a salary from the church. That is the example I follow. I work to support my home and don't expect the church to do some. We build more and more structure on top of "preaching the gospel" that comes with more and more cost, ALL placed on the backs of the people. just my two cents.

Left field...
by: Kreig

Very interesting discussion. Pastors are like politicians (ooh how do you like that start? ) as are all Christians really in that people are first and money second. It should be closer to volunteering than it is to a job. That being said anyone who is soley working unto the Lord should be compensated if this there call. Still i believe great perspective has been lost over time here.

Also, pastors are supposed to be shepherds not be the holy spirit. I'm not saying that they claim to be but since most American Christians get fed once a week then starve till next Sunday that is both too much pressure on a pastor and too little on the many parts of the Bride. We continue to foster this system and it will eventually fall...

Now without going into great detail... what if like is stated in 1cor 11 we actually did have a five fold ministry and a whole congregation of believers that sought the Lord, discerned things and the holt spirit guided them?

I think we'd have less issues evangelizing less issues with church roles, oversight, money, where to meet, health (and I mean primarily division but less physical health issues as well) and less need for specific denominationally trained pastors because the ho-hum culture of evangelical Christians actually got up during the week, read their bible and got a word from the holy spirit that they could bring back to the church on Sunday and actually be part of the edifying instead of just sitting trusting that the pastor they are listening too is closer to the truth than the one down the block.

This kind of church will likely only come out of great trial and persecution, again, when our trust falls solely on the Lord and not one particular pastor.

Salaries are just fine but the point of a pastor is really to work himself out of a job and move on somewhere else he is needed...

more guidelines or insights why we need to support a church pastr
by: Anonymous

The comments are very enlightening, as to what percentage of budget is average for salaries...we just came up with our next years church budget...in making our program based budget for 2015 church budget, seems there was a very fast consensus to increase almost all ministry budgets yet there was a lengthy discussions either to give extra benefits or increase salary to our part time pastor who has been faithfully giving his time although he has that part time status for the last five years.... The Pastor started the church planting work until it became self sufficient from 15 people to an average of 70-80 members ... looking at the church budget it is possible we just need to re-evaluate or cut back unnecessary expenses or ..... i appreciate any insights or guidelines to strengthen co- leaders on how we can look after the best welfare of our pastor. the church would be more blessed if he would focus his time solely to the church work where he is called to care for and minister to and not be bothered to look after his basic needs to make both ends meet.

Conforming to the world's pattern
by: Elder(both definitions)

Weighing in on pastors’ pay and more. After many years as serving as both a minister and elder (deacon), I have begun to see church finances in a much different light than I once did. For many years I fell into the "traditional" view. That is, organizing the church’s administration and finances in the same way businesses and/or charitable entities are organized.

In my youth, the pastor was paid as close to the median income of the members as possible. If the church’s revenue were down or if the pastor and his family needed more, individual members would give of what they had to help: food, new tires for his car, medical bills, etc.

The worship leader, youth pastor, maintenance people, cleaning and yard crew were all volunteers.
In recent years the modern church culture has settled into more of a organization mode than that of an organism modeled after the New Testament churches. As I search the scriptures as to the administration of money in the churches, I find no similarity to the administration and organization of today’s churches. For an example, say a church has attendance of 350-400 people in Sunday morning service and takes in $550,000 per year. This modern model church would have a Senior Pastor, an Administrative or Assistant Pastor, a Youth Pastor, a Worship Pastor, a maintenance man, and a secretary with a total compensation expense of around 50-60%. Building and administrative cost would run another 25-35% and 5-10% for programs and events, leaving 10-15% for benevolences and gospel outreach.
This does not stand up to the New Testament church model or to scriptural instruction. All the arguments I have heard in favor of the new age church culture is based on man’s logic and judgment and lacks scriptural authority.

by: Leonard

We are told your check book will tell you your priorities. Here is where God's checkbook(the tithe) in most churches gets spent:

1st place-employment opportunities.
2nd place-
3rd place-
Last Place-Missions

The American Church is still in "infant" mode. Believers(lay people) should not need a 40+ hour a week man and staff to meet their spiritual needs. We need to grow up and be weaned by pastors off such thinking. But then Pastors and staff may end up having to get a second job in the "secular" world to make up for the lost hours. That's a dilemma for them also. Pastors/staff are Americans like me, like you mesmerized by America's great wealth.

My last church my family attended had over 200 in weekly attendance and yet the pastor worked a secular job. He did not stay at the church during the week-he had a phone if you needed him.
We had 1 part time person who worked from home-glad they did not have to drive to church to get the business aspect work done. We had an "elder body" to help the pastor. The church was flourishing/growing and loving. Building campaigns were done with cash not loans.

See, the believers were taught to be dependent on God and the Word and each other. And so we were able to spend a much larger portion of our budget on missions than the average church.

May be this worked because it was a country church. City people may cannot be taught to be independent of one man/staff for their needs. Of course "one man" may be several pastors according to the size and needs of the church but the principal is the same.

