How much do you pay your pastor?

Pastor salaryAs I was doing research for one of the books I’m writing, I stumbled across the statistic that the average pastor’s salary in the United States is over…


Wow! Maybe I should get back into pastoral ministry…

Here are two sources which confirm this: and

My questions for you are two:

1. How much does your church pay your pastor? A rough ballpark figure is fine.

2. If the church had an additional $84,000 in their annual budget, would you hire another pastor, or do something else with it in the community?

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  1. Ant Writes says

    When I was an ass. pastor in Long Island, the senior was getting over $100,000, but it was “his” church. He didn’t have a board. The mortgage on the 5 building was in the millions, and around $1 million was given to missionaries yearly so he actually paid himself a lot less than he could have. (He paid the assistamt pastors a lot less too ;)) The church had 1,000 people, and there were a lot of rich people in the church..2 doctors and 1 lawyer and quite a few IT guys. But when I was in South Carolina, you got a free parsonage and $15,000 a year a you liked it!

    • says

      Yep! Pastoral pay disparity is quite large, especially from large churches to small churches. This is why so many pastors only “feel God’s call” to larger churches. It has nothing to do with the pay though…

  2. Ant Writes says

    Also, In Seminary I was taught that a pastor should never be paid less than the median salary of a give area.

    • says

      Yes, I heard that too. I would like to see some sort of equation that includes median income of area, number of years of education of pastor, number of years of experience, all in comparison with people in the area with similar numbers, and then base pastoral salary on that.

      I think I read a Leadership Journal article about this years ago, but cannot remember the title or author.

      • says

        When we were part of the IC, I actually did something very similar to what you are suggesting in more than one community and for more than one church. I usually managed to be on the boring committee that set pastoral salaries.

        If these churches hire a pastor and give them a job description, then it is fair and reasonable to give them a fair salary that is commensurate with the salaries of similar professions in the area where they live.

        • says

          I am glad that you and those churches put some thought into it. Most churches just kind of shrug their shoulders and pull a number out of the air, generally a fairly low number if the church is small…

          • Ant Writes says

            Well, at least in my old denom, the avg size of a church was 100 members. My friend in Greentree, SC has a 75 member church, he had a free 3 bedroom parsonage w/ utilities, and $25,000 a year with access to the food bank which the church ran. I thought that was a pretty sweet deal for a church that small. All he had to pay was cable :)

    • Jan Eide says

      I thought the idea that living in a home belonging to the church and getting just over $2000 per month for expenses – with access to the food bank – was a “sweet deal” was, well interesting. Since that pastor has to pay the full 15.3% for social security with no help from the church on not only the $25K but also on the value of living in the house his cash income was just reduced to less than $18K. Since he lives in a house belonging to the church he has no equity in a home. When he retiress he has no home and no equity to use to buy one, too many retired pastors live on less than subsistence levels. And the idea that getting your family’s food from the church food bank would not be considered a perk by most people, especially the teenage children of the pastor.
      A church with 20 tithing families would be able to support a pastor with a salary that is equal to the average church member family, pay the church bills and have a great missions and benevolence program. Unfortunately the average american church goes gives around 2% of the income God gives them to steward to the church. That does make it difficult for small churches to support a pastor at a rate commiserate with his congregation’s income.
      Our church of around 100 gives a bit over $10K/month. From this they pay a total package to the pastor (including housing and medical ins) of about $55K per year. We are a bit above average for a church this size in paying the pastor. the average income of our church is $75-90K (Boeing is our major employer). We support missionaries monthly, pay part time salaries to our youth pastor and have no church mortgage.
      Considering the job description, written and unwritten, of a pastor it is not unreasonable for him to make a salary equivalent to the average in his congregation but the American church has a long way to go in their tithing/stewardship mentality to make this equity arrangment work. So we can all rejoice that most pastors are called to ministry and they do indeed do their work for the Lord and not in light of what they are paid, or not paid.

      • says

        Yes, many people do not give very much. And yes, many pastors are struggling to make ends meet. I was a pastor for several years, and experienced everything you describe. I am now in a “tentmaking” position, which works out much better. I miss full-time pastoral ministry, but at the same time, I do not have to worry about where my paycheck is coming from, especially in rough economic times like this.

        • Nenita Maranan says

          I salute your way. God gives us everything we need. He does not want us to suffer. All we have to do is to claim it. He does not give us one track direction to do it. I understand that if the members are nurtured spiritually rather than pressured financially, open up their hearts. Opening their wallets follow. High education is not counted for a good and compassionate pastor.

  3. says

    Apostle Paul tells the elders in Ephesus (acts 20) that they should work with their hands and give to supply the poor among them. We have it all backwards, now the poor are told they must come up with 10% as God’s portion to supply the pulpit.

    If there was an extra 84,000 in our budget, there would be more distributed towards necessities for the poor, that is the true gospel.

  4. Dwight Hunt on Facebook says

    Those figures are way above the average lead pastor’s salary of the guys I work with. Many of tlhem are barely making it, becoming bivocational, or leaving the ministry.

    • says

      Yes, but how do these sites get their statistics? I hope that they did some sort of survey of churches in the nation… if you know of other studies which report different numbers, I would love to include them also.

  5. Jim Daniel says

    I don’t know where they got their numbers, but I haven’t seen any statistics coming out of churches that would support an average anywhere near that high. The average church in America is from 70-100 members and in most churches, the number of people who pay the bills is around 20% of that. there is no way that you are going to get $80,000 + out of any of those congregations. To make matters worse, the average congregation is more worried about overpaying the staff than underpaying them which leads to the church being crippled spiritually by pastoral changes as the pastor moves to a better deal or leaves the ministry or works multiple jobs just to support his family. If I were you, I would find a source that was more reputable and actually bothered to do it’s research. The average salary for a solo pastor is probably closer to $25,000 to $35,000. The only ones who will come close to the $100,000 mark are those with churches that are approaching or have reached the mega church level of over about 2,000 attendees.

    • says

      Yeah, I don’t really know either. When I was a pastor, I was getting $30,000. With no benefits of any kind. You are right that it is typically the larger churches that pay more.

  6. Andrea says

    I do believe there is major fraud going on in some of these churches. I have been a Christian since I was a teenager, and to date I have not seen before, what I am now seeing in the place we go to fellowship. All together the pastor’s salary is close to 130,000; and that does not include his motor vehicle that the church pays for, the latest I believe is close to $100,00. There is no committee meetings. He, I might rightly say, hijacked the business of the church and controls everything. Pity the congregants do not yet realize this

  7. Edward says

    My old church Husband/Wife combo earns about 150,000/yr. Seems like a great deal to do gods work. The average household in SC is about 45K. They asked for extra money at the end of last year because we were behind on Spending Goal (Not Budget). Found out they had a Surplus fund to make up any differences. They also published the number of families who gave nothing to the those who gave a higher percentage. Why was that necessary?

    • says

      None of that was necessary. Especially the last part about publishing the names of people and how much they gave? This sort of thing happens quite often, but I am always shocked to hear it. You have left that church, I hope?

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