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Average pastor wages decline in recession

September 10, 2009

Compensation Survey Shows Decline in Pastor’s Income

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Sept. 9 /Christian Newswire/ — A recent national survey of pastors and church staff shows the compensation and benefits paid to the average pastor has declined this year compared to a slight bump up in salaries in 2008. This annual survey, conducted and compiled by Christianity Today International and reported on in the 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, is based on data from nearly 5,000 churches. Staff members in 13 different positions, ranging from senior pastors to church secretaries, reported on their total compensation package, including details such as salary, housing allowance/parsonage, retirement, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and continuing education allowances.

The total compensation for all lead pastors, including housing, insurance, and retirement benefits, was down about 2.2% to an average $70,806. Solo pastors lost more than $300 per month in salary and benefits last year.

The decline, in part, is accounted for by wage freezes in many congregations. About half of lead pastors reported they received no salary increase in the previous year (53% of senior pastors and 51% of solo pastors). The same limitation is noted among other full-time staff positions, and part-time staffers were no more likely to receive a raise: Only 50% of secretaries/administrators and 38% of musicians/accompanists got a bump last year.

As in previous years, regional differences are reflected in the study, as are the effects of congregation size and location. Churches in the Central-Southeast and Mountain regions reported lower compensation than the national averages, while salaries in New England and the Northeastern states were above average. Not surprisingly, smaller churches, especially those in rural areas and small cities, reported lower salaries.

The comprehensive results and analysis for this year’s survey are featured in The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff. The complete analysis includes breakdowns based on church denomination, income budget, size, and geographical setting. To order your copy visit or call 800-222-1840.

Christianity Today International is a not-for-profit Christian media ministry founded by Billy Graham in 1956, with 9 publications and an award-winning website reaching more than 2.5-million unique visitors monthly.

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