Average Pastor Salaries in United States Churches

What are the average pastor salaries in the U.S?  Are they comparable to what work a pastor puts in?  Are they below or above other average salaried positions for those with at least a college degree?

The Two Lowest Paid Professionals

It may reveal what we value the most and what we value the least in society as to who are the best paid and who are the worst paid professionals in the U.S.  Of all the degreed professionals in America, the two lowest paid professions are in this order; pastor and teacher.  Some would argue that teachers hold the most important position in society next the parents and so why do they seem to be so severely underpaid?  It is obvious because society values athletes, CEO’s, engineers and other positions of prominence.  It seems that the higher the prestige, the higher the pay.  Is this a reflection on our values as a society?  It may well be because this is similar to the scale in other nations too.  Despite the fact that pastors and teachers put in the longest hours every week and have to continue their education the receive the least in salaries and so it is easy to see why the average pastor only lasts about 10 years now in the profession and that many teachers will change to better paying jobs instead of retiring in their profession. Who could blame them?  Teachers get blamed for much of what is wrong with children these days even though that responsibility lies with and begins with parents.

Pastors who make over a hundred-thousand dollars are the rare exception and they are confined to the mega-churches.

Highest Paid Pastors

It is easy to connect that the largest churches, often called mega-churches, come with mega-salaries.  Just this year Dr. Robert Jeffress stated in a sermon where he went into a clothing store to buy a suit.  The pastor was curious and so asked what the most expensive suit in the place was, knowing full well that he couldn’t afford it.  The man brought back a suit that was tailor made for a pastor of a mega-church that cost $60,000!  Sadly, this same pastor boasted that he could afford it…he drew a $200,000 salary per year…plus expenses.   One pastor of a mega-church drew a salary of just over a quarter of a million dollars.  Dr. Jeffress said that he about fell over and bought a suit that was reasonably priced at about $200.   Pastors who make over a hundred-thousand dollars are the rare exception and they are confined to the mega-churches.

Lowest Paid Pastors

As you might expect, most of the lowest paid pastors are those who have the smallest churches.  Some receive only what is called a pulpit supply fee of about one hundred dollars a week.  They get no benefits like health insurance, car insurance, expenses for clothing or school, and vehicle.  Many have no salary at all and work for nothing (at least on this earth).   Many others are bi-vocational and have to work to support themselves since the church either has no means to support him or they decide that they won’t support him.  The latter is a sad state of affairs indeed and there is little hope of revival in that church.

Average U.S. Pastor Salaries

According to a 2012 in the Christian Post on September 4th, 2012, The Leadership Network stated that the average salary for mega-churches was $147,000 in 2010 but the lowest paid salary was zero!  That is, there are those who have churches that have no money and are so small that the pastor receives no support so the scale starts at the top with about $600,000 with the bottom at $0.   Now, what are the averages and are they increasing as fast as the rest of the population with degrees?  The answer to the latter part of that question is irrevocably and dogmatically no.  Pastor salaries, as are teacher salaries, are not keeping up with others with professional degrees, with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.   According to the National Association of Church Business Administration, the average pastor in 2012 received an annual salary of $28,000.  One out of five pastors has to work a second job to support himself and his family.  The average pastor’s salary of $28,000 a year is close to that of a teachers’ average salary in the United States which is $42,000 a year.  As I stated before, these are the two lowest paid professionals with degrees in the nation.

Conclusion

A pastor’s real rewards are not for this life but the life to come.   If they only had rewards for this life, they would be most miserable indeed.  Like believers, they work for an imperishable crown (1 Cor 9:25) and not for accolades or applause.  If they did, they would be in the wrong business.  The most valuable thing that they can do is to feed the flock and to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  Every one of us will be rewarded according to what we have done on earth and when Jesus returns, He will bring each a reward that has been earned (Rev 22:12).  So my pastoral advice to you, whether you are an under-shepherd like me or a lay member in the church, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design

photo credit: Flickmor via photopin cc

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  • momtarkle

    Keep on keepin’ on! Good food, nice clothes, and a nice house for your family are gonna be so good for you and your family in heaven! Praise the lord!

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Momtarkle. As I told Mrs. Magana, I myself am a bi-vocational pastor and have to work to support myself since my salary is $100 about every 3 out of 4 Sunday’s and that’s fine by me. I think pastors should be supported but the huge, mega-churches are not biblical that pay pastors huge sums of money. I would rather have 60,000 prayers in my life for His glory that $60 K in a salary for then I might forget my Lord and depend upon my own wealth and trust in it instead of God.

      • Prophet Eric Devon Taylor

        I would like to know how can you say the mega church is not biblical. You do not know what they did to get that amount and they may be favored!

        • Jack Wellman

          I do not mean that its not okay to have a mega church but its just that we don’t see many of these in the New Testament churches.

        • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

          I’m sorry Prophet, I have to agree with Mr. Wellman. I have an Internet group and I may spend 12 plus hours ministering daily with no expectation of salary. A ministers role in the church today was influenced by the Vatican. Hebrews 7 talks about the role of the priest and tithes. Christ priesthood had no successor as he became our everlasting, incorruptible High priest. He is the only one that mediates with God on our behalf, having experienced the flesh. Our shepherds are supposed to be teachers. They are supposed to teach us how we can have open communication with God. Instead they create seminaries and try to turn a calling into a profession like it is suggested in this article. They position themselves as middlemen with the intention of creating a need for a 24/7 shepherd. Gen 6:3 God said my spirit shall not always strive with man. Accordingly his years are 120. That’s six thousand years. Every detail about your life has been seen and written. God may use his shepherds to maneuver us into position where we are supposed to be, but he will also use whomever is willing. Tithes are not in the new covenant. God’s ministry will be supported. The most successful mega church minister out there (Osteen) isn’t even preaching God’s word. He’s preaching prosperity and universalism. Peter and Paul supported themselves. Truth is truth. Repentance is becoming a lost message to prosperity. Church’s have staffs and associate pastors. Nobody needs a six figure salary for answering God’s calling. Pay is for skill and demand. You don’t need a degree to preach God’s word. There are more churches than people to fill them. Minus the pomp and flare the word is the word. You can’t change my situation or circumstances. With faith we can move mountains but I can’t move them for you because you pay tithes faithfully.

          • http://www.un-a-bridged.com Zachary Frazier

            True, you do not need a degree, but because of the lack of Biblical education in recent years we do need educated people to help us understand. A lack of Biblical education contributed to the Holocaust because people did not understand their Bibles.

            The ministry certainly should not be a profession in which one can acquire great material wealth, but there is something to be said for enabling our teachers to work without the distraction of a second job. Of course there are advantages to being bi-vocational as well! I wonder if any person who thinks ministers work for free think any other calling should be pursued without provision?

          • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

            I believe God equips his ministers. Many pastors have never been formally educated. I know for a fact that education is not understanding. You can read it but if you are not in the right spirit, you will not receive from God. I do not paint all ministers with a broad brush. My parents were bi-vocational ministers. I have seen them pay church bills out of pocket because they understood and embraced their calling and not the financial aspects of ministry. The article calls it a profession. Seminaries are an attempt to legitimize it as a profession. I think the expectation of wealth can attract those who are not called as well. Levites didn’t have a choice. We do. I believe if God had his way and the ministry was all on message, ministers would be interchangeable. Most are trying to establish their own piece of the pie for money and glory. People like Osteen not even preaching God’s word. Provision is fine but how many of our clergy really need to be 24/7? Teach reality instead of prosperity. Teach God’s will instead of bountiful blessings. Teach that God rains on the just and the unjust. This life is a test and we have to endure. Teach them how to pray and they have the open line. Teach them repentance opens communication. Teach them Jesus is the mediator. I can pray with you but not for you. Build their faith. They want to make people believe they are middlemen, a bridge and that is not God’s word. Shepherd is the equivalency. Low paying, low prestige but essential. God will provide. Think of your provision in terms of what you truly supply. Enough said on that. The holocaust was not about the Bible. It was about money. Jewish Gold in Vatican banks that they wanted to keep. They unleashed Hitler and made it look like ethnic cleansing. The Vatican has recently issued an apology. God bless.

          • http://www.un-a-bridged.com Zachary Frazier

            It is true that many pastors have not been formally educated, but more education can only help pastors, at least in their teaching role. If formal education is not an option then there is a lot of reading to do on their part. The Bible is 2,000 years old and not in English. Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is critical. There are ancient historical contexts to account for. There are literary devices that must be considered. I have heard it said that “the Holy Spirit has an unusual affinity for the prepared mind.” Bible teaching can be done without an education, but it will always be more effective with it. That is the function of institutions of theological education. Like the article indicated, this is not a vocation where people can go to get wealthy.

            -Zachary Frazier (www.un-a-bridged.com)

          • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

            A profession or vocation is based on services rendered. Outside of teaching, mentoring, counseling, weddings or funerals there are no services rendered to God’s people. You can’t pray for someone and guarantee results. You can pray with someone. God’s will supersedes all requests. Hebrews 24:7, pastors are not middle men or mediators to God. This is the role they take on to justify getting paid. Preaching prosperity when God rains on the just and unjust. There are tests and life lessons to be learned. Genesis 6:3 God said my spirit shall not always strive with man, he is flesh. He gave us 120 jubilees. He is not popping out the woodwork every time we get in trouble. Tithing is not in this new covenant. I couldn’t tell by walking in a church. Ministers overvalue the services they provide. At least if they want to tell people they have to tithe and give they could do more with it than try to earn a living. People are homeless and starving. Churches could employ more. If someone needs a church to support them 365 for a few hours a week of doing God’s work, maybe they don’t need a church. You can still do God’s work. That is why God said many are called but few are chosen. Levites didn’t have a choice.

  • Beatriz Magana

    For some time, I thought that if you glorified the Lord and worked for your money, it would be ok to live in luxury. This thought was confirmed some time ago, by a friend who has been a Christian longer than I and she indulges in plastic surgeries, $300+ name brand purses….she justified it by saying that she earns her money by working hard and glorifying God and she tithes. But, the more I read the word, and the more intimate I become with the Lord, I am convicted of this thought. If the Lord blesses us financially, I believe that it is not enough to tithe our 10%, but it is our Christian duty to care for the least of them. Recently, I have had a heavy heart for those who are in third world countries, and I am praying that the Lord provides a way for mission work for my family and I. We are all Christians and are eager to pay off our debt so that we can spread the gospel everywhere. We are not concerned with building wealth, or buying $60,000 suits, but rather our overwhelmed hearts just want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Even if somehow we come into money.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mrs. Magana. I myself am a bi-vocational pastor and have to work to support myself but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I so agree with you. I would rather have 60,000 prayers in my life for His glory that $60 K in a salary for then I might forget my Lord and depend upon my own wealth and trust in it instead of God.

