From around the globe, people tune in on Fletch’s warm and sound advice. He’s a friend and “church doctor,” bringing an objective perspective, broad knowledge and vast experience. Your question will get a personal reply from Fletch.
Hey Fletch … I’m in a small church with a few part-time paid staff. We are hoping to grow them into full-time positions over the next 2 years, plus expand the staff. What is the best way to structure a pay scale that a church can grow into on the front end to avoid mis-compensated staff on the back end? How should be pay executive leadership, department heads, department staff, part-time and hourly workers?
DRF—I would recommend a simple compensation guide for your church. The first issue is not part-time vs. full-time. The issue needs to be, “what is a fair wage in our community.” You may be in an expensive urbanized area where housing costs are enormous. You may live in a state with no state income tax. Find out what a high school teacher makes in your community. Try on that salary for size.
You may need to scale a teacher’s upwards for what you want to pay senior leaders. Perhaps keep it at the same level for department leaders and scale it downward for Assistant Pastors. There are lots of variations and variety that you will need to consider.
The great thing about a good compensation guide is that it is scalable. You can modify it in a couple of years, adjust it for inflation or add new positions. You can find lots more information in XPastor’s $49 Compensation Survey. It will show you some sample salary grids—low to high salaries for a position. Also, see results from churches around the nation, all indexed for inflation.
Hey Doc … I’m in XPastor’s class on Staffing. The class is going well! Most is fairly straightforward and there are nuggets of insight that I am able to pull from each lesson. This is validating the information that I have needed to pass to the Board over the past two years. It’s nice to see alignment with what I’ve been stating to them.
DRF—That’s part of a great education. It affirms “common knowledge” and forms it into a reasoned knowledge base. We all have ideas about how things should look. When we learn how others are doing ministry, it confirms our hunches and gives solid data to inform decisions. Keep on being a life-long learner!
Hey Fletch … I’m using the XPastor Compensation Survey. We are beginning the process of hiring a Senior Pastor and the Board is wanting to evaluate all salaries. We have some work to do to come up with ranges relevant to our church and area, our location is so very expensive to move into.
DRF—The realtors say it best, “location, location, location.” You are in an expensive area for housing. So, your salaries will have to be somewhat higher. You might also consider church sponsored housing loans. You can loan money to a staff member at a fair interest rate so that they can purchase a home. Talk to a good CPA firm about the best practices of how to do this. Our $49 Compensation Survey will give you relevant data on other churches in your region and of your size.
Hey David … I will become an Assistant Pastor within three months. Initially, this will be an unpaid position. It will become paid once the church can afford me. How do I expedite that process? Help is appreciated.
DRF—The first thing that comes to mind is to launch a culture of generosity. Help the church by telling stories of ministry. I recently was at a church with enormous reach in their city. All they shared in e-news was “come be involved.” They need to tell stories of how God impacted those going and those being served. This connects back to your church’s vision of serving the community.
In an Executive Education class at the Harvard Business School, I learned that stories demonstrate the reality of an organization’s vision statement. Show how vision is being lived out and invite the congregation to serve, give and pray. Who wouldn’t want to participate in their time and finances when they know of God’s impact?
Hey Doc … Our church isn’t of a size to yet need an HR person on staff. Yet, I need help on HR policy and best practices. Our state has lots of laws and I don’t want to run afoul of them.
DRF—Contact your church insurance company. Many have ample resources to help you stay clear of personnel problems. I’m amazed at how much information a good agent can give you at no cost. At some point, do an HR audit. Hire a professional to audit your policy and practices. This may cost anywhere from $1,00-3,000 but it would be money well spend. The audit will produce a task list to bring your church up to state and federal requirements. Then the “fun” of implementation begins! If you need help on an HR audit, contact me.
Hey David … Do you have anything on internships. What to expect out of an intern and expectations of me as the Student Pastor?
DRF—We don’t have much in the way of job descriptions. I don’t know why, as over the years we have had so many paid and non-paid interns. The best practice is, if you use the term “intern” then make it a learning internship. If the situation is really “unpaid labor” or “cheep and abused labor” then expect trouble sometime in the future. Have a clearly defined role description. Pay a fair wage and don’t expect free overtime (as in, that’s illegal). Teach, instruct and mentor the intern. Give them lots of hand-on experiences. Send me a role description when you have one and I’ll post it for the XPastor tribe.
Hey Prof … This is a hard question. Can you give me some guidance on what kind of salary I might expect as a Senior Pastor of a church in the Pacific Northwest? It has about 1,000 in worship.
DRF—XPastor’s Compensation Survey has churches in the west near that attendance. The salary range goes from $64,000 to $132,000. That’s a wide gap but when you look at all the salaries for each church, it makes sense. I like a salary survey that shows me all the major salaries in a church, that way I get the data and the big picture.
Hey Doc … I’m reviewing my ministry description as an XP. I’m in a church of 750. Can you give any input on it. 25% is Finance & HR, 25% is Working with Ministry Staff, 25% is Facilities and 25% is Leadership & Direct Ministry.
DRF—I always like percentages of time in a role description. It demonstrates an agreed upon priority of ministry. For a church your size, the percentages look realistic and doable. The full description that you emailed to me has lots of bullet points under each section—too many for my taste as it becomes a task list. I like to see a ministry description fit on one page. Great revision of it!