How Well Should Pastors Be Paid?

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Jim's picture

The issue is often "how much". A proposed solution:

  • Say have a church with 6 deacons. 1 is retired
  • Have the 5 working deacons bring in their pay stubs to a deacons meeting. Have a trusted individual (or two) view
  • Annualize: because some are paid weekly, others bi-weekly, others perhaps monthly
  • Take the annual number and add 10%

(Note to pastors: if you have anesthesiologist in your church ... get him on the deacon board!) 

Mike Harding's picture

Well-written article.  Love the the suggestion Jim. Made me laugh.

Pastor Mike Harding

mmartin's picture

Good article!  Well said.  Balanced perspective.

Ron Bean's picture

A thoughtful deacon In my first church, conducted a meeting like the one Jim Peet suggested. It was an interesting meeting that resulted in my pay and vacation time both being doubled. I'm pretty sure it didn't add up to the average of their pay, but it was a vast improvement.

What about churches, and I hear of many, that claim to be unable to support a pastor?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

TylerR's picture


I am a great deal younger than most of the Pastors in this forum (I won't divulge just how young!), but I have something to contribute to this. I am convinced of two things:


  • Pastors must be willing to be bi-vocational. I think it is sad when a Pastor has no secular skill-set, and he is forced to take a menial job with low pay to augment his church salary. By the grace of God, I have credentials and a BA in a secular field, and was able to snag a $68k per year contractor gig at the Navy base while I went to Seminary. 

    • I came to my current church knowing they couldn't afford me full-time. All they could offer was a parsonage and $800 per month. I left the $68k per year gig and moved my whole family down here to work for $800 per month, and took advantage of my veterans preference to apply at about 10 government jobs in Springfield. Along the way I thanked the Lord for my BA! 
    • Once I got here, the church surprised me by declaring they decided they owed me more than $800 per month. They upped it to $2000 per month on faith, and by God's grace the church is doing just fine financially. Would this have happened if I'd turned the church down because $800 wasn't "good enough?" Not sure. But I think we ought to be willing to be bi-vocational. 


  • I think some churches really could "afford" a Pastor, if they really wanted to. I was speaking to an acquaintance a few months back. He goes to a very small church (not as small as mine, though!), and his Pastor is very elderly - 80+. I asked when the man was going to retire, or if any plans were in the works to find a replacement, etc. My acquaintance shook his head. "We can't afford it," he said sadly. "We're a small church, and the Pastor says they're not big enough to attract anybody to replace him." 

    • Sometimes, this is the case. However, the church in question owns their building and has no bills other than utilities. I looked back on my own experience and thought, "Can they really not afford it? Or, do they not want to?"
    • The Pastor I took over for is 81. He flat out told the congregation before they started their search, "I'm old. I don't have it anymore. If you want this church to continue, we need somebody younger and we need to be willing to take care of him. Otherwise we might as well close down right now and save ourselves some trouble." 

I've never been in a position where the Pastor wasn't taken care of. I've heard enough stories, though. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ken Woodard's picture

This is what I have seen:

1. Only people who have had their own business or were managing personnel will think about pastor's salary being sufficient. Union members won't even consider it. They will strike for their own wages but not the pastor because he is viewed as management.

2. Our ministerial students are being trained to consider salary and step over churches that can't afford much to go raise support for "church planting". A church that is new will be struggling as much or more than a church that has been in existence. They should consider rebuilding rather than abandoning and starting new. But the "church planter" will receive praise.

3. We are all church planters. Just some have been growing longer.

4. I came to a church that couldn't afford much. God has blessed beyond my wildest imagination. 

5. Walk by faith not sight. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture


Walking by faith doesn't demand blind leaps though. A pastor with three young children in the home is going to need more than an empty nester, and is going to be less able to be bi-vocational if he is going to fulfill all his duties as a pastor, husband and father. God never called us to stupid faith; He tells us to count the cost as well as trust Him.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JC's picture

I believe the pastor should be paid at a similar level to the average person in the congregation.