Stop. I wrote too much!
ps. Facetious on city/country thingy.

Very dear Prodigal Daughter
by: Rob

You're comments reflect your very sweet heart for the suffering and the lost. Jesus longs for his people to have hearts so tender that they ache for the things which make his heart ache.

I left a church where the Senior Pastor could not find joy or gratitude in a $100,000+ salary. While the reason for our leaving was not tied specifically to this reason, it showed up in multiple other ways. (I was the Elder in charge of personnel matters.)

Our new church, which is a large church, most likely pays its pastors well. It has the means to do so. It also gives enormous amounts of money to spread the gospel and encourages significant ministries through financial support and the support of its people.

God is not stingy. We should not be stingy to those who serve God in a genuine calling to pastoral ministry. God is not stingy. We should not be stingy to ministry in he name of Christ.

Because of hardened hearts there is the potential for such animosity in he church, among pastors, leaders and members. God has seen fit to provide for his Bride, the Church. The need for men and women of humility is great.


by: ProdigalDaughter

I do not have the solution to this issue, but I do have a question. If a church brings in $100,000 and uses only the 50% allowance for salaries, upkeep etc. That is $50,000 less EVERY year for the kingdom of God. That is 10,000 bibles each year that won't get purchased, 104 missionaries that will not be supported, 142,857 children who will not receive deworming medicine, 1,000 children who will not be fed for a year (most of whom will die without ever hearing the gospel). I could go on and on here, but I think you should get the point. I understand that pastors have families and bills, and I get the "need a place to worship" thing... but come on... we are talking about people dying every single day without ever hearing the gospel and for what reason? Because your church wanted a newer / better sound system?? Like I said, I don't have the answers here but for all of you pastors who are going on and on about your college loans and bills... just remember that by the time you have read this post, approximately 100 people have died. Each year, fifty six million people die worldwide... how many of them have never heard the gospel and won't because you want a reception hall in your church or because you want to repave your parking lot? I am not trying to be rude or disrespectful, but I think that this is a legitimate concern for the church today. There has to be a better way. If you would all step outside of yourselves and your financial problems you may just understand my point. 4% for outreach / missions... really?? People need God and the more money you spend on upkeeping your church and your staff, there will be more of them who will never hear the gospel. Can you all, in good conscience go to bed tonight and sleep soundly knowing that while you are paying off your college debt, people are dying? What ever happened to being called into ministry? Yes, you need to study Gods word, but don't need a Masters degree to do so.Save yourselves and your congregants their tithe money by paying for an internet connection and get a library pass. Save souls... that should be your mission in life.

Pastor Salaries
by: PK

Great discussion why stop with 3 years running! I am proud to be a part of a denomination that sets the salaries for it's pastors based on membership. (And available finances) Since our church keeps "accurate" membership roles we run in attendance more than we have members. (About 275 attendance and 110 members) Our pastors council voted to pay my salary based on average attendance instead of membership because they did not want me to be punished for honest membership rolls. I think I am only one of two churches in our state (Our denomination) that have more attendees than members.

The good thing is that I have not had to EVER ask for a raise or worry about my salary. The denomination sets that salary and it is a blessing.

The truth is that there are some pastors that are absolutely lazy and will suck a church dry. On the other hand my heart breaks for men like some of those posting here who work hard, improve themselves and try to raise a family on a very meager income. I have two girls in college and two at home and things are very tight financially but I have always trusted God and He has always come through! When salary was not enough God would place it on the heart of an individual to bless us and through out the years we have never missed a meal.

Our current budget for salaries 3 full time employees (Me, Secretary, Ministry coordinator) and 4 part time employees is about 52% of the budget. I want to work on lowering this a bit, but this year I think we will double our World Missions and local missions giving if we stay on track.

I would say that if a church errors they should error on paying their pastor too much than not enough. If you pay him too much the ball is in his court and he will be accountable for what he is getting and what he is giving. If you pay him too little you may just see the blessing of God leave your church I have witnessed it over and over.

Accountability is key and that is why our church (In my opinion) has the most disclosure of any church in our city. We put a very detailed financial report out monthly in the hallway and whoever wants to see it can to their hearts content. They may not like it, but they don't have to wonder where the money goes. 98% of the people never look at it but they like to know it's there if they want to.

Blessings to all of you who are seeking the will of God for your church!

tickling ears
by: Lawful Bliss

The last church I attended had about the same 65% salary, 30% was the lead pastor alone(more than twice the local household income). With the church have NO mortgage, 90% of their costs were fixed(salaries & maintenance). That allowed 10% for feeding & clothing the poor, flowers for widows and other benevolent ministries---but wait, none of that happened there because the allotted 10% went to their larger affiliation/convention. So with a minimal outreach, I elected to attend a more like-minded organization.
At my current church, their budget is half the size and still they manage to actually donate 45-50% of their annual budget to overseas mission work. aka SPREADING THE GOSPEL.
When times got tough last year, my church actually cut salaries to maintain their level of giving.
It would be my advise that a person finds a like-minded church that actually shares their values. If you value spreading the Gospel, find a church that values spreading the gospel. If you value widows and orphans, find a church that values those people. Try to find the pastor that focuses more on others than himself. There you will find peace.

by: Dan

Wow, this thread has continued for almost 3 years! I've been with a church for 28 years and it has grown from under 100 to over 10,000 members during that time. The total budget now is about $8M and we're around 38% for payroll and related (including taxes and insurance) for about 140+ employees.