  • Jose Francisco Rios

    When did any of the apostles in the NT consider personal financial compensation for giving God to others? Many church building groups, when it comes time for the offering prayer talk about how the early church laid everything they had at the apostles feet for the futherance of the gospel. They also say that if we are not giving 10% of our financial resources then we are robbing God and we are being cursed.

    There are a few things that i’ve never been able to grasp biblically I’ve listed two of them below.:

    1. The giant offering that the church gave in the book of Acts was specifically used to preach the good news throughout the world. It wasn’t used for the apostles to buy houses or cars or suits to “further the gospel”. Because that is more important then feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, clothing the naked. All the other apostles had regular jobs or were taken care of supernaturally. So why are pastors of church boxes still getting a paycheck? Yes, I agree that the workman is worthy of his wages. I know that pastors work very hard at keeping their box structure functioning. I also enjoy “going to church”. They have to pay for electricity, cleaning supplies, general maintenance, children’s materials etc… They should all be paid for doing this work. If you had a friend who built a nice box structure and was holding wonderful worship events and was hosting a constant place for believers to gather wouldn’t you want to help them too? I would and still do. But why are we in a building in the first place?

    2. When Yeshua died and rose again the tithe curse was broken. We are no longer under a curse but under grace. Let every one give in joy of spirit and not out of conflicting, wrongly-convicting-thinking. (2 cor 9:6-10)

    If we are called to tithe, and if tithing is a commandment that we must follow, then lets build a physical storehouse and keep the tithe in there (the first fruits of our increase). Then after three years we can open the store house and feed everyone. So why is monetary tithing still taught as a commandment of a Holy God?

    here is a great resource i’ve found:

    http://www.prophetic.net/tithe.htm

    Thanks for reading!

    • Terrence Carr

      Point of correction the offering given in Acts was to ensure the needs of all the people in the church were meet.

      Acts 2:44-45 (NASB) And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

      Note the, “had all things common”. It was a community of shared resources.

      The reality is there is no biblical example of how to do church because the first century church believed Jesus was returning in their life time and the way they lived and gave was indicative of that belief. It’s easy to give up everything when you are not expecting to have children or grandchildren.

      If we think about it, it doesn’t take money to preach the gospel to the world it takes committed Christians living out the great commission. Our pastors should not be taking the gospel to the world they should be equipping the church to take the gospel to the world. Starting with the world you live in, family, friends, co-workers, the cashier at the store, etc…

      Note on the tithe: It should not be legalistically taught but a tithe is a good starting place for giving. If we truly valve God, ministry and the poor why then is so little of our income given to either?

    • lord vuga

      Dont get infected with the judas syndrome (john12:5-6)

    • http://www.un-a-bridged.com Zachary Frazier

      The reality is that grace is more demanding than Law. See Matthew 5:43-48. Some still tithe out of ignorance of Biblical teaching, and others tithe (10%) because it is a good, sound number. My wife and I give 10% because that is affordable and helps the church (which is a building/institution owned by its members) pay its bills. That building and the work done in and through it is what we have in common. I suspect that if every member chipped in about 10% and the wealthier did a little more, then there would be no limit to what the churches could accomplish.

    • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

      This is a broad brush article which isn’t good since ministry varies. When you talk about salaries and benefit packages it really does sound like a profession. As a profession, in terms of actual services rendered, ministers are actually one of the highest paid professions. Start with a base of 52 weeks of a three hour Sunday service in which 40 minutes to an hour is spent actually teaching. I understand counseling, mentoring, weddings, funerals and hospital visits. Revivals. Hours to services rendered doesn’t stack up to a profession. Prayer is not a service. God’s will supersedes any requests. If ministers would understand the meaning of Genesis 6:3 they wouldn’t spend so much time making promises of God that they can’t deliver. Our services are rendered to God. Its ok to receive an offering. Salary and benefits I don’t understand. We can’t quantify the results of our work. There is no book of people we have personally saved. Can’t save anyone. This is a broad brush response to a broad brush article. It doesn’t apply to everyone. This is a calling to teach. In no way do we officially represent God like some middleman. We need to teach people that they can have the same relationship with God as we do. Maybe not the same calling but relationship. This Vatican, Vicar, little Pope model that we employ in today’s churches hurts everybody. It hurts outreach because people are too busy cultivating their own flocks to fleece for a paycheck. They harp on tithes which are not in the new covenant so they can get paid while children and families in their communities go to bed hungry. We could employ more at least on a part time basis. People see that. Then we wonder why so many people have lost faith. I think some, not all are a disgrace to God and will soon be in for a rude awakening.

  • Dylan Gorman

    I want to be ordained and have a ministry, but money issues terrify me I must admit.

    The fact I’m not college educated doesn’t help things either.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mr. Gorman. I understand your concern. More and more pastors are bi-vocational, as I am, but the calling by God to be a pastor is so overwhelming (or at least should be, e.g. Jer 20:9) that it cannot be resisted and money or the lack there of will not keep a man from going into the ministry. God provides for those He ordains. You must trust Him.

    • Paul R. Jones

      The joy of a tentmaker ministry is greater than paid service. When you rely upon God for financial support and are willing to work to support your ministry then the full joy of service to God can be enjoyed. Working for a personnel committee is not a joyful experience.

