“Hey Fletch” on HR

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.

Questions for Reference Checks

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hey Fletch … Are there any limits to the questions we can ask in a reference call? I ask because I used to work for a para-church organization and was involved in hiring a few times. One of my supervisors used to say that he gets around any illegal questions by asking the references those questions … because everything is free game with a reference. I wanted to check and see if […]

Hiring Questions

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Hey Fletch … I have a question about hiring a new staff member. I am the lead pastor at my church and have never been on this side of the hiring process. I know that there are questions which are illegal to ask applicants under the equal opportunity employment act (such as I can’t ask if they are married or have a family). My understanding that churches are bound by this law […]


Friday, April 5, 2019

Hey Fletch … After 60 years of our church’s history, 28 years on the pastoral staff, our leadership has granted a 12-week sabbatical for our Senior Pastor. We have the material and suggestions on how he and we should approach the sabbatical to benefit him most. My question is, do you have any suggestions on how we as leadership should approach this time with the absence? Any best ways for all (XP, […]

Bullying and Harassment

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hey Fletch … An article on XPastor mentions a doctoral dissertation by Dr. Art Hunt, I Never Expected This Would Happen To Me. I would be very grateful if you could let me know how I can contact Dr. Hunt for a copy of his dissertation. I am a social psychologist working on bullying in churches and religious groups. With many thanks for your help. There is much more happening in the […]

Issues with Assistant for a Blind Pastor

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Hey Fletch … Our church is processing what I learned at the workshop on Smart Money for Church Salaries. We are trying to come to grips with part-time employees not being able to volunteer in their areas of ministry. One of our pastors is blind and we hired a part-time assistant that helps with the parts of the job that are not possible due to the disability. This assistant also volunteers […]


Monday, January 14, 2019

Hey Fletch … We are beginning to think about interns for the summer. Can we pay an intern a monthly salary and have them work as many hours as needed?

DRF—Interns are rarely exempt employees. If they were exempt by job function (doing management activity) and salary (making over $23,660 for federal salary levels and higher in many states), then your interns could work as many hours as they want to. However, the […]

Compensation Ideas

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hey Fletch … I need some help on compensation ideas for staff. Ideas?

DRF—That is a huge topic! Here are two ideas for you. Check out the video of the Smart Money for Church Salaries workshop. This would answer many more of your questions.

Check out the book, “Smart Money for Church Salaries.” Click on this link.

You can create a salary grid on your own by doing a goodly amount of research.[…]

PEO to handle Church HR

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hey Fletch … I recently hired a PEO to handle most of our HR services. On the first two payrolls they issued, they collected federal and state unemployment tax. Historically, we had never paid that. After some research, it seems as though our church is exempt from federal unemployment tax and has the option of paying state unemployment tax.

I realize we may “mitigate” the risk of an unemployment claim by paying the […]

Volunteer Hours for Emergency Relief

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m wondering if our non-exempt staff can put in extra hours during an emergency. Do they have to be paid for this? I found this online as it references “emergency relief capacity.”

If individuals volunteer to a private, not-for-profit organization, are they entitled to compensation?

Individuals who volunteer their services in an emergency relief capacity to private not-for-profit organizations for civic, religious or humanitarian objectives, without contemplation or receipt of […]

Is the Associate Pastor Title Still Used?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hey Fletch … At the SoCal Smart Money for Church Salaries workshop, I noticed that the title Associate Pastor did not come up. You mostly mentioned the titles of SP, XP, Pastor and Assistant Pastor. Is the title of Associate Pastor from the past akin to the Pastor title in your research?

DRF—In the 1960’s and onward, the title of associate pastor became common. Most churches had one pastor. When a second […]

Data on Health Benefits for Pastors

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Hey Fletch … I read your column from Monday, October 22, 2018 on “Poll of Church Health Insurance Benefits.” As you have looked into this, were you able to find more comprehensive data?