During our history, we've been all over the map on salaries. In the early years, you do what you have to; the pastor and/or his wife work part time, as well as others.

Here's the point; sometimes the church just starts growing and there isn't a choice about bringing people on staff. You just can't have a facility for that many people to maintain and repair without a payroll. And you also have to meet the spiritual (and often the physical) needs for all those people too.

However, I can also see in some of the previous posts that there are pastors whose vision is all about themselves and not about the Gospel. You can't take almost all the operating budget for yourself if you have a passion to reach out. (Of course, there are exceptions when the church is just starting out.)

Professional Career
by: Anonymous

What did Paul think about getting paid for preaching the Gospel?

Pastoral Salaries
by: Anonymous

The most recent comment, paying Pastors based on a High School Principal's salary does not take into consideration multiple factors which should be reflected in a Pastor's salary. Size of church in terms of members and income, as well as specific educational acheivements, denomination affiliation, as well as other considerations makes this important to take a closer look. There are publications which provide a closer look and are well worth the effort and expense to use in determining a Pastor's salary.

pastor salaries
by: Anonymous

As a rule of thumb, Pastor salary in a church that requires a Master of Divinity for ordination should reflect the salary of the local high school principal for your community as the educational requirements are similar. Los Angeles county principals make around $100,000 (sans benefits), therefore pastors should be compensated that much for salary and housing before benefits.

Take a look at what your local high school principal is paid and you will have a good yardstick for your full-time pastor's salary. Chances are good that he or she is underpaid.

by: Anonymous

I am in a church of roughly 80-100 people, my church is debt free and in the past 3 years has sold one property for 5million dollars and purchased another for 100,000.00 and spent approx. 700,000.00 to renovate. Both pastors received over 1.2 million from personal property they sold connected to the sale of the church property which they kept entirely for themselves( inherited property). One of our pastors earns 48,000.00 as an administrative pastor, the senior pastor earns 50,000.00 while another earns 12,000.00(senior pastors mothers pension) we have one other paid staff earning 20,000.00 per year. Our church expenses were over $400,000.00 last year, including the $130,000.00 in salaries. Our tithes and offerings were only $140,000.00 total. Most of our expenses were for sound/light/music equipment and other things decided only by pastors. I am an unpaid youth leader with a budget of only $2,400.00 per year with at least 35 youth. I am not reimbursed for any expenses. Do you think this is reasonable? our leaders are always asking for more money but never making any cuts. I know at least $100,000.00 was spent on things that were not necessary to the everyday function of the church. We do not even pay for cleaning of a 22,000 sq ft building. It has also been stated we can never pay a youth pastor? what opinions on this?

by: Anonymous

I keep reading references to Pastors being called by God, special calling, etc. I keep thinking, all that are called by God, called into His family, have received a special calling. We're ALL called to do the work of the ministry. I obtained a Bachelor of Science and I don't think I'm entitled to have a high enough paying job for an annual 3 week vacation and to pay off my loan speedily and easily, in this economy. I don't get financially compensated for long and late night phone calls to friends that need love and prayer, or 5+ hours of housework for a friend that just had surgery, or for all the hours I spent ministering to this woman who is now a very good friend. I don't use other people's money to make meals for people in need, or attend a Childbirth Ed.class with a single pregnant woman. Such is the life of a believer, and it's gooooood, even if we can't afford vacations. We are ALL called to do the work of the ministry and PASTORING people is not just for people that have been accredited to carry that title. If God called someone to be a Pastor, did that also include being called into $30,000 debt per year...? We've let the ministry, the church, and the role of pastor evolve into something that is really hard to pull out of scripture. What if I were called by God to be a nurse? OR a mother, Or a teacher? Are those UNspecial callings? How many NT verses actually include the word Pastor? My question to answer ratio is growing much too large.