  • Don Harris

    thats why im not in a black chruch today to many dummies,envy

    • Terrence Carr

      What part of the article said anything about the black church? Also, if your going to call people “dummies” perhaps you should not do so with multiple spelling and grammar errors.

    • Prophet Eric Devon Taylor

      May Yahweh bring healing. It will be alright. Trust Him Proverbs 3:5

  • Terrence Carr

    It is interesting that in a article that states how almost all pastors are grossly underpaid. In fact The most underpaid degreed profession in the US which says something about what we truly value, then most of the comments focus on the one pastor with a $60,000 suit. Using him to justify not investing in ministry and properly compensating those who preach the Gospel and provide them with enough that they can spend most of there physical and mental energy on ministry instead of a secular job to feed their family.

  • Prophet Eric Devon Taylor

    This was a very good article, thanks for the encouragement!

  • Terence Hayes

    This article speaks to many of us in ministry. I’m a bivocational pastor and I minister for the love of God and his people. The scripture declares “muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn”. I’m working towards my Masters degree and my salary is not even $20k. God will always make a way.

    • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

      What you are doing is admirable, but expected. Ministry I a calling, not a profession. Tithes were for Levitical priests. Christ priesthood had no successor Hebrews 7:24. Ministry today is modeled off the Vatican. Shepherds are teachers. They are not officially licensed mediators or middle men between us and God. Supply exceeds demand. Where did people get the idea of the 24/7 clergy? If congregations find out they have an open line to God, the switchboard operator becomes obsolete. Shepherds are teachers. Unfortunately some of the other comments out here suggest they feel otherwise.

  • Bishop DrJohn Tjikunga Phd

    This article speaks to many of us in ministry. I’m a Presiding Bishop and I minister for the love of God and his people. The scripture declares “muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn. God will always make a way.

  • Eric Skaggs

    Blessings to all the bi-vocational pastors. It must really take a lot of extra time that folks take for granted.

    Does your church pay any/all of the bi-vocational elders, deacons and musicians according to their time spent preparing and encouraging the flock with you? But that never translates, does it? Maybe pay for a musician or two if the church is big enough. But most churches I’ve seen can never quite afford to pay “laypersons.”

    Oh, and don’t forget pastor appreciation month in October! Let’s see, when is Deacon appreciation month? Or musician’s sabbatical?

    Pastors got it so rough.

    • Eric Skaggs

      Full disclosure: I got taken to task by my wife who said I forgot to include Sunday school teachers in the above list.

      My point is this; I hope you’re not complaining to your volunteers about your thankless, low-paid job. They are the ones who are rowing the boat that you are guiding. Or threshing out the wheat (talk about muzzling the ox). Some pastors do well by their workers. Most that I’ve seen use them up without blinking an eye.

      How do you react when one of your volunteers can’t make it on a given Sunday? That may tell you which kind of pastor you are.

  • Matt Magill

    All of these numbers are either made up or heavily doctored. The only sources cited for information on a pastors salary are extremely unreliable sources with no professional qualifications making their information credible. You will not find pastor ranked among the bottom of the payscale for jobs that require a degree from any source that derives information from taxes and official pay. Any site that you read they make very little money in comparison to other professionals will also have their information coming from the pastor himself, a source with ties to the pastor outside of research, or no sources at all. I guarantee this. Don’t let pastors fool you into thinking that they live in poverty. Some pastors do, but on average pastors make far more than double the amount stated in this article.

    • Ben Elio

      You should produce some sources to counter, since you so candidly proclaimed that these sources were not reputable. If you don’t, you’re just calling the kettle black. I certainly am skeptical that the 28K salary mark is the average, but I certainly don’t think the majority of pastors are making good money. Th executive pastor at our church works a second job to help support his family. The lead pastor has a modest salary, certainly below the national average, but he is able to provide for his family of 5.

      • Montresor

        Median $89,298 (http://www1.salary.com/Pastor-Salary.html)

        Even without reference though, take into account that churches need not pay taxes (I didn’t say pastors don’t, I said churches). Average church size in America is 75 people. (http://prodigalthought.net/2011/01/26/the-average-church-size-in-america/) Average household income in America of $51,939 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States). Then average 10% tithing for a church of 75 parishioners in America. So we will say all parishioners are families and cut the 75 in one-third. 25 x $5193 = $129,825. Yes, I understand that some money goes to the church rent, and bills, and then some overhead. Point is… it’s not zero.

        • PC

          The average tithe of the regular church-goer is actually close to 2.5% http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/what-would-happen-if-church-tithed

          That being said, payscale.com lists the average pastor salary as 45k a year, which is around what I make as a pastor. I was in a cohort group of pastors getting their doctorate degrees and we all wrote our salaries on the wall. There were about 10 of us. I was a little on the high end.

          http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Pastor/Salary

          • Montresor

            PC, ok, seems you are honest. So my question to you then is how many hours a week do you spend working. Now I say working as I don’t fully know what a pastor does outside of writing and delivering a sermon. So my uninformed belief would be it’s a matter of say 8-12 hours. I imagine you have to run the church somewhat like a business and have to ensure things are running smoothly on the business end of things, though I would also imagine most churches have volunteers that do things like church secretary, church finances, etc, etc. Again, I imagine this also varies from church to church but the size of the church would also vary those responsibility. I would also include religious services provided by yourself unless said services are an additional charge/donation (i.e. marriage ceremonies, etc). Unless said donation is not considered additional income.
            The reason I ask mainly, is that teachers (who are extremely valuable and still underpaid) really only work 9 months out of the year and I am just wondering if this is equitable to amount of time spent (which I am not saying it is/isn’t). Also, if you don’t mind the inquiry, how large is your congregation?

