How do I know if I am receiving adequate pay as a pastor?

This is a very fair question to ask at certain points in your ministry. Pastoral ministry is, in many ways, very similar to marketplace-type work. As a person grows in the job, it is normal and expected to have periodic reviews and, when possible, raises. For a whole host of reasons, however, these normal expectations are not always carried out in the church setting. Lack of clear expectations, poor financial stewardship, misconception of what a pastor's salary should be are a few of the reasons why this question is a challenge.

How do we judge whether we are receiving adequate pay? On the one hand, we need to be careful not to create an issue over whether we are receiving adequate pay or not. We recognize that part of our call is to sacrifice, but we still need to provide for our families. On the other hand, as Scripture says, "A laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7) and "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn" (1 Tim. 5:18). We who are called as elders/shepherds/pastors should be able to derive our living from the gospel.

One practical tip is to contact the National Association of Church Business Administration in Richardson, Texas. Their number is (800) 898-8085. They publish a biennial, 300-page national church staff compensation survey. This survey can provide some concrete information from which to formulate an opinion by you and your leaders as to whether your pay is adequate or not.

You may also want to contact the Christian Management Association in Diamond Bar, Calif., at (909) 860-8247 or check out their web site at They, too, have some information available related to salary and benefit surveys.

Finally, it is important to maintain an open line of communication with your church leadership on this issue. They should be a part of the process. Get them involved in some of the research. You may also want to meet and just talk over this subject. Unfortunately, all too many leadership teams at churches shy away from critical issues such as salary concerns. In the long run, strife, conflict and eventually the possibility of a bitter resignation can be avoided if the leadership is willing to pray together, learn together and grow together.

One resource to help with this question is our Pastor to Pastor audiocassette set entitled "Biblical Finances for Today's Pastor" (PC95B).