What happened
by: Tom

When I became a christian years ago churches averaged 30-40% of their budgets to missions work outside the church.Today with such lopsided salary figures how many churches are doing this today? How about this? Take a look a the median family income for you county/city and pay your pastor that wage-the wage that the families in the church who tithe are living on. Our pastor gets almost 3 times the median family income of our county and this thinking seems in line with a whole lot of pastors out there. Oh, yeah- I forgot, it's a profession, not a calling like it used to be. I remember pastors working secular jobs full-time and perfectly content because they did it for the Lord not their congregation, but to benefit their congregation as an offering to the Lord. No, I don't work my pastor to have to work a secular job, but the mission shouldn't suffer to keep people employed.

by: Lawful Bliss

Our church just voted $11,000+ in salary raises over the last six months while our benevolence fund was allowed to run dry.
I consider myself a manly-man, hunting/welding/working with bare hands, but last night I about cried in front of the entire congregation because our priorities are not aligned with His.
Like it was said earlier, we must not be conformed to this world, so I don't care what the Jones's are paying their pastor. Here's a great idea, let's put God before ourselves when preparing a budget. Start with feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, what we are all called to do, then worry about the buildings/salaries. Is this such a difficult concept to grasp? I don't even see how this can be an issue if we all are what we say we are.
Thankfully, I'm employed by the private sector and manage a small business, so I am a business man. Not to be cold and calculated, but I have to put my money where it gets the best 'bang for the buck' and other ministries such as the Gideons are pretty high on my list.
I'm confused by so-called Christians and seeking answers. Might find me some good ole Proverbs.

Mike's comment
by: J R

I think $150,000 is a bit excessive, but I also think a full time pastor is a full time job. Our pastor is at the church throughout the week 8-5 (or later)and puts in well over 40 hours.Not only is he doing sermon prep, but he is coordinating other ministries we are involved with, counceling members, visiting hospitals, helping the needy.....for those who think pastors only work a few hours on Sunday, you are mistaken.

Balancing Act
by: revdrdan

I found this page while searching for reasonable percentages for salaries compared to total budget. I understand 50% as a guideline,the church I serve is well over it (about 68% of $100,000), and I'm the pastor (the big ticket item at $50,000 who also pays for all his conference expenses, education and insurance). We also have a part-time (10 hours per week) Administrative Assistant and a part-time musician. People give above and beyond for ministry programs (about $26,000 a year).

Living in the Chicago area, $50,000 is a reasonable wage given my experience and education. Still, I struggle with the knowledge that my salary is such a big part of our total budget. I'm offering to take a 3% pay cut this year to help out (I also give 12% of my gross pay). The board isn't exactly happy with my offer--they want to give me a raise--but the finances don't support their much-appreciated desires.

For me, it's a balancing act.

Pastor Brad
by: Anonymous

Pastor Brad,
I am a Pastor and even I don't agree with what you say "Give your Pastor everything and God will bless you"...what book is that in?

Perhaps give God everything...but not us, we are only mortal men (and women) with imperfections....and when someone gives generously to God or the church, the leaders of the church have a responsibility to be good stewards with those funds...not just pay it out in salaries.

Which is what this whole thread is supposed to be discussing, a reasonable percent for those salaries.....and I know its not "everything" as you say it is.
Our overall salaries budget is nearing 56% and even I can see that it is affecting the "genuine purpose" of the church as a whole in a negative way.
Thanks for hearing me out.
Pastor Barry

concerned - continued
by: PF


To be honest some of the comment here if I was your pastor I would be very hurt, others overjoyed that you care enough to make sure your pastor does not have the burden of finance so they can carry out their "calling from God".

I know the question here is how much, but it all depends if the parsonage and church are paid for, are there apportionments to be paid, can you keep the lights on? Maybe for some this could cause some scoffing, for others you do not have to worry about those items.

SO the best answer that I have heard from some very wise and educated types in the world is you should be willing to pay your pastor what would be commensurate to that of their education and time put into the job.Think on call as well when you figure this out and the vocations that are paid for being on call and what they get paid for getting called out at 2am. I average 55-60 hours min a week with sermon prep, visitation, continuing ed, community contacts, prayer, drive time, building relationship, community outreach, preparing for the preparing of service, keep this in mind when you divide out the time commensurate to the salary package and then ask yourself honestly, would you work for this?

Oh, and one more thing, with little pay usually comes no preparation for retirement as well - keep that in mind as most employers pay for many things that people do not break down or take in consideration in compensating their pastor. As pastors we do pay taxes on everything, including the love offerings.

I and many do this because we are called and despite the hardships, heartbreak and sacrifice that also breaks our heart as our families are impacted by not seeing us and lack of finances we love what we do and have a great peace. We do this for YOU and the community, those relationships are important to the life of the church and putting a dollar amount on eternal impact is a hard thing to do.

My prayers are with you all as you search your hearts, seek the face of the Lord in taking care of your pastor(s)

by: PF

I have been reading the comments that as many have pointed out are varied. As a pastor (8 years) 2.5 here for a small church I make 350.00 a week and then thankfully we are provided a parsonage with utilities. (Our church raised 43k last year and of that 15 percent went to district and world missions, the rest to operations and community outreach)

I have about 80k in student loans, am on call 24/7 and then volunteer as the city police and fire chaplain. In addition to that I have a a wife and three children. There are many weeks we struggle to put basics on table in our house and yet when there are others in need we give from our own pantry. I am in my last class to finish my MA in Ministry Leadership and when I have to start paying on my loans they will be about 1200.00 a month. On top of that when the funds have not been there to "do" ministry we have undertaken that and put it on our own credit so that a Bible study can be done or someone reached because the funds are not there. My wife is our worship leader, women's ministry leader and leads our Children's music program, while homeschooling our children and going to school herself online like myself. I have health issues with 8 bad vertebrae and am 41. Ok so there is a basis scenario of mine, but also represents several other pastors I know.

