Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

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Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby William Thornton » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:19 am

Just in case anyone wanted to know.

Don't like it or don't believe it? Gotta be too high? Then argue with GuideStone whose 2012 Compensation Study is easy to understand and use.

The sum of $56,845 is for all full time senior pastors who responded to the survey in states where almost all of the SBC churches are located. It is what was reported as salary payments, housing allowance payments, and fair rental value of church owned housing but not including retirement or insurance payments.The figure does not include accountable reimbursement payments or what is generally called automobile allowance.

We are not all that poorly paid, on average.

For those senior pastors who live in church owned housing, it is appropriate to include the fair rental value as part of his compensation. Five years ago I would have said that including the fair rental value gave a distorted result, since living in a pastorium was a liability in the sense that the pastor is forced to forego building equity in his own home. Building equity in real estate? What a quaint thought.

The average teacher salary in my state, Georgia, is $52,815.

The average registered nurse salary in my state is about $61,000.

The average police officer pay is just under $50,000.

For those who think we are worth more, I don't disagree but would simply say that market forces are at work for us just like everyone else.

Answer this: Do you know of a church that needs a pastor and is offering a compensation package near the SBC average? How many viable candidates are available to that church? Probably dozens and dozens, ministers figuratively lining up to be considered. If a church has a thick stack of resumes there is not much incentive to increase the compensation package. The pastor candidate who asks for a good sum above the average will likely not find a receptive committee.

Perhaps Obama could issue an executive order that repeals the law of supply and demand.

Of course our $56,845 annual salary doesn't include intangibles such as being loved and appreciated by everyone. :o

Oh, one note from the compensation study: Over the past 16 years (and the study has been conducted every two years) compensation for ministers and church has increased at a rate higher than the rate of inflation.

Not all news is bad news.

[And I suspect that most SBC pastors who have several dependents and whose spouse earns no income will pay no income tax (but a ton of SECA tax) and will do a bit of head scratching over Romney's inelegant comments now made public) but that discussion is more appropirate for the Politics and Socialism Forum, not here.]
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Sandy » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:24 am

Is there any other demographic information included related to size of church? "Average" may not actually be representative of what the majority receive, if it is skewed upward by 8 or 10% of churches that are much larger, and pay a lot more.

I don't know about the issue of "supply and demand" having an effect on the salary. When my last church in Texas started a pastor search, and received over 300 resumes within a few weeks of word getting out that we were looking, most of the resumes came from people who already had churches. It wasn't like calling someone would add to the total number of people available, it was just a shuffling around of who was where. And when the committee told candidates that the salary figure was firm, and not negotiable, they dropped like flies. We probably trimmed our list down by half when we announced that the total package, retirement and insurance included, would be a firm $70,000. We even got chastised in a letter from a candidate who grumbled that we should pay over $100,000 which would be a "living wage" so that his wife would not have to work outside the home, "as the Bible says." Needless to say, he didn't make the final list.

Up here in the far north country, there is a shortage of SBC pastors, especially of those who will serve bi-vocationally. Most of the churches are small, and can't afford a full-time pastor. However, most of the churches are also growing, mostly by baptism.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:48 am

I see a shortage of pastors coming for the UMC. The average age of a UMC pastor is 58. You don't have to be great at math to figure a huge number of retirements in the next 10-15 years. Of course, supply and demand having nothing to do with getting a pastor in a UMC church. Salaries are never "negotiable" though your Superintendent might try to get the church to come up in the salary if she/he thinks it is warranted before you come. However there is a minimum salary for UMC pastors in Iowa but it is much lower than the $56,845 that you've listed as an average for SBC pastors.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby William Thornton » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:56 am

Sandy wrote:Is there any other demographic information included related to size of church? "Average" may not actually be representative of what the majority receive, if it is skewed upward by 8 or 10% of churches that are much larger, and pay a lot more.