DRF—My friends at GuideStone were able to point me to some great data. Wade Wilkerson, a Regional Manager for their Insurance Plans, provided two substantive links.

The first link is from LifeWay and is a graphic of the “Percentages […]

Paid Time for Classes

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hey Fletch … If a church requires its ministry staff to attend a course, such as a discipleship class, after hours, 3 hours a week for 12 weeks, is the church required to pay them for their hours? Is it the same for all classes of employees? 

DRF—The answer is “yes.” The church must pay for any work hours and this required class would be work.

Ministers are exempt employees, so they would […]

Smart Money for Church Salaries in 2019?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Hey Fletch … I am new to being an XP and to the website. I’m so glad to have found it. I am very interested in the Smart Money for Church Salaries workshops. Do you do them every year? Will there be new sites in 2019?

DRF—Congratulations on your new role! XPastor is here to help. The workshops for “Smart Money for Church Salaries” have concluded. We did video record the Atlanta […]

More Questions on Paying Salaried People for Hours Worked

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hey Fletch … Thank you for your earlier response to my question about how our church is paying salaried people for the number of hours worked. My church leaders are insisting we hired someone as an exempt hourly employee. We therefore do not need to pay them a fixed amount per paycheck but rather the hours they have worked. At this point I am about to drop the issue as it’s not […]

Are Preschool Teachers Exempt Employees?

Monday, November 5

Hey Fletch … Our church has a preschool with part-time teachers. We have been treating them as exempt employees, as they are teachers. They don’t get paid for working after hours, home visits or for the Christmas play rehearsals. Are we legal?

DRF—In a word, no. You are not “legal.” Generally preschool teachers are not seen in the same category as credentialed teachers. 

The topic has been widely debated and the Department of Labor […]

Not Reporting All Hours on a Time Card

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hey Fletch … I hope your ongoing national workshop tour with Smart Money for Church Salaries is going well. I have a question for my church. We have a part-time hourly administrative assistant in the office. I hear they are often working more hours than they are actually putting on their time card. I believe in for-profit businesses this is against the rules. Is that the case for the church? By allowing […]

Overtime for an Administrative Assistant on a Retreat 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Hey Fletch … We have a full-time youth pastor and a part-time youth administrative assistant. We have a youth retreat coming up and we are trying to figure out how to pay or not pay for our PT admin to go on the retreat. What are the laws and best practices for PT workers at camps and retreats?

DRF— This is a humdinger of a question and a challenging topic. Your employee is […]

Can We Pay Exempt Staff for the Number of Hours Worked?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hey Fletch … For exempt workers, is it required that they receive a regular salary payment, independent of the number of hours they work? If they work under 40 hours, we currently pay however many hours they work. We don’t pay overtime if they work over 40 in a week since they’re exempt. I thought that an exempt worker would receive a regular, set payment. Can we pay them a varying amount […]

Pastor Doing Outside Consulting Work

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hey Fletch … Do you have any articles that deal with pastors doing freelance work? This might be coaching or consulting that is outside of their formal church work. How does this relate to creating healthy kingdom policies from an HR/staff handbook perspective? Thanks!

DRF—I have several “Hey Fletch” columns on pastors who write books and other intellectual property issues. For example, see one on Who Owns a Book that the Pastor […]

Hiring an African-American XP

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m a Senior Pastor and we are looking for a proficient African-American XP. We don’t know where to go to find good candidates. Can you help?

DRF—It is so nice to hear from you. I went to the church website and loved what I saw. It looks like God has given a tremendous ministry to you!

There are at least six ways to do a search to find a quality candidate. […]

Plan for a New Hire 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hey Fletch … As a Senior Pastor of a new and growing church, I have a staff member leaving. The role is the 10 hour a week, director of the worship services. Can you review the transition plan? I have laid out five steps: 1) Collect and review resumes/references of those interested, 2) Interview 2-3 people, 3) Make a final decision, 4) The new person begins and learns from the person leaving, […]

Questions for a First Interview

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hey Fletch … Hey I have a first interview for a position on Friday. Any tips? What kind of preparation should I do? What questions should I ask them?