In our denomination I do not deal with funds, count money, write checks and have no wish to do so because it opens a door for some of the questions people here are dealing with. I have a loving church board who is supportive, yet most have no idea how much we struggle, but have been faithful in trying to bring our salary up a bit each year even though the church funds are the same. However our church has grown by 300 to 400 percent and of that more than 50 percent are children. When we came there were five total and that included mine. This is due in large of spending a LOT of time out in the community building relationships, spending a LOT of time building relationships with the people of the church and the people of the church starting to get that momentum.

Response to Recent Post
by: Rob Stubbs

I don't know the specifics related to the law concerning non-for-profits but if you and your spouse are close to the situation and have doubts as to the ethics of the manner in which money is being handled or a lack of accountability, it would be wise to ask for greater transparency and accountability. That should be done prayerfully and with wisdom and humility.

Pastors who are not under immediate supervision of an elected board of Elders or Trustees are at risk of having to depend on their own judgement and church members can then become suspicious, rightly or wrongly. The accountability is there to protect the Pastor to the same extent that it protects the entire congregation.

Rob Stubbs

High Salary/issues
by: Anonymous

I am serving in leadership at a church where my wife and I volunteer in several different ways. We run the youth ministry, the worship ministry, and take care of running the church when our pastors are away or have health issues.

Our church is currently renting from another church. We have been a church body for 5 years now, and our pastor has never elected/selected a board or trustees during this time. Instead, he and his appointed treasurer make all the financial decisions in the church.

We have an average weekly church attendance of about 40 people, and we bring in an average weekly offering of around 1000 dollars.

The senior pastor is the only one getting paid by the church, and his income is around $730 a week. in addition to this pay, he and his wife also attend conferences/meals included that are paid for by the church.

Does anyone think this is too much for the church to be responsible for? In addition, there was a private fund set up as a scholarship fund when his daughter decided she was going to go to back to ministry school, which has had money deposited in it by church members, and money has gone out of it to help fund his daughter's ministry schooling.

Given the current financial state of the church, and how week to week we barely get by after we pay the bills, would the IRS consider his salary, other perks or this scholarship fund illegal in any way? If, so..how would you address the situation? All comments are welcome. Thanks and God Bless!

What is a church?
by: Anonymous

76 percent for salary? 18 percent for admin? 4 percent for outreach ministry? and you tell me it is a church? You must be kidding?

Pastor Salaries
by: John

This conversation has went from one extreme to the next. Here is my opinion. What I mean by one extreme to the next is this; Some of you have the Pastor best interest at heart. Some of you have the congregation best interest at heart. Others are just angry because the Pastor is making more money than they are.

Here is the problem as I see it. The ones who have the Pastor best interest at heart. He will get a large compensation package. Usually this is a large salary, housing allowance, cell phone, gas for vehicle and for personnel use as well for pastoral duties, insurance allowance. With many perks that are not included into his or her salary; maintenance on vehicle, pastor aide package, pastor anniversary, the church anniversary, speaking engagements etc. Do not forget a raise every year regardless if the church is growing or not. Then you will have those say I wish we could do more for the pastor.

The other group who have the congregation best interest at heart. They will have a nice building with all the perks. Doing some local mission. A full staff for the kitchen. Eat for every occasion. While the Pastor work outside pastoral duties and struggle to do both.

The first is completely focus on the pastor needs and neglecting everything else. The second is just the opposite. It is focus on the congregation needs making sure they keep up with the latest and greatest movement to keep the people happy and increase the numbers in the pews.

Here is the problem with both. They are both lacking the most important ingredients, preaching to the lost, mission work, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick/and those in jail. We fallen so far from what the church should be as Christian. There are very few churches who understand there must be a balance between the two for the mission to take place. This is sad but true. Because of this our churches has went from transformers to conformers and the world has no moral compass to point them in the right direction.

Yes the statement is still true, if you wish to find out where the heart is, follow the money. My prayer is that a revival happen and happen soon.

Why Pay a Pastor a Livable Wage If Possible
by: Pastor Stringer

I have been in ministry for almost 20 years. So far, all but about 4 of those years, I have been bi-vocational. I am serving as an interim pastor right now (the church is voting on us tonight).
I believe we should pay pastors (not grudgingly or of necessity) who are faithfully laboring in the word and doctrine:
1) because the Bible says we should--"they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel"
2) because not having to have a 2nd job frees him mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to give himself fully to ministry
3) because we are not only paying him to be our pastor, but a preacher of the gospel--he can devote more time to outreach, jail ministry, nursing homes, schools, etc...
4) because God does tend to bless a giving church more than a stingy church (in the same way as any individual)
5) because lazy and slothful pastors shouldn't be a motivating factor in a church's decision about determining a pastor's pay.
BTW, if the church votes me in they will start me with about $800.00/week equivalent to 33% of church budget. Missions constitutes at least 25% of our budget. Building and grounds accounts for about 25%. The rest goes board outreach. Benevolence usually comes out of my pocket or a love offering can be received.