          • Tricia

            Most pastors have masters degrees (4 year long program). They work 40 to 50 hours a week. If he only worked 8-12 hour weeks he would be fired…come on you have to kidding me with that. Running a church is very much like running a business, no one questions if the CEO is working even if they don’t see him/her working. Visiting the sick, elderly, new babies, marital counseling, youth group trips, VBS, these things don’t even touch on what he does.

          • Haig McCarrell

            No to mention outreach work, maybe working with the homeless, at a shelter, people with addictions, the jobless, working in ppor neighborhoods, with immigrants or refugees, etc, etc. It is evening work often, with no differential and to some extent interferes with family life. Most pastors are not overpaid.

          • PC

            My church has around 300 people in it with 4 full-time pastors and 1 part-time secretary. I work in a ethnic Chinese church which means we have two congregations (chinese speaking and english speaking) and I’m the pastor of the English congregation which is a smaller portion of the whole church. it’s around 50-60 regular attendees. 30-40 of them are youth (teenagers and the rest are adults so even in my congregation we have two ministries.

            As to hours that I work, i probably average around 50-60 hours a week. For example today I came into the office late, around 10, had a pastoral staff meeting to discuss church health and also some church-wide initiatives that we’re going to implement as well as deacon board leadership training. That was until 12 or so. I spent most of the afternoon doing some administrative work, spent time planning out our weekend baptism at the beach, and then prepped the training material for our missions trip to Asia. I’m in charge of prepping our missions team to go to Asia to work with a local church to do outreach, evangelism, etc. That means training materials, figuring out fundraising (approx 20k), logistics, etc.) The meeting was at night so I just stayed at the church office til now so all in all i’ll have been in the office for 12 hours today. Most of my time goes to prepping messages/teaching and then leadership development for our lay leaders, the normal admin stuff that comes with that, and then visitation. There’s a few things that I do with other local pastors to help us grow. Outside of normal office hours and not including our sunday services, I have 3 nightly meetings a week and I also have 5 1x a month meetings. On a light week I’ll generally spend probably around 45 hours or so and then a heavy week can be up in the 70′s depending on the season. That being said, I feel like I am well taken care of even of my hourly rate is not high compared to other masters degrees. 45k a year puts me in the top 3% of the world in terms of income. Also, my church is my family so spending time with them is like being in my home and doing things for my household. Btw, it sounds crazy but putting together a message itself takes around 8-12 hours on average. nuts right? :)

          • Melissa Johnson

            I don’t what church you’ve ever been involved in, Montresor, but I don’t know of ANY pastor who only works 8-12 hours. Most I know put in at LEAST 40 hours (even when they’re only part-time). They have sermon preparation, church admin duties (not all churches have a secretary – ours doesn’t!); and all manner of fires to put out, usually. They also visit shut-ins, people in the hospital, do counseling, curriculum planning, mission trips, VBS, baptisms, etc. We are a small church – about 50 members – and our pastor started out making nothing (fortunately, his wife works full-time, and carries their family’s health insurance). When the church was finally able to pay him a salary after about a year, he started out at about $18K. It’s been nearly 12 years now, and he’s still only at about $25. And our associate pastor who is part time is only at $12K or so. He works full time as a maintenance supervisor at a local “mega-church.” He certainly couldn’t support his family of 5 on just what we pay. Do we wish we could pay them more – much more? Oh yes. But we do what we can with what we’re given. Not everyone in the church tithes 10%, and even if they did, our church is mostly filled with retired folk, or middle-class who only make, at most, $50-$60K a year. And 50 members does not mean 50 individual families, so that reduces the number who can give, also.
            Now, at another church we used to go to, the pastor was at one time making close to $90K, but that’s by far the exception for most churches in our areas.
            This article may not have cited sources, but I found it to be fairly close to what I know to be true from the experiences of our friends who are pastors. (I went to a Bible college, so we have a lot of friends in the ministry). The pastor making high 5 figures or more is rare – very rare, at least in our circle! And we DO have a friend who is a pastor of a teeny church that can’t pay him, so he works full-time at a different job. We know many others who are fully bi-vocational, like our associate pastor.

          • Sheree

            You are obviously not a Christian & don’t have a clue what is involved in being a Pastor. I know many Pastors who do not & can not take any salary from the church they Pastor because the church simply doesn’t have the funds being very small churches. (and where we live there is a very small church on every street).. People are suppose to tithe 10% but only about 3% of people actually do! Being a Pastor is one of the most demanding jobs there is. Saying you don’t fully know what a pastor does outside of writing and delivering a sermon & they work 8-12 hrs a week. What a ludicrous statement. Wow. I can’t believe a person actually ‘thinks’ that.

          • jerrysweany

            Any Pastor who is serious about preaching puts in 15 to 20 hours just to get the sermon done. That would include research, sermon outline and manuscript as well as delivery and sometimes memorization.

            The other items during the week involve leadership, administration, pastoral care, discipleship and other teaching responsibilities such as a home group or men’s study.

            That doesn’t count even planning the weekly service.