I don't know about the issue of "supply and demand" having an effect on the salary. When my last church in Texas started a pastor search, and received over 300 resumes within a few weeks of word getting out that we were looking, most of the resumes came from people who already had churches. It wasn't like calling someone would add to the total number of people available, it was just a shuffling around of who was where. And when the committee told candidates that the salary figure was firm, and not negotiable, they dropped like flies. We probably trimmed our list down by half when we announced that the total package, retirement and insurance included, would be a firm $70,000. We even got chastised in a letter from a candidate who grumbled that we should pay over $100,000 which would be a "living wage" so that his wife would not have to work outside the home, "as the Bible says." Needless to say, he didn't make the final list.

Up here in the far north country, there is a shortage of SBC pastors, especially of those who will serve bi-vocationally. Most of the churches are small, and can't afford a full-time pastor. However, most of the churches are also growing, mostly by baptism.


Sandy, the compensation study allows users to calculate salary by church membership, budget, etc.

On the supply and demand business, if a church gets 300 resumes for an open position then there is an abundant supply. It doesn’t matter whether they are already employed or not. With such a strong supply, churches can be choosy and not worry too much about salary demands. If the candidate must have more than the church is offering then they still have a thick stack of resumes for others.

Interesting about the pastor who wanted a ‘living wage.’ He should learn first about the law of supply and demand and then negotiate.

It’s refreshing to hear about demand for pastors outstripping supply in your area.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby William Thornton » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:58 am

Tim Bonney wrote:I see a shortage of pastors coming for the UMC. The average age of a UMC pastor is 58. You don't have to be great at math to figure a huge number of retirements in the next 10-15 years. Of course, supply and demand having nothing to do with getting a pastor in a UMC church. Salaries are never "negotiable" though your Superintendent might try to get the church to come up in the salary if she/he thinks it is warranted before you come. However there is a minimum salary for UMC pastors in Iowa but it is much lower than the $56,845 that you've listed as an average for SBC pastors.


I thought that the UMC had an abundance of female ministers, including not a few ex-SBCers, who are ready to serve.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:59 am

William, do you think such a over-supply of resumes actually then hurts experienced pastors getting a church? It is often more experienced pastors who would tend to be paid a bit higher (you'd think) than young people straight out of seminary. But if a church can offer whatever salary they want and still get resumes does that mean that experienced pastors are priced out of the market? Or does it just mean they never get a salary increase? (or even take losses?)
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:02 am

$58K isn't all that much when your wife is stay-at-home and you got 5 kids!

That is, after all, who has been arguing with your thesis, William, over at SBCVoices and in the blogworld.

For many of those younger SBC pastors, they're pulling in way less than 56K, wife doesn't work and they got 3-4 kids, all homeschooled and very young.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:04 am

William Thornton wrote:
I thought that the UMC had an abundance of female ministers, including not a few ex-SBCers, who are ready to serve.


We have a lot of female clergy compared to a lot of groups and over all we don't have a shortage right now. But our clergy are older than the average in Baptist denominations I was a part of. Seminary for United Methodists is quite expensive and doesn't have the kind of denominational help I remember there being for SBC pastors. A lot of young people are just not entering ministry. The UMC this year was working to create some new scholarship programs to encourage people under 35 to attend seminary. A lot of our newer pastors are second career.

As to people coming in the the SBC etc., I looked up the stats and at least in recent years there is a trickle of pastors in from other denominations but not as many as you might think. Also some pastors from other denominations will take positions in the UMC but don't choose to transfer their ordination. This limits what churches the are eligible to pastor. You won't get a tall steeple UMC pastorate if you don't become a part of the family and do the work to transfer your ordination. Some people don't want to do that work.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Sandy » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:02 am

Tim Bonney wrote:William, do you think such a over-supply of resumes actually then hurts experienced pastors getting a church? It is often more experienced pastors who would tend to be paid a bit higher (you'd think) than young people straight out of seminary. But if a church can offer whatever salary they want and still get resumes does that mean that experienced pastors are priced out of the market? Or does it just mean they never get a salary increase? (or even take losses?)


