5 Practical Steps To Assess Your Church Staff’s Compensation


Determining pay in a church setting is one of the most difficult portions of church staffing and team building. Job descriptions vary widely as do the people filling positions, which can make assessing the proper pay for a new hire or a current church staff member feel nearly impossible.

Below you’ll find some wisdom we’ve uncovered from our team's experience conducting compensation consultations for churches across the nation. By utilizing the following five suggestions, you can make informed decisions when you’re determining the salary for your employees, which will ultimately help lead to a long tenured, harmonious staff.

1. Holistically review your org chart.

Before you can assess any right or wrong compensation, you need to take a look at your organization as a whole. It’s typically best to start at the very top of your org chart and work your way down. Separate data based on job description, tenure, education (if applicable), and salary amount. Does anyone’s salary in particular stand out as not fitting with the general flow of salaries (for better or for worse)? Are there any salaries not commensurate with job responsibilities? This is the perfect time to evaluate each of your departments as a whole to ensure you are utilizing your budgets in the best possible way (for example, everyone has specific job descriptions, there is little overlap in responsibilities, etc). You may discover more efficient ways of organizing so you can maximize your budget and maybe even find space for that new position you’ve been hoping to hire.

2. Holistically review the role.

When addressing what is fair and reasonable pay for a specific position, it’s important to do a complete assessment of the position in question. You need to look at the ministry responsibilities and what kind of value that ministry brings to the church as a whole. If their ministry is growing and that is directly affecting all church attendance, it should carry weight in your overall decision about pay. Look back at their history of staff reviews – what kind of employee has this person been? Are there specific and consistent areas of achievement or neglect within their ministry or performance? These are all factors to consider.

3. Compare.

After you have a good grasp on your organization as a whole and the specific position in question, you should compare your organization to others in order to get an idea of a fair value to place on the role. Points of consideration should include your annual budget and weekly attendance, as well as the location of your church in comparison to national averages (salary data is often recorded in national averages).  It is important to note that you need to make sure you have a reasonable sample size of information – don’t just ask your closest friend and assume that’s enough data. You want to make sure you have the broadest scope of information possible in order to make a fair assessment about pay for your role.

4. Assess risk of loss. 

The goal of evaluating compensation is to determine a fair and reasonable pay package for your employee. It is important to remember that what is reasonable may not always seem fair to everyone, but that you have measurable justification for paying a person what you do. Risk of loss plays a big part in this – you should consider what it would cost you to lose this employee. Would your attendance and ultimately your tithes be affected? If you lost your Pastor, how much would it cost you to bring in a new Pastor – one who has not been at the organization as long or doesn’t have the same experience? How much time will searching for a new Pastor take your employees who are already busy? New, incoming Pastors are generally going to cost more than a Pastor who has been with your organization a long time. Giving your existing Senior Pastor a raise will almost always be cheaper than having to find a new one, and it will help utilize a long tenure for your employees and keep your church running happily and without any interruption.

5. Create an action plan.

After evaluating the factors mentioned above, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Often, you’ll discover that something needs to be adjusted, and it’s hard to know how to make it all right. The most important thing to note is that it doesn’t need to happen overnight. Depending on the severity of the adjustment you need to make, develop a 3-5 year action plan to get everything on track for the future, keeping in mind what your church’s budget has room to do. The second most important element of this step is to keep your church staff up-to-date with what is happening, especially those whose salary this decision directly affects. Communication is key.

These are a few practical steps for determining fair compensation amongst your church staff. For a more thorough review, we offer the most comprehensive compensation consultation services available, and they also can protect you legally if there’s ever a question about your staff's compensation.

How do you and your team assess fair and reasonable pay? What questions do you have about it?

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