Wednesday, November 3, 2010

BGCT 2011 Budget: Who gets the $100k+ salaries?

My friend David Montoya, the little Japanese/Texas bulldog, links the BGCT's proposed 2011 budget, the detailed one, 177 pages long. Whatever their faults and sordid recent history, give credit to the BGCT for giving access to a detailed budget.

While I have nothing to do with Texas Baptists, don't contribute a penny to the work there, and am many miles away, it is fascinating to peruse any Baptist entity's detailed budget. A few comments:

Seems like a couple of years ago David linked a previous budget and I was struck by the number of people whose salary was over $100k. I don't have that one to look at and am going on memory. In this budget I find only seven people salaried in six figures. The honcho Executive Director is highest $165k. Of course, add in benefits and most all of the directors are in a package that costs BGCTers over $100k. The pay levels look quite reasonable to me.

The directors of the African American and Hispanic Work departments are among the lowest paid among the three dozen or so listed directors. They are at $69k/yr. There are two others at $53k. To be fair here, there are a dozen or so just a little above the African American and Hispanic directors. Perhaps longevity increases or something.

The director of the Texas Baptist Mission Foundation gets about a 10% raise, to $104k. Must have been a good year.

Stray comments:

This is the first time I've seen a director of "Western Heritage." Must be the cowboy church guy. He is at $73k.

"African Youth Camp" is budgeted for $3,000. Dont' know how you could get to Africa on that. "Asian Youth Camp" gets the same.

"Clergy Sex Misconduct" is budgeted at $3,504. Not anticipating much of this, I suppose.

"Cowboy School for Churches" is at $8,000. Bring your own horse?

One reason so many Baptist entities don't like to release a detailed document like this is because everyone can find something to take a shot at. Although I'm sure some surprises can be tucked away in a 177 page budget, I again give credit to the BGCT for being public on this.


Blake said...

I'll bite. Short of a guy having a really large family to provide for or people in his family having medical problems that are a regular drain on money I will dare to say that it is sinful for a group of Christians to be paying six figures for a fellow Christian to work a job that serves the Church. Those salaries might make sense according to worldly business wisdom, but the church is not supposed to be a place to get rich and live comfortably. I think the early church would be appalled at the idea that someone could become upper middle class by serving the Lord. They made themselves poorer to serve the poor and that faith witness attracted some upper class people to their community. The way we pay people should make them more Christlike not less. It should make them more like the people we're supposed to serve and not less.

John Wylie said...

I think it's crazy, executive directors, expensive buildings, d.o.m.s all over each state, not to mention all of the support staff. Missionaries both home and foreign should be on the payroll and whatever support staff needed to accomplish that and no one else.

William Thornton said...

Come on guys.

The average pastor in Ga is at about $60,000 salary. Most of the department directors in the BGCT are slightly above that, but not unreasonably so.

Churches in the SBC with $1m+ budgets average paying their senior pastor over $100k. Is this sinful? Find a small church. They will not be sinning in paying their pastor too much.

The professionals at the BGCT (CFO, HR, IT) look about market rate to me. The CEO, supervising hundreds of employees and a $35m budget, is reasonably paid at the $165k.

Dave Miller said...

An obscene salary is any that is significantly higher than mine.
A shameful salary is one that is significantly lower than mine.

I guess there is a line at which salaries become out of line.

I guess my first concern would not be take-home pay, but about kingdom output.

John Wylie said...

My problem is not with the 100k issue, it's with the fact that they are employed at all. At both the state and national levels there are too many unnecessary salaried positions.

The only employees the SBC or state conventions ought to have are missionaries and whatever support staff that is needed to get the checks to them. You don't need executive directors, d.o.m.s, and their various support staff. You need payroll clerks to pay the missionaries.

Blake said...

William, market rate is worldly wisdom. Can you see Jesus or the apostles making six figure incomes? It's not about comparing ourselves to the world, it's about modeling ourselves after the Bible. I bet if we got rid of six figure incomes in the SBC we'd have a lot more people in those positions doing it for the love of the church and belief in the mission. Try and suggest a pay cap at a state or national annual meeting and see how these people react. I wonder how many would suddenly decide to go elsewhere... if they could find a job in this economy.

Dave, in the body of Christ I don't believe there is any such thing as a shameful salary. We're following a bunch of homeless guys and there is nothing shameful in what they managed to do with what God provided for them.

Are leaders of house church networks in China reimbursed as handsomely (figuring in their context) as ours are?

William Thornton said...

Blake, what do you propose to use in replacement of a free market economy and capitalism? Religious socialism?

Churches and religious groups voluntarily agree to an exchange of a person's skills for a sum of money. No one is coerced in the process. If it doesn't please you, you need not participate. If you want to offer your skills for less, or for free, be my guest.

Blake said...

William, the Church demands leaders and the conditions under which they are willing to accept them. If we demand leaders work at less than six figure incomes, the supply we'll be given to work with will be more than sufficient to do God's will. I'm arguing that a higher quality supply of leadership would be available to the Church if our demands were more in line with scripture. How we hire can be a part of the pruning of the Body. The SBC, in particular, needs a lot of fat cut in the laity, clergy, institutions and leadership. We can start anywhere we choose be we need to start.

William Thornton said...

I don't buy your reasoning here, but any church or Baptist entity can certainly go into the market and say, "We will pay a maximum of $50k" and see what they get. You will have to find data to support your presumption that a higher quality supply of leadership will be found at lower costs.

Blake said...

If only the church hadn't already bought into the American Dream, that'd be no problem. I think we see glimmers of possibility when church plants by bivocational pastors change communities and intentional Christian communities change neighborhoods. Furthermore, I'm fairly certain most of the rest of non-Western Christianity does not have the same hang ups we do. What do you think a church leader gets paid anywhere else in the world for overseeing 28,000 people? I bet it's far less than his culture's equivalent of $400,000. I don't think it's unfair at all to call Christian leaders and the organizations they serve making more than 85% of the rest of the people in the US a sin. Do I know where I'd draw a line? No. But it really bothers me how unwilling we are to take a good hard look at it in light of scripture.

David Montoya said...


The BGCT (or TBC/TBC which better defines them) provides the executive director and the assistant executive director with a car.

There are other perks that are not listed. A former BGCT employee has told me his income was around %160K+ but his "compensation" was much less.

Anonymous said...

Since Jesus was so poor...I always wondered how he could afford his house in Capernaum?


David Montoya said...


It was time share.

Blake said...

1) Bible says nothing about what living arrangements he made in Capernaum.

2) While Republicans and the politically conservative work really hard at painting all homeless people as lazy bums it is really far from the truth. Christ and his disciples having ways to make ends meet and being homeless are not mutually exclusive realities.

3) Pointing out that Christ settled in Capernaum for a time does not excuse us from dealing with the reality that He and His followers still spent most of their time without a home.

4) Being without a home and traveling in a large group did not come close to allowing them to be well off despite their ability to work. It's not like I'm asking for vows of poverty by suggesting the Church could do a little more to keep her leaders from gluttony and materialism.