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One Size Does NOT Fit All

One of the most common questions we get when helping churches relates to compensation. Here's a hint ... make sure it includes these three things.

Setting your team up for success financially


When I served as an executive pastor, the beginning of September was also the beginning of the budget planning season (please forgive the reminder). I am finding that many churches are realizing that they are needing to restructure their teams based on the way that ministry has changed in 2020. For some, this means rearranging people on their team, for others this may mean releasing people to pursue other opportunities (we can help with that), and for some, that means adding people to their team.


One of the most common questions we get when helping churches manage their search relates to compensation. While I wish that there were a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, the truth is that every church is unique and needs to answer this question for themselves. When dealing with salaries, I encourage churches to make sure that their compensation structure allows their team to do three things:

  • Model Generosity. Generous churches are led by generous pastors. Pastors set the tone for the church’s culture of generosity, which means having the ability to generously give. A salary that does not enable someone to tithe, support missionaries, give to those in need, or make other one time gifts will negatively impact your church's culture of generosity.
  • Minimize Stress. Ministry can be both incredibly fulfilling and incredibly stressful. Constantly worrying about making the rent payment or having to decide between buying groceries or a coat for their daughter adds a level of stress to a minister's life that ultimately hurts their ability to truly serve your church.
  • Enable Connections. Every neighborhood has a specific culture. In order to minister to that neighborhood, one needs to be able to engage the neighborhood in the manner in which it does life. In some neighborhoods this means developing relationships through children’s sporting events, others revolve around local community associations, and for some it is a country club. Whatever the cultural distinctives of the neighborhood you minister to, you need to ensure that your compensation strategy enables your team to engage the neighborhood in the way that they choose to be engaged with.

If you are able to do those three things, you are setting your next teammate up for success (you can find more resources on salary setting here).

On a semi-related note... Dan Navarra is one of Chemistry's Church Coaches and does a spectacular job helping churches find their next youth pastor. Over the last several years, Dan has conducted the Youth Pastor Compensation Survey as a way to help youth pastors and churches gain more insight into how churches pay their youth workers and what factors influence salaries. The 2020 edition of the survey is live now, and I would be honored if you would take a few minutes to participate in it:

Take the Youth Pastor Compensation Survey
Once the data is compiled, we will share our learnings.



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Matt Steen

Matt Steen

Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.

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