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General Interest

Do Teaching Pastors Really Make Only 51% of a Senior Pastor’s Pay?

By December 5, 2016 No Comments

By Warren Bird

I’m intrigued by questions coming from readers of our large-church salary report.  (The executive summary is free, and the complete report is $499, both are described at leadnet.org/salary.)

We’ve been doing these reports every other year for more than a decade, and one longtime user compared the “teaching pastor” information in this year’s report against reports from previous years.

In our 2016 complete report we compare a bunch of roles against the senior pastor in terms of pay. Our graphic says that a teaching pastor makes only 51% of a senior pastor’s salary, on average. The person who wrote me had also studied the trend in teaching pastor salaries, noting that they seem to decline over the years.


Hmm. I studied the data further, and here are some thoughts using the U.S. large-church data:

– Does the 51% ratio trend upward or downward with church size (i.e., from attendance of 1,000 to over 10,000)? No.

– Does the 51% vary a lot? Yes. The range is from 44% to 65%.

– Are many people primarily a teaching pastor? Apparently not. We received only 161 teaching pastor salaries, and by contrast 1,073 senior pastor salaries. My suspicion is that many other teaching pastors are actually double hatting: they are an executive pastor AND a teaching pastor, they oversee multisite campus development AND serve as teaching pastor, etc.

– How does a teaching pastor salary compare to a campus pastor salary? On average it’s slightly higher.

-How have teaching pastor salaries changed over the years? Comparing our surveys 2016, 2014, 2012 and 2010, the teaching pastor salary has slightly declined from 2010 through 2016. We don’t know why, but we can guess. Here’s the hunch of the person who wrote me: “If a teaching pastor is only teaching for X number of weeks vs. being a full-time staff overseeing other leaders, that it would make sense for the salary to be less.”

What do you think? Does this surprise you? Please add your comments and observations below. Thanks.

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Warren Bird

Author Warren Bird

Warren Bird, Ph.D. has been named a Leadership Network Senior Fellow in light of his exemplary service 2006-2018 as Director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at Leadership Network. He serves as full-time VP of Research for ECFA.org (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). An ordained minister with background as both a pastor and seminary professor, Warren is an award-winning author or co-author of 31 books for ministry leaders including Hero Maker with Dave Ferguson, How to Break Church Growth Barriers with Carl George, and Next: Pastoral Succession that Works with William Vanderbloemen. Other recent titles are Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work with Jim Tomberlin, and Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include "Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard," and "The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches." See also research reports at leadnet.org/megachurchleadnet.org/salary and leadnet.org/portable. He is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading researchers of megachurches, multisite churches, large church compensation and high-visibility pastoral succession. He also oversees the world's only active, sortable list of global megachurches. Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird.  Click here to subscribe to Leadership Network Advance to get updates from Leadership Network.

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