Follow up regarding salaries
by: Rob


The discussion points are interesting and have moved in ways that have been somewhat surprising and very divergent. We are dealing with a topic that is emotionally charged and is fundamental to the health of the local body.

I enjoyed the comment that church members are broken into thirds. This seems to be true. I am in the top third who cares and I am also the head of our Personnel Committee, so I am charged with the responsibility to care.

Our Pastors, which we have three, range in salaries from a low of $73,000, for our Youth Pastor, to just under $100,000 annually for our Senior Pastor. I have found that Pastors are divided in thirds as well. Those who are grateful, those who wish they could make more and those who are ungrateful and discontent over what they make.

Effective church governance is vital to ensuring a well run organization and fair compensation practices. I encourage Pastors to understand the vital role of their particular governance structure and to abide by the decisions of those who have been called to oversee the church.

Question about pay
by: Anonymous

I would like your feedback. We are a church plant and have about four families. We meet in a clubhouse. We have just found that the pastor has used about 80% of the churches funds for himself. While telling the church organization that he does not get a salery. He sleeps in till 11:00 or 12:00 and they eat out 4-6 days a week sometimes twice a day. Should the church funds go to that or be used to buy a building or outreach. The 80% is about 50,000.00.

Seminarian Perspective
by: Anonymous

I stumbled upon this conversation and found it very interesting. I might just be a naive seminarian, but I certainly hope there aren't too many out there with Mike's opinion of "just pay $100 per week for preaching" professional ministry is about WAY more than the hour or so a week in Sunday service.

Sermon preparation alone likely takes upwards of 10 hours. Pastoral care to the congregation and frankly, anyone that calls on you with a need for it, from visiting shut-ins to 2am emergency room visits to pastoral counseling sessions for everything from a troubled youth to pre-marital counseling. This takes time and this is real ministry happening.
Most of the pastors I am familiar with are also the leaders and organizers of parish education, empowering leaders from within the congregation to teach.
The list goes on about what a pastor does from week to week, but also consider how a pastor got to where they are.

I am in my first year of seminary and am going into debt from student loans roughly $30,000 a year for 3 years in order to be qualified to be a pastor. I have already completed my BA which took 4 years. With 7 years of school I could be very successful in any number of professional careers; I'm not going into ministry to make money, I am going into ministry because I have been called by God to do so.

That being said, I don't think I should be punished and forced to live in debt because I wasn't called to a more lucrative vocation.

I would love to ensure that the church I eventually serve pays less than 50% toward salaries and benefits, but that largely depends on what the church budget is to begin with. Frankly, in the area I live in I could make more than $20,000 a year waitressing or being a cashier at a clothing store, don't you think your pastor is worth more than minimum wage and a life of institutional debt - I wouldn't wish that on my enemies, let alone the person called to care for my soul.

So the question I pose to everyone is: Is there a minimum monetary amount that should be spent on salaries, housing allowances, healthcare benefits, etc.? Perhaps for start-up churches or congregations with very low budgets they could "share" a pastor with another struggling congregation or get creative about doing mission work (for free) around their own communities until enough growth is achieved to adjust the budget accordingly.

Also, is there a monetary cap for individual salaries and benefits? Could one person feasibly pastor a church with a 1 million dollar budget (I know I couldn't) maybe 5 full-time pastors working in that church would be much more realistic? At what point would you advise calling associate pastors / support staff instead of just adding to the sole pastor's salary?

Thank you for entertaining the thoughts and questions of a perhaps too naive seminarian.

Blessings on your ministries.

Mikes Comment
by: Henry L. Banks

First off I want to tell mike that he needs to have a little come to Jesus before he says anything else. Until you have been called by God to watch over peoples souls, you should think about what you say and how you say it. Pastors do a lot of things that members and other outsiders (which is you Mike, you an outsider) have no clue about. From getting called to pray for someone at 1'oclock in the morning to preaching your heart out on Sunday morning in front of people who are so lost that it would take 6 search parties to try and find them. That is what pastors do, good pastors anyway. so think before you write anything else Mike b/c when I say you have no idea, you have no idea.

Give Everything
by: Anonymous

well said 'give everything' however we don't give blindly. A church should be growing with new converts, helping the poor, supporting missions. If it is not doing all three then we should give where it is making a difference. If we continue paying 80 % of our income to our pastor then there may not be any way to afford a place to rent and therefore open up more ministry opportunities. The meeting is tonight. I'll post the results.

