How does a church know what is fair?
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 for this question, the truth is that every church is unique and needs to answer this question for themselves. When dealing with salaries, I ultimately wanted our compensation structure to help our team 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.
With these three guidelines in mind, here are a few tools that I have used to develop a compensation strategy:
- Data USA. This helpful site helps to determine the cost of living in your area, as well as tons of other information. Using this as a guide will help you get a general sense of what it costs to live in your community.
- Church Salary. Our friends at Church Law and Tax have created a helpful tool that will allow you to see what other churches of comparable size and budget are paying for a position. This helps to develop a sense of what the "market rate" is for a position.
- Local School Board Pay Scales. In most jurisdictions, school teachers and administrators pay scales can be a helpful guide in structuring your church's compensation structure. Ministry staff, such as youth pastors and kid's pastors are comparable to a teacher with similar education and years in service. Senior pastors are comparable to a high school principal, and executive pastors are comparable to a high school assistant principal. This is not a hard and fast rule, but can be a helpful guide.
I use these three tools, along with a church's budget, to develop a salary range that will be attractive to candidates, while at the same time stewarding the church's resources well. It is a delicate dance, but doing this well will serve both your church and your team well. If this is something that you are struggling to master, I'd love to have a conversation. Click here to schedule a time to talk.