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How Much Should Pastors Be Paid?

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Pastoral and Church Leadership Compensation

The Church Lawyers is a team of attorneys called to help churches, nonprofit organizations, and Christian schools. It is our honor to serve ministries to answer tough legal questions. In this video, we discuss one question we hear all the time—how much should a church pay its senior pastor and leadership team? This is a controversial and delicate topic and may seem like a balancing act, but it’s necessary to take time for close consideration.

When deciding compensation for leadership staff, there are costly—and legally significant—risks to paying a pastor too much or too little. Many churches may not realize the added costs with losing pastoral staff due to low compensation. A high turnover not only leaves a church in a state of limbo but adds expenses for recruitment, searching, and interviewing potential pastors.

On the other end, churches who over-compensate their pastors and leadership may find themselves in dire financial straits. While the IRS establishes that a pastor’s compensation must be reasonable, this may be difficult to decide and requires a case-by-case examination of the following factors:

  • Pastor’s education
  • Size of the congregation
  • Geographic location
  • The church’s budget
  • Pastor’s experience
  • IRS guidelines
Call For a Compensation Study

The Church Lawyers are ready to assist your church’s compensation board. Give us a call at 817-484-0194, and we’ll perform a study to help your church review the important data to make appropriate decisions. Please contact us today to learn how we can help with setting compensation—or any other legal concern your ministry may have.