        • Nathan Bubna

          Hahaha. You think all the families tithe? Wow. That is so, so far from the reality. A church is lucky if the average % of income given is around 3%. That puts your number at around $39,000 in church income.

          And it’s not just some money that goes to church rent and bills. Have you ever looked into what it costs to have a building that can house 75 people at once, plus some office space, public bathrooms, childcare space, often smaller meeting rooms and even kitchens for midweek events? I believe the average church spends only around 60% of their income on all personnel. Granted, i haven’t looked that number up recently. But that still drops your number to about $23,400 for personnel.

          And if there’s only the one paid pastor, he (and his family) usually gets to mow the lawn, scrub the toilets, pay the bills, do counseling, visitations, and yes, prepare and give the sermon.

          I grew up with that, friend. I know these realities. My dad pastored a small church when i was a kid. We never went hungry, but we were quite poor. My dad worked full time at the church, and also did side-jobs teaching extracurriculars and coaching at my high school. Only after i was grown did he leave that church to work at a mega-church. Only then did they start to have money. All my life i’ve known many pastors and their families. I assure you, all of them work hard and none of them are in it for the money.

          Get to know a few yourself before you claim to know better.

    • Morgan Bolderman

      Matt you are ABSOLUTELY right!

    • BlooSoxx

      The minister who started my church in 1946 retired in 2008 at the age of 91. His annual salary during his last year was $29,000 plus an $8,000 car allowance to pay for gas, oil, and maintenance. Hardly the lap of luxury at 91.

    • Troy

      Matt,
      Where is your source? When you say ” I guarantee this”. By what authority? Do you have the stats? If anything I believe the article is incorrect because it is only counting pastors who are in the suburbs. We who are in the inner city don’t see $28,000

  • Jeff Brooks

    If a pastor feels that his salary / benefit package is not what it should be, that’s the pastor’s fault – not the churches fault. I think that a pastor should never accept a church “calling” without an agreed upon written contract. Every imaginable detail should be clarified in a written contract – that’s just being honorable business people.

  • G. W. Markle

    ~ JESUS THE COMMODITY ~

    ~ As Seen On TV ~ Televangelists, selling Jesus by the gram. Mega-churches ministered by evil men seeking wealth and power, deceiving those seeking spiritual guidance. Stealing their wages, stealing their souls and telling them how they want them to vote. All in the name of Jesus. ~ Anti-Christians ~ The scriptures flow as sweet as honey from their lips, seducing and robbing in the name of God. These are the ones Jesus spoke of that would come in the End Times and deceive many in His name. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

  • Eric Kuhns

    The median pay, as revealed by Payscale.com, is $44,972, and did you seriously just throw athletes and engineers into the same category? Engineers keep our economy afloat, where as churches don’t even pay taxes. If churches(a business) paid taxes, America would have made $80 billion+ just in 2014. I’m not sure how anyone can be proud of anything in this article.

    • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

      Churches don’t pay taxes so the government can regulate what is being taught. Ask someone about the dead sea scrolls, book of Enoch, Jubilees or Jasher and they freeze up and say they are not inspired. They don’t realize Pagan Rome decided what was and was not inspired. If ministers preach the true word of God they would be out of a job. That is why the the minister that depends on the church for support is so dangerous to Christianity. There may be a handful of independent ministers in America that preach God’s word. The rest preach prosperity and blessings or stories that we can read for our self. Motivational speakers who expect pay for their craft. The ministry ceased to be about God with the invention of the 24/7, 365 minister. The few that are real became a model for those seeking employment for a noble calling. They adhere to fancy titles like apostle, prophet and bishop to set themselves apart when they are supposed to be shepherds. I believe prophesy guides us. There were only 12 apostles. Hebrews 7:24 says Christ’s priesthood has no successor so bishops should stay on the chess board. Religion will be responsible for the apostasy. There is no one on message and God told us when he was coming back, except for the day and hour. If a minister can’t tell me that, he surely doesn’t deserve to get paid.

      • Guest

        Neither one of you whipped dogs know what you’re talking about. You’re jealous and greedy like Judas was. Have a splendid day.

        • https://www.facebook.com/thewordrestored Paul V Piper

          Obviously n a Christian. Obviously a coward because you signed in as guest and can’t use your real name. Obviously not intelligent because I was speaking against greed. I stand by everything I said because it is word based. Haven’t fact checked but the gentleman said tax exempt status cost the U,S, 80 Billion. Instead of trying to pay salaries for people that don’t want to work that money could be used for outreach and feeding starving desperate people. God is the incorrupt judge and corruption will be exposed. Have a crappy day.

          • Guest

            Obviously you’re a butthurt little dork, obviously.

    • Haig McCarrell

      If a church is living out its mission, it is serving the community: feeding, counselling, encouraging, healing, at the churches expense. There ought to be no profits if the church is prophetic, so there would be no net income on which to pay taxes.

  • Peter McCallum

    Just wondering does the salary of $28,000 include housing allowance, and the other add ons that are yusually part of a pastor’s pay package? back when I was a pastor you had cash salary, and housing; housing usually got one closer to the average teacher’s pay.

