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Executive PastorsGeneral Interest

Does a Church’s Growth Rate Affect Salaries

By October 24, 2017 No Comments

Yes it does, but not exactly how you might guess. The reality is that most Protestant churches in North America are smaller, as the visuals illustrate below. Further, about 80% are plateaued or declining. In those churches where attendance inches downward year after year, salaries typically do not likewise inch downward. Instead they’re more likely to stay relatively level. If any portion of remuneration is the first to get trimmed or frozen, it’s often the benefits. Then major reductions in compensation tend to happen when the church faces a financial challenge or when a staff member is replaced, sometimes by a part-timer or a strategy of combining positions in order to save even more money.

For growing churches, salaries do change, but not quickly in most cases. Significant “growth bursts” in attendance or giving rarely translate into significant salary bursts or even a change in . However, our Leadership Network research has not only documented a long-term relationship in larger churches between growth and salaries, but we can put a number on it: For each $1.00 of annual increase in churchwide giving per attender, the typical executive-level annual salary increases by $15.49.

Our report, 12 Salary Trends Every Church Leader Should Know,” a free download for the executive summary (or fee for the complete report), brought to you by Vanderbloemen Search Group, looks at churches with attendances from 500 to over 30,000. It offers many fascinating insights on the financial dimensions of larger churches, whether or not they are growing. Do take a look!



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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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