Interesting Info...
by: P. Brad

We are in central Michigan. Our annual budget is $150,000 and we pay 64.87% in salaries and benefits for pastors, support staff, custodial, etc. We own our own building and carry no morgage.

As a pastor I am always amazed at how people view the office and work of the pastor. As a member of the congregation *before becomeing a pastor* I learned some valuable truth about churches finances. There are three groups of people within the church concerning finances:
1) those who micromanage and scrutinize
2) those who are simply inquisitive
3) those who dont care at all

Lets say you publish your lead pastors salary in a flyer and give it to church members. Lets look how these three groups think about that salary:

group #1
"We pay our pastor THAT much" Now the board looks bad and this group believes the board is WASTING church money.

group #2
"That is all we pay our Pastor?" Now the board looks bad and this group believes the church is cheating their leader and something must be done.

group #3
"?" They really have no issues with finances or much of anything else. They just go with the flow.

NOW remember, the statements made by these three groups used the SAME figure in the flyer to come to these feelings.

This illustration is exactly what is taking place here in this forum. I see every comment fitting into one of these groups.

Let me end with this, DO YOUR BEST FOR YOU PASTOR! Give him what you can and he should serve the body with everything he possibly can no matter what the pay. But if you cheat your pastor, whether in finances or anything else, the Lord will not fully bless your church. But when you honor and take care of your pastor to your best ability, God will see to it that the church will stand strong.

Sorry, had to address last post about new testiment tithing. NT does not encourage 10% tithe as previously stated. That was an Old Testiment directive. The directive of the NT is give everything! Study it for yourself. Whatever level you give, just do it with a greatful heart and with thanksgiving. God will bless that!

Pastor Brad

The initial question
by: Anonymous

I appreciate all of the comments...even from Mike. Our church has a budget of just over $600,000 with approx. 350 members. We are in a growing suburban area. Our personnel budget is $335,000. We are at 58% of our budget for personnel. That is them "fully loaded" number, salaries, benefits, housing, etc...

I have heard the 50% rule of thumb and believe that we have exceeded that amount due to reduced income over the past few years. We were also blessed to have paid off our building a few years ago. This was just in time for the economic downturn.

I'd appreciate seeing anyone else's percentage as well. As an editorial I am uncomfortable being above the 50% threshold.

15 church attendees $44,000 salary
by: Karen

I have been researching this question. I am on our church steering committee and we have a meeting coming up where I was going to address the issue of the pastors salary.

We are a small church that use to be a couple hundred people 20 years ago. My family and I love our church family and we are growing spiritually however the church has dwindled to an average of 15 people (including kids) on any given Sunday.

We are renting a local town hall by the hour on Sundays. Due to healthy 'givers' and a few tithers who rarely attend we collect about $55,000 per year.

The pastor receives $24,000. for a housing allowance and $20,000 for salary for a total of $44,000.

I am not in agreement with this since we are only shrinking year to year. I am going to propose that we pay the pastor for the work he does and use the balance to rent a space on a busy street where we can get some exposure and have a space for ministering to the neighbourhood.

Once our attendance goes up we can pay him more. Honestly we are all mature Christians so there isn't that much 'work' involving the flock. I would say that we could all share in doing the sermans as well and it would make a welcome change. Any input would be appreciated.

Mikes Comment
by: Steve

I would have to agree with Mike. The condition of the modern organized Church is pathetic. When you combine the modern organized church with private Christian schools you basically create a closed system where Christians can withdraw completely from the great commission and simply pay others to fulfill it for them. When 50 - 90% of the money given to churches goes to buy groceries, automobiles, housing, education, etc.. for able bodied people something is wrong. Nothing is left for any real outreach. You would be far better off investing the money yourself. For example, did you know that when you give $100 to the Gideons International, 100% goes to bibles which are then delivered directly into the hands of men, women and children all over the world by people who pay 100% of their own expenses. That's what I call a good investment.

Obviously people that make a living from the gospel will disagree. But keep in mind that they are the same people telling you that tithing is a new testament doctrine when everyone knows it is not.

If you want to find out what the problem is just follow the money. The love of it has always been the root of all kinds of evil.

Pastor's "Job"
by: Vickey


I try not to censor the comments that are posted.
But I do not allow links to other sites without prior permission, personal emails and telephone numbers (the web is not a safe place to post personal information) and I will not allow offense language or comments.

Mike, I let yours through because even though I personally strongly disagree with your comment...you are titled to your opinion.

So let me add my opinion...my pastor "works" 24/7.

Spoken from a person who has many many times...called my pastor in the middle of the night and all hours of the day for prayer and support, I am thankful that my church can support my pastor so that he does not have to get a secular "job".

He along with most pastors are not in their "profession" for the money, but because God has called them to shepherd our souls.
You are right, Mike...it is a very special ministry.

However, that does not mean they should struggle financially.

1 Timothy 5:18 says: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

So, I am asking that all further comments be about the originally asked question:

What Percentage of Budget is Average for Salaries?