DRF—Before I drafted my thoughts, I did a web search on “first impressions.” There is a ton of good material on the subject. I especially liked that the Dale Carnegie course said: “Never underestimate the value of a smile. The first time you […]

Can an Auto Allowance Be Tax-Free?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hey Fletch … I believe I’m clear on the minister’s housing allowance designation. What about a car allowance? We have a new employee who says ministers can claim a car allowance that’s much like a housing allowance. I’ve not heard of that. Is it something we can leverage for our ministerial employees? Thanks!

DRF—A car allowance is essentially a taxable bonus. No documentation is needed because it is a bonus. There is nothing […]

Health Insurance Going Up 123%

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hey Fletch … I am looking for some advice on health insurance for my team. We provide a high deductible plan for our employees and have contributed a percentage of the deductible into a HSA on behalf of each employee. We got quotes last week for this coming year’s insurance premiums. They went up 123% from this year and will cost the church $140,000 more than last year. Needless to say we […]

Who is Exempt on the Church Staff?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hey Fletch … I am confused about exempt and nonexempt employees. My understanding is that an employee paid an hourly rate is not exempt. Are there exceptions? I’m under the impression our employee “Ann” would be eligible for overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a one-week time period. But my manager is telling me that’s not true. 

My manager replied that it depends not only on hours, but also on […]

Reviewing the Senior Pastor

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hey Fletch … Can you point me to resources Boards may use for setting up a system to evaluate the Senior Pastor?

DRF—The best place to start when considering a review of any staff member is their job description. This may beg the question, as often staff have out of date job descriptions.

If the job description is out of date or incomplete, then begin with the review of that document. The job description […]

Ministerial Housing Allowance

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hey Fletch … I am a full time associate pastor and am applying for an apartment that is part of the SMART Housing program, a kind of government assisted, affordable housing program. The city requires verification of income to qualify applicants. I receive a housing allowance from my church that is not categorized as taxable income. Without counting the housing allowance as part of my income, I fall within the income requirements […]

Senior Pastor Just Resigned

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Hey Fletch … I just resigned as Senior Pastor. Unfortunately the situation here has become unworkable. The most caring choice I can make is to move on to give a chance for a new senior pastor to bring a fresh start. Can you read my resignation letter and listen to the video? You have been a big help to me over the last six months and I deeply appreciate your advice. Can […]

HR Functions in a Church Database

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hey Fletch … I have a guy who has asked about HR functions and their integration with software like Church Community Builder. Do you know of processes for reviews, strategic plans, job descriptions or other HR functions built into CCB?

DRF—Generally church databases have limited resources for HR functions. The role of the church database focuses on other areas. My experience is that “all in one packages” are like the old adage—“Jack of […]

Well Paid Pastor Has No Retirement

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hey Fletch … Our Senior Pastor is in trouble. He has been at the church for most of his working life and wants to retire. He can’t afford it. He has $300,000 in a 403b and opted out of Social Security years ago.

At his high point, he earned over $200,000 a year. In the last decade he earned over $140,000 a year. Lately, the church hasn’t been doing well and he has […]

Need Help on Developing a Salary Matrix

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hey Fletch … We are developing a salary matrix where each tier of employment has ranges from low to max. I have been working on this, but wanted to know if there were tools or companies that do this for churches. Do you know of anyone who could help? Our Compensation Committee desires an outside organization to conduct the review.

DRF—I’m just finished my third book, Smart Money for Church Salaries. We […]

HR Policies

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hey Fletch … Do you have toolbox of what are the most essential Human Resources policies to have?

DRF—That’s a big question. Unfortunately, there are many policies that a church should have. Society has become more and more complex, with rules promulgating like rabbits. 

