Pastors’ compensation keeps pace with inflation
Rob Phillips, LifeWay
July 16, 2010

Pastors’ compensation keeps pace with inflation

Pastors’ compensation keeps pace with inflation
Rob Phillips, LifeWay
July 16, 2010


Compensation for full-time Southern Baptist pastors is rising slightly faster

than inflation, but the mounting cost of benefits is forcing churches to

provide fewer pastors with medical insurance.

These and other

findings are part of the SBC Church Compensation Study, a survey of 11,674

staff positions in Southern Baptist churches. LifeWay Research conducted the survey in cooperation with

GuideStone Financial Resources and Baptist state conventions through June 2010.

All the data acquired by the study has been compiled into a web-based tool that

will help churches as they begin planning staff compensation packages for their

2011 budgets._ь_ь


Adjusting for church

size (see Methodology below), the average full-time Southern Baptist senior pastor’s

compensation (salary and housing) rose 0.78 percent between 2008 and 2010. That

rate of change was only slightly higher than the compounded 0.67 percent

inflation rate for the same two-year period, according to figures supplied by

the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index.

With no adjustments for

church size, compensation for other full-time staff ministers increased 3.08

percent between 2008 and 2010, while compensation for full-time office personnel

increased 7.86 percent.

“Not all churches

have paid non-pastoral staff, especially small churches,” explained Scott

McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. “Churches with these

positions gave larger salary increases than the average church gave their

senior pastor over the last two years.”

While salary and

housing compensation rose by only 0.78 percent between 2008 and 2010, the value

of the entire pay package for the average full-time senior pastor rose by 6.69

percent — far outpacing inflation. That’s because churches are trying to keep

pace with the rising cost of benefits.

“Difficult economic

conditions have been compounded by higher costs for the same benefits the

church provided in prior years,” said McConnell. “Churches have kept salary

increases to a minimum, but their care for pastors is seen in increased

spending on other benefits that include retirement and insurance.”


Still, the survey

revealed that fewer full-time senior pastors receive medical insurance from

their churches today than in 2008. Sixty-one percent of churches partially or

fully pay medical insurance for their full-time senior pastors, compared to 65

percent in 2008. These reduced benefits occurred at the same time churches were

being impacted by the economic downturn and as the U.S. Department of Labor

indicates the cost of medical care rose 3.2 percent and 3.4 percent in 2009 and

2010 respectively. _ь

Ten percent of churches

provide at least partial medical-insurance funding for the pastor alone, while

17 percent fund coverage for the pastor and his wife, and 33 percent supply

coverage for the pastor and his family.

For senior pastors,

churches fully or partially pay for the following benefits:

  • Dental insurance — 26


  • Vision insurance — 11


  • Life and/or accident

    insurance — 34 percent

  • Disability insurance —

    28 percent

“Consumer prices

actually fell in 2009, allowing ministers’ dollars to go a little further, but

inflation has resumed in 2010, meaning churches must consider cost-of-living

raises to avoid decreasing the real value of the salaries they provide their

staff members,” McConnell said. _ÑŒ

Robert Henry, director

of relationship services of GuideStone Financial Resources, commended those

congregations that are trying to make sure their staff members’ compensation

and benefits keep pace with inflation. “Although the economy has certainly

tested the mettle of churches, many Southern Baptists have dug deeply into

their pockets and supported their pastors and staff members throughout these

challenging times. It’s a tribute to the faithfulness of God’s people.”_ÑŒ


Southern Baptist state conventions invited each church’s staff to respond to

the survey, and 11,674 completed surveys were analyzed. For the purpose of this

article, senior pastor responses were weighted to account for lower response

rate among smaller churches and to match the distribution of the size of SBC

churches. When using the online tool, national totals may be somewhat higher than

these weighted totals. Viewing the results by church size categories within the

online tool minimizes this impact. When running customized reports online,

error can be minimized by selecting criteria that allow for larger numbers of

participants. Part-time and interim designations in the survey did not take

into account the number of hours worked or other factors that may affect the

comparability of these averages.)