Remember though that what might be considered average for your church might not be considered "average" for another church.

For example, because of the higher cost of living, a pastor in New York City would need a higher wage than one in my state of Oklahoma.

Church size also plays a big factor in that decision.

Real Job?
by: Anonymous

thats an IGNORANT statement. when Pastors such as myself go to school and obtain professional degrees sometimes resulting in thousands of dollars of debt, PHD's etc....which most church prefer, We are expected to know how to do everything,be at everything and be there for everybody, and someone says get a real Job? YOU GET A LIFE, and maybe an education and make your own money so you dont have to worry about someone else making theirs.

by: Pastor K

In response to the previous question, the data I've seen over the years is generally based on general fund income, which usually equates to unrestricted income. That's a bit problematic when a church has a high number of designated categories, which almost always equate to restricted accounts (building fund, youth, missions are three common accounts)

With regard to a previous poster who suggested 100/week was appropriate for sermon prep has either never prepared a sermon or is exceedingly lazy in his preparation. I commonly spend 10-25 hours per week in study and preparation, with my recent average around 15 hours. More importantly the idea is unscriptural.

Compensation Percentage
by: Admin guy


Here's a question re: an established church that has a $5M budget and 50+ employees. Is the 50% benchmark for staff compensation/benes in comparison to the unrestricted revenue, or to the unrestricted AND temporarily restricted revenue, or to the total budgeted expenses? Thanks for your help!

Budget Percentages - comments?
by: Anonymous

As a percentage of monies spent in our church:
Personnel - 76%
Administrative (non personnel) - 18%
Outreach - 4%
Ministries/Programs - 2%

My thought is way too much for personnel.
Also, only 2% for ministries???

Re: Mike
by: Rev. Can

Mike, I'm with you on most of what you're saying; however, your language is a bit interesting. Are you suggesting that ministry isn't a profession? As one who works in full-time ministry, I don't agree with that at all! Those who are operating in line with God's desires for their church are working professionals who experience all the same things others with, as you suggested, "real" jobs experience. This pastor should take a major pay cut, 50% of the church's income should not go towards the pastor--especially when the church doesn't have a mortgage, other staff, building, or any other major financial obligations. Where is the desire for growth?
Simply giving $100 for sermon prep is unacceptable as well. There is far more that goes into the functioning of a church than preaching on Sunday morning & visiting the sick.
However, it doesn't sound like this church can be doing much more than those two with this sort of budget. In my opinion, this should be revisited.

Sign me up!
by: Mike

Wow! Can I be next in line. Actually, it is WAY out of line! I challenge you and your congregation to go another direction. Have your pastor get a real job (secular employment), assign church leaders to share in visiting sick, etc, and you have a bunch of cash to really minister in your community and around the world! Pay $100 per week for sermon prep and delievery. It is ministry, not a profession.

Pastor Salary Question
by: Anonymous

Our church brings in roughly $300,000.00 annually from tithes and offerings. Our minister receives approximate $150,000.00 in salary PLUS he receives funds for continuing education, travel and has a discretionary budget of roughly $8,000.00. We have approximately 150 members, no building, no school and a full time staff of one person. Is this appropriate compensation?

Taxable Income
by: Anonymous

Question: When computing percentage of budget allocated for salary, do you include all staff expenses? Base salary, housing, mileage reimbursement, continuing ed, meals reimbursement, conference expenses, etc.? That would be helpful to know in comparing where our church stands. Thanks.

Mileage Reimbursement is an expense of the church. As long as you reimburse mileage, meals, etc. in accordance with the accountable reimbursement plan on www.irs.gov it is not included in the taxable income of that employee, therefore it should not be included in their salary as it becomes an expense of the church. Determining whether an expense should be a part of ones salary or not should be dependent upon whether or not its included in taxable income.

by: Anonymous

Yes. All salaries and benefits.

What goes into "salary"?
by: Pastor Matt

Question: When computing percentage of budget allocated for salary, do you include all staff expenses? Base salary, housing, mileage reimbursement, continuing ed, meals reimbursement, conference expenses, etc.? That would be helpful to know in comparing where our church stands. Thanks.

other staff
by: Jason

The 50% benchmark is also including all salaries, not just the senior pastor. This would include all pastors and staff.

Excessive Compensation
by: Vickey

No. That is where reasonable compensation comes into play. As I stated above "excessive compensation can result in private inurnment and may jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the church".

Tip: If you are paying your Pastor with a actual percentage of your church's total offerings (which is frowned on by the IRS, but not actually illegal) you better put a cap amount in your church minutes or the IRS will holler "private inurement" and could penalize and/or prosecute the pastor and board members...no matter how little the percentage is.

Church Salaries
by: Anonymous


For clarity sake, in your article on salaries as a percentage of the church budget you stated that a pastor's salary should be no more that 50% of the church budget. Do you mean that if the church budget is $1 million, the pastor's salary should be no more than $500k? Please clarify. Thank you!

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