It seems that there are always a lot of pastors on the move in the SBC, or willing to be on the move. We were told, by people in both the state convention office and the associational office, that we would receive "a couple hundred" resumes once word was out that our church was looking for a pastor. We got over 300, mostly from individuals who were already serving in pastorates. There were not many individuals on the list from either Southwestern or New Orleans who were looking for a pastorate of an established church. And I would say that the median age of those who sent resumes was probably 50 or perhaps 55. I would guess that the quest for a salary increase is what prompts so many pastors to continually toss their hat into the ring.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:16 am

Sandy wrote:
It seems that there are always a lot of pastors on the move in the SBC, or willing to be on the move. We were told, by people in both the state convention office and the associational office, that we would receive "a couple hundred" resumes once word was out that our church was looking for a pastor. We got over 300, mostly from individuals who were already serving in pastorates. There were not many individuals on the list from either Southwestern or New Orleans who were looking for a pastorate of an established church. And I would say that the median age of those who sent resumes was probably 50 or perhaps 55. I would guess that the quest for a salary increase is what prompts so many pastors to continually toss their hat into the ring.


Sandy, the process in the SBC is different enough from what I experienced in the ABC (and totally different than UMC of course) that I have trouble identifying being an established pastor sending our resumes. The ABC has a profile system and when you think it might be time to move you update your profile and activate it and it is shared in the various ABC regions by region staff. You can also ask a region staff person to send your profile to a church that you've become interested in and there is a national opportunities listing of churches who are looking which give information for where to send your profile but the whole thing of baraging a church with resumes is mostly foreign to me.

The ABC is smaller so the word I hear is you get something like 75 or so profiles to look through when making a pastoral search instead of hundreds. And of course now I don't look. I get sent.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Sandy » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:57 pm

In the SBC, it was once considered "not proper" to send out your resume directly to a church looking for a pastor or staff person. Generally, you found a former seminary professor or friend in the ministry somewhere to give you a recommendation. The seminaries also actively promoted their graduates by mailing out a booklet with photos and profiles every semester. Now, churches list vacancies in the state Baptist papers and on websites, and resumes come in directly. If what we got at my last church in Texas was indicative of who is available, it is a very diverse field in almost every sense of the word. I would also add that, out of 300 or so resumes, it was very easy to set aside 200 of them, based on salary requirements, educational requirements and, in some cases, not knowing how to put together a decent resume. There were a heap of resumes from individuals who got their degrees from schools I would consider "diploma mills." Ultimately, the committee decided that since the church was giving to the CP in part to support theological education, that we should at least give preference to candidates who had a graduate degree from one of the six SBC seminaries.

As I understand how the "system" works, however, there are still some SBC pulpits that can only be obtained through the traditional process of knowing someone who knows someone on the search committee. And there are those SBC churches which do not have their committee go through a pile of resumes, but simply pick up the phone, make a call to a few select individuals, and obtain a list of names of whom to contact to see if they are available and interested. That group of churches, and individuals, is shrinking, but it is still there, and still part of the pastor selection process.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby KeithE » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:31 pm

I commend pastors for taking to a career that does not pay well compared to similarly educated professionals. While $56,845 for a senior pastor is above the household median salary across the US of $50,200/year, it is far less than many/most professionals. By comparison an entry level engineer (just a BS) makes about the same $56,000/year and an average senior engineer makes $92,000/year.

Some feel that market forces brings all of these salaries into “appropriateness wrt their value to society”, but there is no basis for saying that. I for one would say a good minister is more valuable than a good engineer to society. What it has more to do with is the value to create profit in corporations (or contributions in non-profits such as churches). But even there the pay distribution among a company is set by the higher ups in their favor (as you have heard me say many times), not directly tied to their value to the company.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby William Thornton » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:05 am

KeithE wrote:I commend pastors for taking to a career that does not pay well compared to similarly educated professionals. While $56,845 for a senior pastor is above the household median salary across the US of $50,200/year, it is far less than many/most professionals. By comparison an entry level engineer (just a BS) makes about the same $56,000/year and an average senior engineer makes $92,000/year.

