Church Compensation: Reasonable and Fair?


Every church and its employees want to feel confident that their compensation plan is reasonable and fair.  One resource where you can compare your plan with thousands of other church workers is the 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff. Each chapter contains tables that portray US compensation averages according to several key identifiers, grouped according to the most meaningful breaks such as: Church Income, Worship Attendance, Church Setting, Region, and Education. This book is one tool you can use in working on compensation packages.  The book is not that expensive and yet provides a wealth of information to help you explore compensation more knowledgeably.

Also, many of you are familiar with the annual CRC Ministers' Compensation Salary Report. This report looks at pastor compensation by classis.

Some of you call other churches annually and ask for salary ranges for various positions so you can compare. If a few of you have salary ranges for positions, I would be happy to post these anonymously so we have a few samples available for view.  Right now we have a sample salary range scale available from one church. You can locate this in Church Finance and Administration Resources and Wage Scales under the category of Compensation.

Wondering how to determine levels for different positions? Let me know by sending me a comment.

Anybody have other resources they use to develop compensation plans? Let us know so we can help each other.

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Hi Sheri: 

Pardon my digging up an old post. We are considering adding a second full-time staff person. The job does not require ordination, but many of our applicants are ordained. Could you tell us where to look for resources on how to compensate them fairly? We are came up with a base salary using the compensation book you mention here, but that no longer seems to apply if we go the ordained route (does it?)). We are also aware of the ministers compensation survey, but are looking more for information about how an ordained person in a different role should by fairly compensated (especially in comparison to the "lead" pastor with things like Insurance, housing, pension and, of course, salary). Thanks!

Community Builder

Some suggestions:

  • Insurance should be handled the same for all employees based on full-time (30 or more) or part-time (may be two levels 20+ or under 20 typically)
  • Pension is a covered item for a minister of the Word.  Synod has determined this is how we will take care of our ministers in retirement
  • Housing Allowance is often 35-40% of salary
  • Salary is the most variable option.  Check out the Wage Scales sample in a search on The Network.  This sample from a larger church shows a salary range for a US Pastor Coordinator 1 starting at $49,750/min range/yr to a Senior Pastor max range of $108,340/yr.  This is just a sample from a church but gives you some idea of range.
  • The Ministers' Compensation Survey has variances based on 1st quartile, median, 3rd quartile.
  • "Compensation Handbook for Church Staff" by Richard Hammar
  • If you know of some churches that have a similar position, call them.
Community Builder

Sheri my discussion in feb 2017 centered around how the CRC determines the salary amount when calculating pensions. My point was that it should be using total compensation not just base salary excluding housing allowance. In Canada the latter is simply a benefit bestowed on clergy  by our tax regime and IMHO  has nothing to do with pension calculations. I agree that expense allowance etc. should be excluded from the pension calculations.

My response to John B was if we included the Housing Allowance calculation, our pensions funds, I suspect both in Canadians the USA, would be significantly underfunded. 

Network manager...Sheri's comments should be include in the new discussion forum if possible.



Hi Harry! Thanks for the note. You can certainly add a new comment to the discussion Let's Talk About Pastor Compensation that directs readers to this conversation. Simply use the linking tool or copy and paste the URL. Thanks for connecting these!