How does a church decide what to pay a pastor?

My dear friend, fellow pastor, and Practical Shepherding board member Eric Bancroft, answered this question for us when it was recently sent through our website.  Eric pastors Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN.  It was sent to us by a very thoughtful church planter’s wife who is trying to think through the issues involved with increasing the pay for her husband.  Because Eric’s answer was so wise and helpful, I thought I would allow the rest of you to benefit from his insights:

There are often several factors considered: (1) full-time vs. part time, (2) level of education, (3) location of church in the country, i.e. local economy, (4) average income of the membership, (5) level of responsibility, (6) cost of replacement of personnel, i.e. what others in similar roles in the area are being paid with a similar philosophy of ministry, etc..  One site that can be a help to you is:http://compstudy.lifeway.com/homepage.do;jsessionid=B169CE9F87C4E2F4315A1EAE376D6B05

How should a pastor (and his wife) view his salary, knowing that it comes from the tithes of the church members? He should be thankful for the Lord’s provision that he is able to minister full-time and receive compensation. He should guard his heart from
entitlement that comes from many working hours (some times, too many working hours). He should budget his money to show he is being a good steward. He should have reasonable expectations of what it means to provide for his family. He should be generous proportionate to his capacity.

How should a church think about the salary paid to the pastor and other staff?  The congregation should realize they are asking a pastor to serve full-time as an elder (instead of doing “tent-making” where he is likely able to make the same amount of money if not more). 1 Timothy 5:17-18 teaches that there are some elders that labor more in preaching and teaching. This is typically pastors who have been called by the congregation to serve even more in those specific roles. When a man does that a congregation should appropriately support him so that he is not tempted unnecessarily towards bitterness and discontentment because of how poorly they support him.  When they support their pastor(s) so that he does not have be distracted by the provisions for his needs it ends up freeing him up to be more focused on pastoring his family and his people. The congregation should also remember inflation so that they recognize paying him $40,000 ten years from now is not the same as paying him $40,000 today.

Lastly, I cannot recommend strongly enough the ministry of Stewardship Services Foundation. They deal with these issues all the time. They can speak to you or other people in the church and provide a non-bias opinion. In addition to providing free tax return service to those in ministry, they counsel churches regularly on these issues.  I have had their Executive Director come in and speak to our finance team, our elders, our church, and other groups in our church.  Their website is http://ssfoundation.net/ I would recommend you read the information on their site and then give them a call.

I hope this has been helpful to you.  May the Lord bless you and your husband and the ministry to which you are giving yourselves. May the Lord mature the people to the point where money is no longer a primary conversation but ministry is and money is just a manifestation of a ministry mindset of the people.

Posted in Home and Family, Oversight of Souls
One comment on “How does a church decide what to pay a pastor?
  1. Thanks for this post. I’m so glad Eric mentioned Stewardship Services Foundation. It is such an excellent resource!

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