How Much Should We Pay Our Youth Directors/Pastors?

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We live in a time when churches expect much of our ministry leaders. Perhaps this is not really new, but the roles in which our ministry leaders serve is.

Many of our churches are being served AND led by gifted pastors who weekly, preach the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your passion, wisdom and leadership.

And over the years, we have seen a steady rise in those who are being hired and called into youth ministry leadership, working alongside those pastors I mentioned earlier. These youth ministry directors or pastors are also passionate about what they do and display significant wisdom and leadership in our churches.

But is there a disparity in what we pay those who serve in youth ministry?

So, let me throw out this question for debate.

How much should we pay our Youth Directors/Pastors?

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As a youth Pastor who is newly commissioned this is a difficult question. Though I believe there is a significant pay gap between ministers of the word and youth directors or commissioned youth pastors, I believe there can also be a significant education gap between the two roles that justifies this pay gap. In evangelical circles a lead pastor is responsible for more of the administration, leadership and vision of the church and as a result they are paid more even when their education is identical to the youth pastor they supervise.  In the crc, in many cases, both the youth pastor and the minister of the word answer to council who is charged to lead, do administration , and vision. I think that in an ideal world the minister of the word and the youth director, if they have similar amounts of education and experience should be paid a similar amount if they work a similar amount of hours (in my case I would say I work as much as the other two pastors in my church and I am out about the same amount of nights). Especially because there is a similar amount of responsibility on the part of both parties with the minister of the word making a bit more because of the greater group of people he or she is responsible for. I would love to see the gap narrow but I won't deny that it takes a lot to become a minister of the word and it depends on the specific church model and the responsibilities assigned to each pastor. 

Participant

Thanks for your observations Bart. Do you think a multi leveled pay grid based on education and experiences (plural, possibly including Youth ministry volunteer time if it was applicable) would be a helpful starting point? My sense is churches need to have something to go by.

I agree with Bart. There is often a huge gap in experience and education. Having been in youth ministry for nearly five years, I am well aware that I will never get paid what the senior pastor of a church gets paid, nor do I believe I ever should. At least not in the position I currently hold. I was not hired to oversee a church of 350+ people. I was hired to oversee a ministry of 50 or so youth. The jobs require a different amount of experience and a different level of education. 

The trouble arises, however, with the expectations and requirements of the the position of “youth director/pastor.” Many churches set the bar lower for this position. For some it is out of necessity. They simply cannot afford to hire someone with more education or experience because they know that person would likely expect a higher wage than they have budgeted for. Thus, they hire the early-20s, high energy, freshly graduated from their bachelors degree person to fill the position.   

Yet, times are changing. God is calling many people to youth ministry, not just for a time, but for life. I am one such person. And as I seek to further my education and I gain experience year after year, I would hope that I would be paid accordingly. 

 

 

Participant

Thanks for your insights Melanie. Yes times are changing indeed

Definitely Ron. We desperately need a grid including volunteer experience. And we need to communicate that grid effectively to churches. In my experience churches are not aware of any such grid and are completely lost as to what youth pastors/directors should be paid. There should be a pension plan and health benefits put in place. Especially if they are commissioned as they are then submitted to the denomination. Churches should be required to follow the grid as a minimum requirement. We could learn a lot From the PAOC and the CBOQ on this.  The PAOC youth pastor in my area had a pension plan and health benefits as soon as he was credentialed and it changed when he got ordained. It doesn't have to be the same as minister of the word but something should be there for commissioned pastors and support staff who have been recognized by the denomination.

I think there are too many youth directors who have not gotten commissioned or signaled their commitment to the denomination meaning they have no protection or recognition from the denomination. Either all youth workers should be encouraged to be commissioned pastors as support staff or we need a Credentialing process which requires training and reflection what it means to be a part of the CRCNA. Perhaps a separate ordination or certification for support staff and youth pastors should be made in order to ensure a theological unity between church and staff and a credible support from the denomination?

This has long been my frustration with the CRCNA. We don't have a framework for support staff. Commissioned Pastor has been used as a "catch all" for support staff but I wasn't made aware of it until year 5 and i wasn't pushed to pursue it because people are confused by it. I also think Youth Pastors should have theological training whether it be formal and provided by a university or Bible college or simply provided as a discipleship process through the denomination. 

A possible reason there is no grid yet is because youth directors have no accountability or connection with the denomination. Churches can do what they want to person if they are just being hired like any other job. 

I hope my reflections are not perceived as a discontentment with the CRCNA or bitterness. I love this denomination but I am excited to see it grow in this area.

Participant

Thank you for your reflections. I plan to look at a grid concept and see what can be done. We may need to look at this for regions and countries.

YES!! I completely agree. I think we need to focus on the accountability or connection that support staff have with the denomination and possibly a salary grid will come out of that conversation. I have also never been encouraged to become a commissioned pastor. There are many other denominations where there is a requirement to receive credentialing within a year of being hired and most are required to have some Bible College training. Yet, in the CRC, I didn't know I could become a commissioned pastor as a youth director and I'm still thoroughly confused by the whole process. Personally, I would love to see all support staff become commissioned. 

Participant

Great observations Mel. Thanks for being willing to share them

Here in Ontario, I think using the Ontario Christian (High) School Teacher's Salary Grid and Benefits (OACS/OCSTA/Edifide) package is a fair way to benchmark a youth pastor's salary. The grid has marker's for various levels of education and experience and is regularly updated for cost of living.

Participant

Perhaps we can develop something with this model in mind.

Participant

For those of you who want to join this conversation privately, please email me at youthministry@crcna.org 

I truly appreciated the article and for the opportunity to wrestle a bit with this pay gap.  I have realized a similar gap in my ministry life as a discipleship pastor/ associate pastor.  My education included a masters degree in evangelism but was not an m div degree. I felt as though my schooling and experience in ministry was similar to that of most preaching pastors in the CRC, however my pay was more like 50% of their pay.  So it does seem to be a good question for churches and the denomination to work through in regards to addressing this disparity.  Thanks for addressing this!!

Participant

Thanks for sharing Todd. Your experiences are noted. We will see where the conversation goes.