A good list of HR policies will include discussion of:

  • Employment Status
    • Equal opportunity employment, including how the church hires people of like faith
    • New hire process
    • The Fair […]

Template for Job Descriptions

Monday, August 13, 2018

Hey Fletch … Do you have a resource or a template for writing job descriptions?

DRF—In churches there are three types of job descriptions. They can all look fairly similar, but need to contain specific data points.

For non-exempt staff, the job description must align with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These employees must document their time, take rest and meal breaks, etc. The job description doesn’t need to show the FLSA […]

Pastor Buying a House in an Expensive Location

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m really looking forward to the Smart Money for Church Salaries workshop! Perhaps you’ll cover this there, but can you share insight into how churches in affluent areas are handling housing costs, especially for new staff members who move into the area? Here in our region, the median home price is $1,000,000. This has made it especially difficult to hire folks who are new to this crazy real […]

Staff Evaluations

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hey Fletch …    I am a new XP to the church I serve and staff evaluations are coming up. My previous experiences at churches are either too formal (a graded scale, points assigned to tasks, overly specific goals) or too relaxed (“so, how did the last year go, Bob?”). Do you have a template or resource to help me frame staff evals this fall?

DRF—It has been a busy season and […]

Health Cost-Sharing Ministries

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hey Fletch … I have a question about rising medical costs for employers. There are several Christian-based health cost-sharing ministries, such as MediShare, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Samaritan Ministries. On the surface they do not qualify as a group plan to meet the requirements of the ACA for employers with 50+ employees. At least one is communicating that they do in a certain environment. What are your thoughts on this?

PS Our HR […]

Who Owns a Book that the Pastor Writes?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hey Fletch … I have a quick question that may require a long answer. If a pastor is writing books, who gets the royalties and why? I’m confident that this question has varying answers depending on terms and conditions. I welcome all answers to all possibilities, if you have enough time.

DRF—The general understanding of “work for hire” laws are if a pastor writes a book on church time, on church computers and […]

Compensation Survey

Friday, July 27, 2018

Hey Fletch … How do I receive the Compensation Survey?  Mail or email?

DRF—The XPastor Compensation Survey is online. You can enroll and get all the data online. If you submit your data, receive $15 off the price. This is not a requirement, just an offer!

While it is smaller than other national surveys, it is the least expensive! 

XPastor’s “Big Tamale” salary survey gives you access to hundreds of churches around the […]

Thanks for the Employee Handbook 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hey Fletch … I wanted to reach out and say thanks for the employee handbook that I found on XPastor. This is exactly what I needed! I am helping our pastors develop an employee handbook so we appreciate you sharing this!

DRF—Thanks for letting me know. The employee handbook on that page is one of many that people in the XPastor community have submitted. There are many more staff policies on […]

Pastor Told to Retire at Age 65

Friday, July 20, 2018

Hey Fletch … I just got out of a meeting with my XP. He told me that the church has a policy that pastors have to retire at age 65. I don’t get it. I’m effective in my role, love it and have a good five to ten years of ministry left in me. What should I do?

DRF—Ouch. I’m so sorry to hear this. I strongly disagree with such a policy. You […]

Giving a Pastor a Sign-on Bonus?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hey Fletch … We are paying a pastor a sign-on bonus that has filed their 4361 and at the same time has a W4 with the church. What is the church’s responsibility when it comes to withholding taxes on the bonus? Does the church withhold zero taxes on the bonus since he is licensed and has filed 4361? Does the church withhold taxes per the W4 that the clergy has with the church ?

DRF—I’m […]

Are Employment Applications Necessary for Churches?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hey Fletch! We are a small but growing church that typically hires from within our own membership. We are considering adding an employment application but don’t know where to begin. Can you recommend a good resource for what kind of questions to ask (and what is too personal?) As we’ve experienced growth and haven’t had as long to get to know prospective applicants, we’ve been surprised by a few situations that seem […]

My Boss Wants Me Out

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hey Fletch … My boss wants me out. She came into my office last week and essentially said “You are done here.” What should I do?

