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Staff Compensation - Do Churches Pay A Fair Wage?

The word “compensation” is an administrative term that describes the cost to a church for the employment of an individual. Compensation is the total expenses that churches will have to bear for an employee. Compensation is usually computed on an annual basis and becomes part of the annual church budget.

Compensation is all inclusive. The Personnel Committee and Finance Committee together should arrive at Personnel salary, fringe benefits like medical insurance and annuity, business expense for travel, education/conference expense, and computers. Personnel Compensation is one of the largest portions of a church budget.

Do Churches Pay A Fair Wage?
This writer often gets two questions related to compensation: 1) How much of our church budget should be going to Personnel Compensation?; and, 2) When does a church need to know to add additional personnel/staff? If churches restrict compensation values, they can and often restrict Kingdom growth and development. Most everything rises or falls due to leadership – the lack of it or the quality of that leadership.

Luke 10:2a, 7 - Jesus appointed 70 to be sent out in pairs to every town and place. He said:
“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few, . . . pray for more workers.” Verse 7: “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they offer, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Don’t be moving from house to house”. (HCSB)
This biblical lesson speaks of compensation; not in numerical or financial form, but never-the-less, compensation provided by the Holy Spirit. These verses direct us [the church] that there are those called out for ministry and they were cared for with a place to stay and food to eat BECAUSE the Kingdom of God needed to grow and the harvest was great. Lesson one, to the church: know your possibilities in ministry and apply as many resources as it takes to accomplish Kingdom Growth! Lesson two, to the church staff: don’t go from house to house – be content to receive what the house offers – the compensation, and give yourself and the Holy Spirit time to work.

So, the church of the 21st Century needs to know – the Kingdom of God still needs to grow – workers are few and need to be fairly compensated for their ministerial labors. The church staff needs to know that what is offered is fair and to be content and not move around.

The closest qualifier this writer has been able to see is to keep total Personnel Compensation between 55% - 60% of the total church budget. Churches may have a single full time pastor for the first two hundred total church members and add full time ministers for every one hundred members there after. Support staff is added as full time ministerial staff is added. Some churches may elect for two part-time ministerial positions rather than full time. This is not an official dictated rule of thumb, but an observation of an average view point.

Do Churches Pay A Fair Wage?
The question should possibly be – Do Churches Pay a Fair Wage for Kingdom Responsibility? There must be a consideration for fair compensation based on “Churches” Kingdom perspective NOT on the percentage of the bottom line of a church budget that goes to Personnel.

“…the worker is worthy of his wages”, is the work [church work] worthy of the worker?

Robert Grant

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