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10. 2. 2023

Staff Health| Leadership

The Youth Pastor Compensation Survey 2020

| 2 min read

Written by Dan Navarra
Oct 6, 2020 11:45:00 AM

A few years back, I found myself in a situation almost every pastor has been in: I felt like I wasn't making enough money. I was a youth pastor, and I had a feeling that I wasn't alone. I decided to do some research to find out how my salary compared to others in my field. 


I soon found myself creating and sending out a simple Google Form that I posted on several Facebook Groups to see what my vocational colleagues were making. I hoped to take the results to my boss and provide evidence that I deserved a raise. 
At the end of the first day, I collected nearly 1,000 responses from Youth Pastors all over the United States! Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the data. I quickly realized that I had touched on a tender subject and that I had a responsibility to do something about the amount of hurt that surfaced through my research efforts. 
I suspect that many of you can tap into your brain's archives and remember a time when you were struggling to support yourself financially in a ministry role ...maybe you are now? What can anyone do? 
Statistically speaking, in Youth Ministry, you're worth at least 10% more to a church down the street than you are to your current congregation. Meaning, a church near you is likely willing to pay at least 10% more than your current employment rate based on your experience and education. Honestly, church's tend to be BAD at giving COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) raises, and rarely keep their team's wages competitive. 
If you've been around ministry for any length of time, my guess is that you also know these things to be true and, you too, have left a church for greener pastures. What's the bottom line? Compensation among pastors is a tough topic ... 
Through this process (and because I saw so much fruit from it), I took the next step to formalize the survey and publish my results. Four years and four installments of this survey later, I've literally seen thousands of Youth Pastors benefit from lifting the veil on clergy compensation and shedding light on one of the most taboo topics in the church: compensation. With around 5,000 Youth Pastors participating to date, this survey will again become the definitive document on 2021 compensation that senior leaders refer to in order to set fair compensation for their youth staff.
Youth Pastor compensation can be an incredible pain point among one of your church's most critical team members, as they are notoriously the lowest-paid member of your church staff. The days of hanging with kids in the church basement, eating pizza, and playing dodgeball for a $100 monthly stipend are long gone in Youth Ministry. 
Youth Ministry is now a specialized role at many churches, especially for more community-driven churches who are serious about pursuing the youth of their cities. Coincidently, loads of Youth Pastors want to turn their calling into a sustainable career, when just a generation ago this was not the reality of many emerging ministers. Now, colleges offer degrees in Youth Ministry, and there are multiple conferences devoted to the profession. 
Full-time Youth Pastor positions are here to stay. It's no longer a "stepping stone" for one day being a "real pastor" like it once was considered.  
Our data, year over year, shows that the industry has not caught up to this reality at quite the speed necessary to pay fair and sustainable wages. Consequently, Youth Pastor turnover is considered to be extremely high, with the average Youth Pastor lasting less than 24 months in their role (confirmed by several years of data gathered by previous surveys).  
If you're in your church's senior leadership and have a roll to play in setting compensation for your church's staff, our report is a vital tool for you to consider if you find yourself with Youth Pastors that never seem stick around long enough to see a freshman grow up and graduate.
What are the benefits of this survey? 
  • This survey is the primary data gathering tool of churchsalary.com 
  • This survey allows us to compile a FREE multi-page report. 
  • The results help Youth Pastors see if they are getting paid fairly and sets them up for success when negotiating salary.
  • The results help senior leaders and decision-makers within the church space better understand trends among that tribe, advocate for fair compensation, and learn best practices to set these youth ministers up for financial success. 


Please encourage your church's Youth Pastor to fill out the survey!  And then keep your eyes open for the results in January.
Take the Youth Pastor Compensation Survey
Do you want the results emailed to you as soon as they become available? Click here.

Dans Signature


P.S. I'm here to support you in ministry.  If you find yourself in need of hiring a new church staff member or in need of assistance in restructuring your staff, I'd love to have a conversation. 


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