Some feel that market forces brings all of these salaries into “appropriateness wrt their value to society”, but there is no basis for saying that. I for one would say a good minister is more valuable than a good engineer to society. What it has more to do with is the value to create profit in corporations (or contributions in non-profits such as churches). But even there the pay distribution among a company is set by the higher ups in their favor (as you have heard me say many times), not directly tied to their value to the company.


I appreciate the thoughts here.

Like I said elsewhere, you cannot put a price on being greatly loved and appreciated. Well, you could but churches generally don't.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:07 am

Keith I also appreciate the thought. I don't know of any pastor who is in it for the money. We all knew when we entered minsitry that it wasn't a high paying profession. It has to be about answer the call of God to ministry rather than "profession."
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:55 pm

The church where I am serving as interim pastor received 146 individual resumes plus others that came unsolicited in packages from sources that did not match the specifics of the profile (minimum of M.Div. from an ATS accredited institution and 10 years of church experience). When whittled down to those that seemed to be possible fits, only about 20 of them matched. There is an abundant supply of resumes, but a lot of them are not those that fit traditional downtown urban churches.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:18 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:The church where I am serving as interim pastor received 146 individual resumes plus others that came unsolicited in packages from sources that did not match the specifics of the profile (minimum of M.Div. from an ATS accredited institution and 10 years of church experience). When whittled down to those that seemed to be possible fits, only about 20 of them matched. There is an abundant supply of resumes, but a lot of them are not those that fit traditional downtown urban churches.


Yes, even using ABC ABPS prifiles sometimes you get profiles that are immediately disqualified because they just don't fit.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Neil Heath » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:10 pm

Our state CBF coordinator, Frank Broome, made an interesting point in a recent presentation to our Wed. night crowd. He said one of the places we used to look for a pastor is a shrinking pool of persons, namely associate pastors at larger churches. He said that such staff positions are less common than they used to be as churches deal with financial realities.

He also made another interesting point, that the major difference between growing denominations and declining ones is the difference in birth rates between different social groups. The more mainline churches tend to be made up of groups that have fewer kids than churches made up more of lower social groups.

Not trying to hijack the thread, so we can pursue the second point further in another thread if desired.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:13 pm

Both interesting points Neil. I think I read that only about 10% of UMC churches now have a full-time appointed Associate Pastor. It is about the economics primarily.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Sandy » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:05 pm

The pool of potential pastors, at least for traditional churches, is shrinking in more than just one way. It is true that there are fewer associate pastors out there available for full time work. I know a lot of people who do associate pastor work in SBC churches are bi-vocational, and have a full time occupation outside the church. And the seminaries, which used to see 80% of their graduates go to traditional pastorates, no longer provide those kinds of numbers. Lots of people coming out of seminary have no interest in traditional church vocations, they are looking to do their own church planting, or their own kind of relational ministry.

I'd be curious to find out what the average senior pastor pay is in the CMA. We attend a relatively small church, maybe 80 to 100 people on any given Sunday, with about a $280,000 annual budget. A separate "fund" is maintained for the mission giving. We have a pastor and an associate pastor and they split the ministry work between them, related to their strengths. As it happens, the associate works with the youth and children's ministries, and with the deacons, who do family ministry and benevolence. However, there are at least two churches in the district where the pastor does the youth ministry, and the associate does senior adults or shares the teaching and preaching responsibilities. Most CMA churches, even smaller ones, have associate pastors.
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Re: Average SBC senior pastor pay: $56,845

Postby Jerry_B » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:27 am

Average salary is a tough nut to crack considering all the different situations the pastors and churches exist. That being said I think it is generally accepted that pastors are paid less then they are probably worth in a true free market situation. What I have seen happening quite often is that churches are not replacing or rehiring staff that retire or move to another church. Partially economics and also a move to have more lay leadership and involvement.
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