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Church Compensation and Salary Guide

How Much Should Your Team Be Getting Paid and Why?

How much should you pay a person who works in your church? This is not an easy question to answer. There are so many different versions of the same job, and compensation expectations vary widely depending on where you live or what your church affiliation is. 


We’ve done some of the work sorting these numbers out so that you don’t have to. Here is our church staff salary guide for a whole host of positions. Let’s dive in!


Listen to the Bible First


Before we get into the numbers, it’s important to keep a biblical perspective on compensation for workers, even church staff people. 


Remember that God warns against taking advantage of laborers (Leviticus 19:13). The Apostle Paul is clear that this basic respect and dignity for workers extends to Kingdom workers, too (I Timothy 5:18). 


It’s important to be smart and save money when you can. But it’s way more important to show love, compassion, and care to others — and that includes the people you’re paying to work at your church. 


Church Compensation Guide


Alright, on to individual positions. In each of these categories, we’ll note key questions to ask about the nature of the position and lay out what their reported range is for compensation. You might notice that “senior pastor” is missing. That’s because we’ve got an entirely separate article about it. 


(If at any point you’re looking for more information on any of these positions, we’ve got you covered with a handy guide to church staff positions here.)


Alright, let’s get to it. Here are the positions: 


Executive Pastor 


Executive Pastor is a church job listing that has recently exploded in popularity. An executive pastor can use their valuable gifts of staff management and business expertise to free up the senior pastor to use their gifts for preaching, teaching, vision casting, or pastoral care.


According to multiple compensation data sites, the typical range of executive pastor salaries is $48,500 - $75,418. That’s quite a spectrum. Another survey from Vanderbloemen Search Group revealed a more specific range of executive pastor salaries based on church size:


Keep in mind that many of the best executive pastors come from well-paying jobs in the marketplace and may have advanced degrees like an MBA. This will mean that they are accustomed to higher compensation than most churches can provide. 


Youth Pastor


Of all the church staff positions, the youth pastor might be the one with the most confusion around compensation. Some youth pastors are volunteers, and other youth pastors work full-time leading a youth group that is so large that it is essentially a “church within the church.” Because they are often young and don’t have as much experience, youth pastors tend to be chronically underpaid. 


According to The 2020 Youth Pastor Compensation Survey, the average salary of a youth pastor in 2020 was $48,938. Our previously cited data also broke down youth pastor salaries by church size:


Many churches make the mistake of pricing out their youth pastors by insisting on forever treating the position as a low-paying, entry-level pastor job. This incentivizes youth pastors to move on to a “real” pastor job. 


But youth are an essential part of the church, and a church can benefit from a youth pastor with experience who has built a quality youth program for the long term. You might want to consider providing your youth pastor with a competitive compensation pathway to increase longevity.


Children’s Pastor


If your church has families with young children, it should ensure that those children are getting discipleship and spiritual care. To state the obvious: children are the future of the church. 


Perhaps more than any other position, children’s pastors have the potential to mobilize volunteers in your church. However, this requires a colossal effort, and they should be compensated accordingly. 


A quick glance at multiple income aggregate sites reveals that the average base salary for a children’s pastor in the United States is around $46,000/year. Vanderbloemen Search Group also has the following salary guidelines by church size:


Worship Pastor


The core job of a worship pastor is leading worship for weekly services. Before making a hire, it’s worth asking if you are specifically looking to hire a worship pastor or a worship leader. You can bet the answer will affect compensation. 


Some churches want a worship pastor to bring theological depth to the crafting of worship or because they want their worship leader to also provide pastoral care to volunteers in worship ministry. Any of these options may be strengthened if the candidate has a master’s degree and/or is ordained, but this will increase the compensation necessary.


Aggregated data on worship pastor compensation is a little wobbly, because the labor load of some worship leaders amounts to a part-time job — and, truth be told, in other churches it is a full-time job. In addition, worship pastor positions are often bundled with other roles, such as discipleship or youth pastor, making it hard to get accurate data solely on worship pastor compensation. 


If you are looking to hire a full-time worship pastor, Vanderbloemen Search Group offers the following research data on compensation by church size:


Office Administrator


In a church, the job of an office administrator is really a hundred mini-jobs rolled into one. Depending on the size of the church, an office admin may work directly with the senior pastor, or this role may be spun off into an executive assistant position. 


On the other end, an office administrator may have daily contact with visitors and church members, or this may be spun off into a receptionist role. The point I’m making is that a church office administrator's job is infinitely customizable, and each piece of the job could easily be its own position. 


Getting accurate data on fair compensation for church office administrators is difficult because the position looks very different and goes by different names depending on the context. Some put the average salary of a church office administrator between $22,067 and $36,013. Others put the average at $45,505. Still others lower that number to $34,622 a year. With this one, there’s clearly room to adjust depending on the circumstances.


Communications Director


Churches must get the word out about what they’re up to! A communications director for a church helps to market the ministry to the local community. They also serve the essential function of keeping the local congregation informed about the church. 


Whether it’s announcing the launch of a new sermon series, starting a new ministry, or heavier topics like maintaining transparency in conflict or staff changes, the communications director is one of the most important jobs in a growing church. 


According to these salary aggregation sites, the average church communications director's salary is around $33,590. If you’re looking for a range, more than half of all church communications director jobs fall between $26,500 - $59,499.


Missions Pastor


If a church wants to take its calling to be a light in the world seriously, a missions pastor can help ignite that light. A missions pastor can lead the congregation’s charge in evangelism. They can also hear the needs of the community and mobilize the congregation to respond with compassion and care. 


According to the sources for this one salary aggregation sites, the salary range for the majority of missions pastors is between $24,500 - $61,999, with the average being somewhere around $57,000.


Associate Pastor


If you’re wondering what an associate pastor does, you’re not alone. There are many, many different kinds of associate pastors, and they do quite a few different things depending on each situation. 


If you’re considering hiring an associate pastor, try being more specific with the position, such as “Associate Pastor of Children” or “Associate Pastor for Missions.” If your associate pastor position fits any of the previously mentioned positions, consult that section for salary guidance instead of this one. 


If none of the other titles fit, then the position for which you are hiring is really a second pastor position. You want someone who will fulfill the core duties of a pastor alongside the senior pastor. These include preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and officiating baptisms, weddings, and funerals. 


Because associate pastor positions are so varied, it can be hard to find accurate compensation data for your particular position. However, these salary aggregation sites suggest that the lower end of an average associate pastor's salary is around $42,000, while the higher end of the average is around $75,000. 


Avoid Discrimination by Presetting Compensation


Before we wrap up, a quick but important note about discrimination throughout the hiring process. 


You don’t want to think of yourself as a prejudiced person, but the reality is that sometimes our biases influence our decisions, even if we don’t want them to. And sometimes, we don’t even see our own biases. 


One of the easiest ways to avoid discriminating against potential church employees when determining compensation is to set the potential range of compensation before you begin the interview process. 


Serve God, Not the Market


At the end of the day, you want to pay your employees a just and equitable wage, not just what the market dictates. Even after you’ve crunched all the numbers, check your heart, and make sure you are doing the most loving thing for this child of God you are hiring. Don’t just try to score the best deal you can. 


Trust God at every step. He will provide exactly the person you need and the resources to accomplish what He wants to do in and through your church.


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