Thursday, February 14, 2019

Hey Fletch … no names or cities on this one … Few in our church know this and it might be disturbing to many if it leaked out. I just learned that our Senior Pastor makes over $500,000 a year. Is this considered excessive compensation? I mean, I make $62,500 and think I’m doing fine …

DRF—Let me start by assuring you that the Hey Fletch column never prints names of people who ask questions or identifying information about their church. This is a safe place to ask questions. Thank you for your trust in asking such a confidential question.

There are extremely few pastors who receive the level of compensation that you have described. There was a ‘leaked memo’ from a church a few years ago where it was recommended taking a pastor to over $600,000. That raised plenty of eyebrows in the church community.

Let’s not talk about the legality, that is for another time. Let me say, though, that the church had better have some great documentation to show the comparable basis of such a wage, if it even exists. 

Let’s talk about the prudence of such a salary. Many will raise the same questions that you raise. Why is the pastor making so much? Few in our community come close to that amount. Is this what church is really about? Those questions should help keep salaries fair and reasonable.

The Puritans are reported to have said, “God, you keep our pastors humble and we will keep them poor.” I’m not a fan of that. Let’s pay our pastors a fair wage so that they can live in our community. Pastoral life is demanding and spiritually draining; so we don’t need pastors who get second jobs to support themselves.

Check out the Smart Money for Church Salaries video and book for more information.