Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 Average SBC Sr. Pastor Pay: $60,774

 Pastor pay is up! Happy days are here again!

Look at it this way. On the first of every month, you go to your church office and are handed a check for $5,064.50. On that day you also can feel good that the church is paying your health insurance along with some contribution to your retirement.

It all adds up to $72,840 which does not include cash payments that most ministers receive as accountable reimbursements (mostly for use of their car, calculated by mileage) or for incidental reimbursements for convention, books, etc. Ministers who live in church owned housing receive some of the $60,774 in the form of housing rather than cash.

LifeWay and GuideStone collaborate on the compensation survey. The  latest is available here.

Baptist Press trumpets that full time senior pastor pay is outpacing inflation and that it has risen over 6% since 2010.

1. The survey is not random and likely over reports larger churches and higher paid ministers, which is not a bad thing. You can take the overall average, probably higher than your present pay, and say that you are below average.

2. You can manipulate the data. In my state the senior pastor of an average sized church (bewteen 75 and 199 in attendance) would be making $52k in salary and a package of $60k.

3. Significant increases in compensation will not come until you have a church of 300 or greater in attendance, a level that only a fraction of ministers will ever reach.

4. In my state until you have a church with a budget $200,000 or over, the senior pastor is going to have a total package of under $60k.

5. When the senior pastor hits his mid thirties, or let's say forty, he is very close to topping out in his compensation. Chew on that one.

6. A pastor making the SBC average whose wife is a teacher, nurse, or other professional will likely easily have a six figure family income. 

How does this compare to what you are seeing on the ground?


Matt said...

Technically, my pay is below average (in the low 40,000's counting housing allowance). My wife is a teacher and her pay is in the high 30,000's.

That may not sound like much, but the cost of living is extremely low where we live. We make much more than the median household in our town.

Our church averages around 100 on Sunday mornings, and this year's budget is $144,000.

All things considered, I can't complain at all. Average or not, we are very well taken care of, and extremely grateful.

Hopefully, I'll be singing the same tune when I reach my forties!

Anonymous said...

Hey big man! Lemme hold a dollar.

William said...

My anonymous, average compensated friend: The difference between you and you teacher/wife is that she will have automatic raises for longevity but you will likely have to change churches, larger of course, as you age in order to get much of a pay raise.

William said...

Sorry, Matt, you weren't anonymous.

RLBaty said...

Just think:

This could be the last tax year that SBC "ministers" are going to be able take advantage of IRC 107, the law that allows them to have all or part of their pay designated as income tax free housing.

We could hit 1,000 before the sun rises again in the US of A.

If the petition doesn't result in the repeal of IRC 107, there might at least be a summary judgment this year in federal district court (FFRF, et al, V. USA) declaring it UNconstitutional.

MIchael said...

I have no issue with the housing allowance going away as long as I would then be able to be an employee of the church and not counted as self employed. I get so tired of trying to keep up with all the different ways I can mess up my taxes, but that's just me.

Matt said...

William - Yes, I get that. Anon - I did not intend to come across as bragging.

Just expressing gratitude for the way we've been taken care of in the present.

RLBaty said...


As I see it, local preachers are common-law employees of the local churches that employ them.

For income tax purposes, they should report their income and expenses accordingly.

After going this way and that way and back again, an accommodation was made to the "preacher lobby" to allow them to participate in the Social Security system via the self-employment scheme; just like millions of other self-employed folk do.

So, if preachers want to complain about how they participate in the Social Security system, they have only themselves (i.e., their ancestors who set it up for them) to complain to.

I have no objection to switching again and letting local churches and preachers co-operate to use the FICA scheme instead of the SECA scheme, but if you try to lobby for that I will be interested in seeing how many preachers and churches (especially smaller churches) go to complaining about it.

William Thornton said...

RLBaty is correct here...after all he is a retired IRS appeals officer. Better be nice.;)

The housing allowance was not intended as an offset to SECA taxes and it is not a valid point to make in a discussion of the HA. Sorry.