  • Mike Spencer

    For the most part, the local church has a problem remunerating their pastors properly because they have not been taught a proper understanding of our position with respect to scripture. The pastor doesn’t preach sola scriptura, so how could he possibly expect that the congregants would give according to the new testament standard of joyful and generous giving. Most pastors are still preaching the Levitical law with regard to giving and conflating this law with the gospel. It should come as no surprise that their giving barely keeps the pastor alive or the local institution afloat as much more than this has been compromised by the current and cultural low view of scripture. I co-pastor a very small church of very poor people out of love. I expect that as I help to bring this church into full compliance with the scriptures, rightly divided, that I will be able to perform my function to the highest degree with pay. As for mega-church pastors, most are overpaid, but this is because they have adopted the false ecclesiology of the attractional-seeker-driven movement and aren’t actually doing the job of a pastor at all, but that of a CEO. They are a driving force behind the Biblical illiteracy in our nation and should be driven out of the pastorate

    • Scott Ratzloff

      Mike….I am in 100% agreement. The IC and most Mega-church pastors do not equip the saints for the work of the ministry and are more concerned with keeping the corporation viable as a business entity.

  • Daniel Moran

    Pastor Ed Young in Grapevine, TX, pastor of the third largest congregation in the United States, gets a salary of $1 million.
    http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/investigates/2014/08/06/13492060/

  • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

    Lowest paid, yes, and like teachers practically no freedom with their craft.

  • Samuel Lawson

    Different kinds of ministries have different sorts of returns. My wife is ordained into a music and resource-preaching ministry, and she has a negative income which we support with my job and a small network of supporters. Maybe one day, someone will decide to help this ministry grow and help to fund it to the point of being able to work full-time. Ministry is ultimately for people, and ministers cannot help but be ministers. It’s hard work, and it ought to pay more just like teachers’ salaries ought to start closer to $80k, but ultimately the only way ministry pays is when lots of people want to come alongside and help it grow by enabling the minister to focus on ministry. Not all ministries pique the interest of givers and investors. Sometimes you have to do what you feel is right without regard to the pay cheque.

  • Gypsy Woman

    For First Call Pastors in the ELCA, the guidelines are $38,000 based salary. The salary raises ONLY if said Pastor has a higher degree (PhD) or more than one degree. Insurance, etc is regulated by our denominational body. There are more dual calls (pastors serving two or more churches) than solo pastor calls. For many of the mainline denominations we have salary guidelines; we did not go into this vocation for money AND many of us half to pay back $80,000 in loans as well. Check your credible sources before you start bashing all pastors-not too many of us own our homes (we rent), and sometimes we have to rely on our spouse’s income (if we have one). $28,000 probably is not too far from the truth. Instead of knocking good pastors who are actually living out their call for justice and peace, and are on the front lines, why don’t you actually sit down and have a conversation with a real live Pastor and see what our Call and this Mission and Ministry that has been given to us by the Creator, is all about?

  • Brent Caulley

    As one of the lower paid ministers in this article, I can say that there is great deal of truth to these numbers. My income is that of a full time minimum wage earner in my state. that being said I worked in the field I first studied and then in the restaurant industry for years making more of an income then than now but I have never worried about money and my kids less than as a poor minister. God has provided us a way to stay safe and my wife and I even have life insurance and retirement, college and emergency funds. For me it has been one of the proofs of God’s love for me and my family that even though the numbers do not add up we need of nothing and I sleep without worry or fear because I have a great large family that will never let anything bad happen to us.
    This is all made possible through Christ’s Love in His Church.
    (P.S. One of my secondary jobs is at our local school and I think the teachers do not only deserve what they are paid but deserve far more with what they are up against. )

  • Rob Brown

    A Jewish friend of mine observed one time that a Rabbi should be paid the same salary as the average of people in the congregation. That seems reasonable.
    I have lived much of my ministry bi-vocationally as well, meaning that I could serve congregations which otherwise might not have been able to afford a pastor. Things are a bit tricky in retirement, but having lived without much during my working years, there hasn’t been much of an adjustment.

  • Pete Mitchell

    Surprising you didn’t mention LDS Bishops which is the equivilant of a Christian Pastor for this purpose. They make $0 while serving.

  • milchap

    I grew up in a parsonage and am a retired minister, so I have some ideas about how much a clergyman makes, especially in the United Methodist Church. When I was young, I had only one pair of shoes at a time. I wore hand-me-downs and second hand clothing. I couldn’t play Little League because my family could not afford to buy me a ball glove (I was the only lefty around). My first bike was a Christmas present when I was in the fifth grade and was used. We hardly every bought soft drinks and when we did, they came from a little bottler who sold not so good “pop”, but it was cheap. My father had an earned doctorate (not a D.Min or D.D.) and made considerably less than most men in the churches he pastored.
    Now, the situation, at least in my denomination, is drastically changed. The beginning salaries in my conference are about $35,000 plus perks. The perks?
    Housing, utilities, travel expenses, family-coverage health insurance, retirement benefits, lots of deductions, and, sometimes, an offset for Social Security, paid to clergy who are often too ill or “portly” to adequately perform their duties. And when that happens, we have a fund to assist in temporary disability. We are looking at a $70,000 package for someone right out of seminary!

  • William John Meegan

    Never saw so much whining in all my life. I hope the Lord doesn’t forget this article when the cry baby minister stand before him.

  • Eric

    I Call BS…This is a sweeping generalization. Sure there base salaries may be low, but many of them get full expenses paid this and that. (no mortgage payments!). And allot of these people can live off “donations” alone.

  • Melinda J.

    Hi Jack. I cam across this article through a friend and I was excited when I saw that it was written by you because we are acquaintances. This article brought a stronger awareness that most pastors do what they do for little or no compensation. It’s okay, because the reward awaiting them is far greater than any earthly reward. God bless.

