So, how much should a pastor make?

Mark started the conversation about Hillsong’s pastor, Brian Houston, making a whopping $300,000. I didn’t mean whopping sarcastically –  It’s eye boggling. Of course, I’m a teacher and my whopping will never even see $75,000 (or be close enough to touch it).

TC picked it up, and Mark had more to say.

The thing with pastor’s salaries is that you don’t really know what all the monies are allotted for or what exact little perks they get that is counted as salary. And the size of the church has to matter to some extent. It’s such a fine line. I don’t want pastors  living in squalor simply because they are servants of God. I’ve heard that before from people. Not exactly that way, but they do feel that the pastor should have less than the rest of us. Makes me wonder about control issues.

But, what is the upper end of a reasonable salary? What really is excessive?

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14 thoughts on “So, how much should a pastor make?

  1. In Our denomination every person in our church nows what I get for what. I get a book allowance, I live in a manse, I get a car/fuel allowance and a salary. The lines are very clear in our denomination.

    I still think that ministers should be paid the same amount regardless of church size. if the pastor doesn’t have the same work load he is paid for the days he works and s free to get another job…

    I think I opened some worms with this one Bitsy! We just need more people like you in the churches looking out for ministers!!! 🙂

  2. I’m still working through my reservations with the current business-model approach that is in use by modern churches everywhere. For as long as being a minister is a career, then they should be compensated according to their responsibilities; just like any corporate CEO, vice-president, etc. However, the tent-maker approach that Paul used presents a completely different approach to how we practice our faith as a community of believers. I may think on this some more and make a post that elaborates on this idea.

  3. Mark, the Baptist churches I’ve been in haven’t been quite so transparent. When the budget comes through, all the salaries are lumped together. We’ve been in some pretty staff heavy churches, so it’s just hard to tell. I’ve had my guesses at what each made, but never anything confirmed.

    Nathan, I’ve been working through my reservations over the business model for years, but it is so pervasive that any more I’m surprised when a church looks for a pastor and the candidates first questions aren’t about what kind of package they’ll get. Pastoring is a career and should be treated as such, but it is a career like no other.

  4. Nathan:
    Glad to see you blogging and commenting again.

    You bring up Paul, but he wasn’t a pastor. He was more like a traveling missionary who maintained some level of authority or at least authoritative voice) over the churches he founded. I don’t know that he can really be looked at for a model for pastors. Furthermore, considering the world was so different and churches were so different back then I don’t think we can get anything more than some general guiding principles, but not necessarily any specifics. To appeal to the specifics when it comes to the way churches and pastors in the NT operated (or temple and priests in the OT) just seems to distort things instead.
    So I think if the pastor is more like a career (as you stated) where you have to get special training and you go and start churches and do the labor to build it up then you should be paid accordingly. If it is somewhat modern and similar to a business model of some sort then so be it. Now if the you’re in a denomination where you are assigned to a church then you should get paid and compensated the same as the other ministers in your denomination.

  5. I’ve not ever been a part of a denomination that moves ministers from church to church, but I still think church size has to come into play. A larger congregation may mean more responsibility, more territory to cover for visiting, a larger staff to supervise.

  6. If we accept the business model for church, then I would agree that professional ministers should get compensated just like any other professional.

    I’m pretty sure I’m on the path to rejecting that model however…

  7. Since I have been part of the Episcopal form of Church goverment (Anglican), which I think is the more Apostolic, with bishops, etc. There should be guide lines, with any local Church Body from the overseeing Bishop. The ministry of Christ is not the place to make money, simply. And, oh yes St. Paul was a “pastor-teacher” himself, certainly. But also the Apostle of the Gentiles (Nations). Episkope/Episkopos..”presbuteroi” (elder), were spiritually all the same.

  8. I don’t think I’m offended at the amount – just curious why we don’t know more about pastor salaries.

    One think that hasn’t come up is cost of living. AND I have heard that about other pastors giving away tons of their salaries – or not taking one because they had other income.

  9. Peter, in my original post I purposefully didn’t comment on how much he might give because none of us know and it is between him and God.

    Bitsy, I still struggle to see why a minister should be paid more if they have staff and a larger church. It is about the office we serve not the role we have…

  10. Oh, to answer your question in very broad and general terms I think a teachers salary is a good average for a ministry salary. Both are worth more but live in the reality that we ultimately don’t do it for the money! 🙂

  11. Mark, I saw your post and then the dinger went off in the kitchen (so I could go drop some more food donchano!), so I was thinking about it, and the teacher model of course came to mind. We are paid for the job we do regardless of where we do it, in what circumstances and with what population. I think part of what’s bothering me on the preacher model you present is exactly that it’s so close to the teacher model that I’ve struggled understanding. A teacher in an urban setting without adequate supplies and with classes brimming makes the same salary as the teacher in suburbia with all the supplies they’d ever dream of and parents helping at every turn. That’s always seemed a bit off to me. BUT it is the way it is 😉

  12. I work fulltime for IBM as Sr. Systems Engineer, my responsibilities are very demanding and require that I constantly stay current on new technologies. Which makes it very challenging to attend to my pastoral responsibilities. I think that it’s easy to undermine the responsibilities that a pastor has, and they only get more demanding as the church grows. I think that all pastors should work a job until their congregation can afford to sustain them. It really makes no sense to draw a fulltime salary if you are running less than 50 people. I also think that a pastor running a church of 5000 should earn a respectable salary that will properly compensate the demands of that congregation. Maybe 300k is excessive but I do think that many factors play into it. For example in Southern Califorina homes still costs 400k +, and how is a pastor to afford a home only earning 40k or less? Rent for homes is equally expensive ranging from $1800-2600 per month. Glad I’m not pastoring in New York.

  13. Robert, Cost of living is a definite factor. I have seen teacher salaries around NYC that are twice mine and I’m sure they don’t feel any better paid than I do.

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