Search Quick Links

What is a Fair Wage and How Does a Church Compensate Personnel?

One of the first steps a church should take to fairly compensate personnel is to prioritize the relative worth of each job description. Of course, the roll of “over seer” or Pastor, as found in I Timothy 3:1-7, is a dynamic job description for the lead position we recognize in our church. Other positions like Associate Pastor, Educator, Age Group Specialist, Musician, Recreation, and Support Staff also have worth placed upon the position and that worth has a significant impact on the mission, purpose and priority set by the congregation.

Job description worth should be the worth of the POSITION, not the PERSONALITY in that position. Compensation to all personnel should be in direct correlation to the priority of the POSITION and parallel to the priority of mission and purpose.
Each church should establish a priority of POSITIONS for their church staff. Usually, the Pastor position has worth of about 20% more than the next prioritized position. Each following ministerial position has a 5% difference in worth. This concept requires churches to have a Salary Plan where compensation for POSITION (not personalities) are placed in order of worth to mission and it intentionally values a BASE pay for each position.

The illustration below shows the concept of Staff Pay Grade and Ranking of Worth.


Notice: the BASE PAY follows an ever-increasing worth based on cost of living allowance over time. Churches who fail to actualize this concept, fail to stay in the “market place” and when the positions are vacated, they find they must really adjust the base to fill the position.
Notice: the Base for Pastor is set 20% over the next position of worth and subsequently thereafter.
Notice: each box has 5% segments within – these give allowance for Merit or Tenure Advances for positions OVER BASE. Long term employees may be compensated at a percentage over BASE. However, it is possible a long term employee could reach the max pay above their max worth that is proposed in the BASE worth.
Notice: the importance to having a BASE for each position is that it gives a steady increasing reference point when a position is vacated.

A Salary Plan with Base Worth is an important aspect of Church Personnel Administration – consider worth of Ministry Position to Church Mission and Priority. You will see a difference in church effectiveness!

Compensation studies are available to help churches determine fair and efficient Salary Plans for their personnel. Studies are available for just about every church staff position. The study is classified by categories based on worship attendance, church income, church setting and size, gender preferred for a position, education level, years of employed experience, and whether or not housing or parsonage is included.
Robert Grant

This Web site is made possible by the churches of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and their giving through the Cooperative Program to impact the world.