Should You Offer Bonuses To Your Church Staff?


The idea of performance-based bonuses is nothing new in the corporate world; it’s been driving industry for many decades. From sales to operations, there are a number of ways to tie an individual’s pay back to their performance, incentivizing them to continue to work hard toward achieving organizational goals. So how does this translate to the church world?

People often shy away from thinking about the church as a business, but, as all church leaders know, there is huge financial aspect to running any ministry. Pastors are biblically responsible to be good stewards of their church's finances and are entrusted by their people to do so.


At the end of the day, one of the most important things for churches to focus on is the increased spiritual health accomplished through financial stewardship.

The bottom line for church financial stewardship isn’t dollars and cents; it’s souls. Tweet: The bottom line isn’t dollars and cents; it’s souls. via @VanderbloemenSG

Our team here at Vanderbloemen assists churches all over the country as they walk through the process of setting appropriate compensation for their teams. One thing that we see trending among growing churches is the development of incentivized compensation structures for their staff that tie stewardship and spirituality together in a way that drive each other. This looks different for different churches, but fundamentally, this is a system that must have buy-in from the top down, be clearly communicated to all the staff, and be 100% in sync with the church's vision and direction.

Incentive-based goals, like taking into consideration the financial and spiritual growth of the church, will always need to be measurable. You should be able to gauge their progress. These will most likely tie to one of the following key areas:

  • Church membership or attendance growth
  • Individual ministry attendance growth
  • New community outreach and service events
  • Implementation of educational or recreational programs for membership
  • Launching home and foreign missions or humanitarian programs
  • Launching prison ministries or other local ministries
  • Literacy programs, or foster and adoptive programs
  • Drug and alcohol counseling treatment and outreach.
  • Creation of leadership training programs or internships.

Here are a couple of examples of how churches might decide to use year-end bonuses:

A church in Colorado has a wonderful and vibrant Children’s Ministry. Thousands of believers drive great distances on a weekly basis because of the reputation they have of ministering to their children on Sunday. When the kids become plugged in, so do their parents. Just as believers are called with the Great Commission to share their faith, these people tell their friends, who in turn bring their kids, and the process goes on.

As a result, the church body begins to grow, believers grow in their faith, they begin to tithe, and the financial health and stability of the church grows also. This all ties back to having a strategic and intentional Children's Ministry, driving both the spiritual side and financial side of the church body. Therefore, having bonuses based on the growth of the Children's Ministry adds to the overall health of and spiritual tranformations in the church.

Putting clear goals down on paper is part of what makes a ministry successful. Tweet: Putting clear goals down on paper is part of what makes a ministry successful. via @VanderbloemenSG

Another example is The Church of the Highlands. This church participates in prison outreach ministry better than any church I have ever seen. On a weekly basis, they send teams out to prisons all over the state of Alabama, walking them through reconciliation and discipleship processes. They currently broadcast every Sunday to thousands of inmates that are connected with their prison ministry.

The Church of the Highlands is well regarded throughout the nation, but most specifically in its home state of Alabama. This is one reason why every week tens of thousands of people call one of The Church of the Highlands’ campuses their church home, and year after year, the church is able to operate below their budget and give the rest away to do awesome ministry around the globe. Their strategic, spiritual goals tie back and drive their financial health in a way that is unprecedented.

These are just two of the countless incredible examples of churches making stragetic goals and basing their staff compesation on them, and there are so many more examples in the Kingdom.

To be clear, while the above-mentioned initiatives and examples are great, no church can take on every ministry and goal and do them all with excellence, so you will have to be strategic on which initatives you tackle and how. This is where the element of biblical stewardship of the resources of time, manpower, and geographic limitations comes into play. What all of these initiatives have in common is that they have the potential, if done right, to grow the bottom line of the church (souls) while driving the financial health of the church at the same time. 

Based off of your own vision and values, which of the above items line up most with whom you as a church are uniquely gifted and called to reach?

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