  • Mark

    As a pastor, I am bi-vocational. I take a “living expense” salary which covers my rent + $200. God has blessed me with the ability to work another job a couple of days a week to earn extra income. Most of the pastors I know in my community make less than $30,000/year. That being said, there are other professions that require degrees that pay less. I used to work as a case manager for troubled youth for the State of Tennessee. This position required a four year degree and paid $18K a year.

  • Andrew Dowling

    This is a misleading article.

    1) “Averages” are a horrible barometer of measuring salaries because of outliers skewing the numbers . . “median” salary would be a superior measure.

    2) Many pastors get perks that are worth a lot but not apart of their direct compensation . . this can include housing, phone bills, insurance, water, education expenses etc.

    3) ANYBODY can become a pastor . . it requires no accreditation or any qualifications to speak of (of course. larger established churches have their own standards). Why should a “pastor” of some tiny shack church in rural Alabama be making a healthy salary? Just drive through the rural South and you’ll see TINY towns have 6-7 different churches. They should have zero expectation of healthy compensation.

    IMO this country spends WAY too much on pastor salaries and church building/’stadium’ upkeep as it is.

  • Pierre Savoie

    Haha, if pastors want money, they should get a degree in a subject-matter that has a DEFINITION.

  • Kash

    hahahaha
    have you seen the kind of kids these teachers produce?
    have you seen the kind of christians these pastors produce ( Pandering to culture, weak etc)
    pay is based on results…

    teachers and pastors have failed society and society knows that , hence they are less valued…

  • Bob Clark

    REWRITTEN POST because one should never write before the first cup of coffee. . I disagree with all my heart with this statement, and no, I do not take the Bible literally . ” Every one of us will be rewarded according to what we have done on earth and when Jesus returns, He will bring each a reward that has been earned (Rev 22:12)” This argument was offered by the author of an article in Patheos Progressive Christian regarding pastor salaries. I am not a pastor, but I do not expect any REWARD. For what? We should love one another without expectations. Pastors should be paid on par with standards for educational attainment in similar professions. As far as the author of the article,and many others like him, is concerned ; never attempt to explain a metaphor or concept in the Bible that was probably confusing to the ancient mind. And PLEASE, never leave the reader with a visual of Jesus acting like Santa Claus saying, “Yeah, I know you did convert and save souls for me and did not get paid very well for it, so here is a little gift to make up for all the humbleness you had to endure during your life on earth”‘ Just tell it like it is.

  • The Comet

    This is a broad brush article and doesn’t look all organizations. These pastors are usually paid by the local congregations not under a central organization. Take a church like the Seventh-day Adventist Church and all pastors are paid on a scale based on years and education. Size of the church doesn’t matter because there is a central organization their pay is handled through called a Conference Office.

  • Blayne Wyatt

    Source.

  • Rust Cohle

    “The life to come” isn’t coming.

    Michael Martin& Keith Augustine (2015) The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

    Afterlife is just a story you tell yourself to manage the terror of mortality salience. 400+ empirical studies back up this theory, called “Terror Management Theory.” http://www.tmt.missouri.edu

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB7xs7UpIfY

  • Alan

    Shame on Dr Jeffries for preaching in his sermon about that! Sounds like jealousy and envy has crept into his heart, but to gossip about it from the pulpit is horrid for a “man of God!”

  • ryansouth

    At most churches being a pastor is only a part time job. If you factor that in then that easily double the salary of a pastor.

  • simon patrick

    for the love of money is the root of all evil as yet they honor me with there lips but there hearts are far from me all these so called ministers ? pastors getting paid Mega dollars for ministering the gospel are cheats and lost souls ripping off the word of god for it says in the book of ACTS 8 / 20 for your money perishes with for you think that the word of god can be perched with money ??? for you are a vied of vipers evil and money hungry generation who think that the rich may enter the kingdom of god how wrong you are you are lost come to the truth come to the way come to the life come to JESUS CHRIST open your hearts and follow the true son of the living god you are blind guides ,,,, blind leading the blind also min the book of JAMES 2 / 1 , 13 read and understand you say that you are going to heaven for your deeds how wrong you are obey the word of god commandment’s the word of god is this ???? believe in his only begotten son JUSES CHRIST that is the word of the lord god almighty what is his name IAM , IAM THAT IAM , the god of Abraham the god of Isaac the god of Jacob that is my name onto all generation’s you bare blind of your father the devil REPENT and give your hearts to the king of kings lord of lords JESUS CHRIT pay onto him with all your hearts give all to him not your money your heats your life everything to him talk soon your brother in JESUS CHRIST Simon Patrick xoxoxo may the lord guide your hearts and bless you

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen Mr. Patrick. I have resisted the temptation to pastor a church with a full salary and benefits, yet the Lord has seen fit to keep me in a church with an unpaid salary and being a bi-vocational pastor (tent maker of sorts) I am trying to remain faithful without doing this for money for the true riches and treasures await us both in the kingdom. Thank you sir.

  • Paul Griffin

    None of the Apostles collected a salary. As itinerant ministers they were housed and fed. Paul insisted on his tent making skills so as not to be accused. Most modern Pastors are in it for the right reasons and not for profit. The ecclesiastical level above them can be another story. Earning an above average salary and benefits, driving a district car and charging mandatory honorariums when asked to preach while staying at first rate hotels, etc. Accountability can be scarce.


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