Multiplication Center

Ten Important Salary Benchmarks You Might Not Know About

April 25, 2016

By Warren Bird

Our Large Church Salary, Staff and Budget Survey is NOT just about salary tables for various large-church sizes. (The survey is still open, by the way, so please take a look.) The survey also addresses many other related issues that large church pastors have asked about. They include:

• What’s the salary difference between the top paid person and the #2 person?

The 2014 answer was that the #2 person’s salary is 70% of what the #1 person made. For 2016 we’ll see if it’s changed, and then we’ll break it down by church size and other variables.

• What percent of a church’s total budget goes to staffing costs?

The 2014 answer was 46% (half of churches were 39%-52%). For 2016 we’ll see if it’s changed, and then we’ll break it down by church size and other variables.

• What percent of a church’s total budget goes to the senior pastor’s salary?

The 2014 answer then was 3.4%. The larger the church, the lower the percentage. For 2016 we’ll see if it’s changed, and then we’ll break it down by church size and other variables.

• For each paid staff member, how many people in worship does that represent?

The 2014 answer then was one full-time staff for each 71 in worship (half of churches had a ratio between 1:51 and 1:90). Surprisingly, the larger the church the more paid staff per attender. For 2016 we’ll see if it’s changed, and then we’ll break it down by church size and other variables.

• What’s the biggest influence on salary – church location? pastor’s age? denomination? other?

Other. The 2014 answer was that church size is by far the strongest salary predictor; more than “attendance size,” it was “total budget size.” For 2016, we’ll dig even deeper.

• Does being the founding pastor affect that person’s salary levels?

The 2014 answer was that founder-pastor salaries were only minimally higher. We were surprised, so we asked it again in 2016 with ways to probe deeper about it.


New questions for 2016 include:

• How does per-person giving affect salary levels?

Also new is that we’ll be integrating local census data – from each church – into our analysis. We already know that the bigger the church, the lower the per-person giving. We’ll try to figure out why.

• How does outsourced staffing affect on-site salary levels?

We know from 2014 that outsourcing is on the increase (payroll, graphics, facility maintenance, etc.). We’ll now explore how it affects salaries.

• How does sponsoring a school or having an endowment affect salary levels?

In fact, we asked about several potential factors like this.

• Do multisite churches pay higher, lower, or the same as single-site churches?

We also asked about specific multisite roles like campus pastors and the director of multisite locations.

Churches that participate in the survey receive several exclusive benefits, all listed on the opening pages of the survey. If you’re a church from 500 to over 50,000 in weekly attendance, please take a look. The link again is: Leadnet.org/salary. Survey closes May 31. (The executive summary we publish this summer will be sponsored by Vanderbloemen Search Group.)

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