DRF—Often there is a substantial backstory that builds up to that climactic statement. Sometimes it comes out of thin air. Either way, your relationship with your boss is severely damaged, probably beyond repair.

As you think through the last few months, consider what you have done to be […]

Thinking about Applying for an XP Position

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hey Fletch … I was thinking about applying for the open XP role at our church. Then I found out the church quickly and quietly hired an insider. Is this typical?

DRF—I’m sorry that you didn’t get the change to apply for the position and possibly get an interview. If a church posts an open position, they should allow three to five weeks for people to apply. Otherwise, it makes people wonder, “Why […]

Time Cards for Pastors

Friday, June 29, 2018

Hey Fletch … Are my people working hard enough? Should we use time-cards for pastors?

DRF—This is similar to yesterday’s question about administrative assistants. People work incredibly hard when they have a compelling vision. When people speak into the tactics of implementing that vision, they work even harder.

I am not a fan of having time cards for pastors. Pastors are exempt from FLSA regulations, so time cards are not required. Some churches use […]

Worship Leader Resume and Reel

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m beginning to write the script for my worship reel. What do you think are the most important things to hit on in that video. What subjects do churches and employers need/want to hear me share about?

DRF—A resume for a worship leader should include “your reel.” That is a collection of videos that show you in action. I would suggest that you include three things:

  1. Tell the top two […]

Part-Time Pastor Ready to Burn Out

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m a church planter. We have a part-time pastor on our staff. Her husband makes a good living and we would love to pay her more. However, as a starter church, our budget is so, so tight. I can’t bring her to full-time status. She is already putting in more hours than we are paying her for and I fear that she may burn out. Thoughts?

DRF—The good news for […]

Compensation Survey Data

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hey Fletch … I noticed that some of the data in XPastor’s Compensation Survey seems dated. I’m sure if you made a plea to all the XP viewers they would be happy to update a Salary Survey Spreadsheet for you. It’s always hard for us operating in the northeast to find good comps.

DRF—I liked your feedback and it is helping to improve the page. Here is what the page now says:

Data is […]

Worship Pastor Salaries

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hey Fletch … Do you have any data on salaries for worship pastors or music directors? I’m interested in both full and part time.

DRF—There are a number of sources for salary data: Leadership Network, MinistryPay and Christianity Today have the largest databases. 

While XPastor’s Salary Survey may not be the largest, it is unique. For $49 it is cheap. It has $200 million in salaries and hundreds of churches. What makes […]

Can I Use the Online Employee Handbooks?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Hey Fletch … Is it ok if I use the employee handbooks on XPastor to create my own? I didn’t see anything that states they are copyright protected, but wanted to make sure. I really enjoy your site and it has been very helpful to me as a Church Administrator!

DRF—XPastor tries to help churches by providing many of the essentials for running a church. These are items like job descriptions, employment applications, […]

Scaling Wages As the Church Grows

Monday, March 5, 2018

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 […]

Validating Information About Staffing

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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 […]

Evaluating Senior Pastor Salaries

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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 […]

Expediting an Unpaid to Paid Staff Role

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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 […]

HR Policy and Best Practices

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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 […]

Defining Church Interns

February 10, 2018

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” […]

Am I Underpaid?

January 29, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m trying to get a handle on my compensation. Is it fair? Am I underpaid? Please give some advice on comparable salaries for my role.

DRF—There are some great online tools that you can use. Christianity Today’s Salary Survey, MinistryPay and Leadership Network (for large churches).

XPastor has a Compensation Survey. I’m right in the middle of indexing the numbers for 2018 inflation. Most folks have found our numbers […]

Salaries in the Pacific Northwest

January 22, 2018

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 […]

XP Ministry Description, Church of 750

January 20, 2018

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. […]

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