What does the average salary stand at for the church secretary?
The Importance of Secretaries
A church secretary is the person who is the first contact for almost everyone outside and inside of the church. He or she is often the first person someone makes contact with someone and they are the ones who make the first impression for the church and first impressions are usually lasting ones, and in some cases, the final one. When I worked in an office years ago, when someone needed to know something; when someone needed to find something; or when someone needed some help with something, the secretary was the first person they went to. The secretary probably knows more about what’s going on in an office than anyone else, including the boss, so do they get paid for what they are worth in a church or in the world? Does anyone? What can a church secretary expect to draw for an annual salary? What about a regular secretary’s job?
A Secular Secretary
The secretary that works for a business does a lot better than a church secretary does because churches are non-profit, but even a secular secretary’s salary is not very impressive. For example, the median expected annual pay for a typical Secretary in the United States (Census, 2010) was $35,316, meaning that 50% secretaries in the United States are expected to make less than $35,316 a year or about $12.42 an hour. Even though these figures are from a few years ago, they are probably not much different than today. In fact, the cost of living has easily been outstripping any raises that they might have received. If they only realized that the secretaries screen and transfers callers, arranges meetings, keeps records, forwards mail, maintain office supplies, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Church Secretary Salaries
There are differences of course among church secretaries because some only work part time so not all church secretaries work forty hour weeks but for those that do, in 2016, the average salary for a church secretary was $28,000 a year. That salary is 52% below the national average of salaries in the United States. For many smaller churches, the secretaries are volunteers and some are bi-vocational, meaning they do secretarial duties at the church while working another job. That’s close to what happens in smaller churches where the pastor has to work to support himself and his family, meaning he is also bi-vocational. When compared to the average salary of a secular secretary ($35,000), it’s not that much below it but when you compare the salaries of secretaries with other salaries, it is well below what most people earn. Even though it’s not a glamorous position to hold, it’s one of the most critical in the well-functioning of a church. They are nearly indispensable in this regard.
The church I attended when I was younger had a church secretary that made that church run. She was the lifeblood of it. When she got sick, it seemed that everything came to a screeching halt. The vital knowledge, skills, and experience of that godly woman were taken for granted by everyone. When she came back to work, to sort out a mountainous mess that was left in her absence, she received the acknowledgement that she should have gotten in the first place. There is no way we can replace someone who has excelled at their job, understood the individual members, and knew just about everything that there was to know in that church. Not only that, she lived her faith and no one needed to tell her, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” (Eccl 9:10), just as Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24).
I hope this makes you appreciate just how important a secretary is in business and in a church. You cannot learn what they have learned from experience in any textbook. It takes time, patience, endurance, determination, and years just doing it, for a secretary to become such a valuable asset to the church. Everyone notices when they’re gone since everything comes to a crashing halt. That’s why some offices have the position of “Secretary II,” which gives the office a little backup in the event the main secretary, whoever he or she is, isn’t able to do their job. It’s too easy to take them for granted…until they’re gone!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the 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 Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.