Salary Negotiations For The Hesitant

Very few pastors I know have any formal training when it comes to negotiating a compensation package. I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way in this area of ministry, but here are a few principles that might help you speak with your board prior to the year end.

1. Be candid with your board.

Surveys show that most pastors who ask for a raise usually get it. If you’re like me, however, you’ll never ask. Be candid and forthright with your board and let them know your financial needs. While there are some boards that are out there to “keep the pastor humble”, it’s been my experience that most are made up of Godly men who want to bless their pastor and provide for his/her needs. Don’t assume they know what you need.

2. Educate your board.

Educate your board on how to set up compensation packages. Much like pastors, boards don’t have a clue what to pay their pastor or how to set up a fair salary package. We use the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA) survey each year as a guide for compensation and benefits. This survey breaks down salary packages by church size, demographic, location, budget, denomination and much more. In addition, each year I have a friend who pastors a larger church write a letter to my board recommending a compensation package. The letter is incredibly personal and helpful to the board.

3. Finalize your annual budget early.

Your annual budget should be completed in late November or early December. Roughly 40 to 50 percent of your undesignated giving (general tithes and offerings) or 30 to 35 percent of your total giving should be allocated to staff salaries and benefits. Growing churches pay their pastors well and always staff for growth. (1 Tim. 5:17-18)

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