Are Pastors Overpaid?

Are pastors overpaid?  The question is self-explanatory isn’t it.  So let’s jump right into it. 

Though I have been on two church staffs, I am not a pastor.   When I attend church, I serve merely as a volunteer and Board member.  Therefore, I have no personal agenda.  I simply have observations that I feel very strongly about.

My thoughts are this – You can’t pay pastors enough!!!

I love pastors for the following reasons:

  1. Pastors are the point people for telling me what God thinks about the issues of my life. 
  2. They provide me spiritual food each week. 
  3. They pray for me when I need it and even when I don’t. 
  4. They preside over the landmark issues of my life such as baby dedications, weddings, and funerals. 
  5. They comfort me during times of crisis and uncertainty. 
  6. They daily fight spiritual battles I know nothing about.
  7. They encourage me.
  8. They shepherd my soul.
  9. They are my friend.

I will never suggest that our Lead/Senior Pastor take a pay cut.  Never.

Several times I have gone to battle with members of Finance and Stewardship Committees over the issues of staff raises and compensation packages.  Sadly, many times they have masked their own selfishness, greed, agendas, and disappointments in a veil of “protecting the church” and “good stewardship”.  Sometimes I’ve won.  Other times, I did not. 

We have all seen gross misbehavior in the area of greed by some well-known Christian leaders.  I’m not talking about those cases.   I’m talking about the average pastor in an average church.

As a church leader, I want my pastors to be “very comfortable financially” in relation to the people they serve.   The objective of a comfortable lifestyle is the following:

  1. I want my pastors living comfortably so they don’t have to worry about some of life’s basic issues.
  2. I want my pastors freed up so they can focus solely on hearing from God.
  3. I want them to prosper
  4. I want my pastors to be able to lead in generosity.
  5. I want my pastors’ children to love Christians and the church so much they would think of doing nothing else but one day going into ministry themselves.  I don’t want them to think that the church is stingy and poor.
  6. God shows favor to churches that bless their leaders.
  7. Pastors are on call 24-7.
  8. We need to hold pastors in high esteem.

Now a warning to people who think a specific pastor or pastors in general are overpaid – Never question how much a person makes until you first know how much that person gives away!!!  God blesses generous leaders.  

Church leaders, love your pastors.  Bless them.  Pray for them.  Treat their families with dignity and honor.  And give them a raise!!!

How much of a raise?” you ask.  The answer is “MORE!”

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

16 Responses to “Are Pastors Overpaid?”

  1. I agree with you. Most pastors don’t get paid enough. I have served as a volunteer youth pastor and the best payment is when the youth or other leaders encouraged you or tell you how much they mean to you.

    Even though pastors may not get paid a lot. The members can still encourage, serve, and add value to the church leadership team and pastor. I have found this is worth more than money.

  2. Fab post 🙂 Makes me want to change my comment boycott

  3. Brian, as a former senior pastor, I want to personally thank you for “taking the bull by the horns” so to speak on this issue. My personal story is not nearly as important as the issue overall, which is why I am starting a new ministry specifically targeting pastors. The website is still under construction, however. Thanks again for sharing these thoughts and God bless.

  4. Brian,
    As a former senior pastor who was always well cared for, I appreciate your defense of pastors. But I want to examine some of your rational. Specifically your 1-9 list:

    Pastors are the point people for telling me what God thinks about the issues of my life.
    They provide me spiritual food each week.
    They pray for me when I need it and even when I don’t.
    They preside over the landmark issues of my life such as baby dedications, weddings, and funerals.
    They comfort me during times of crisis and uncertainty.
    They daily fight spiritual battles I know nothing about.
    They encourage me.
    They shepherd my soul.
    They are my friend.

    All 9 of your points relate to you primarily. I’m not saying that is invalid but it is one sided. Could I add a few?

    1. They care for the larger body of my brothers and sisters in Christ who I love.
    2. They help to keep in front of me the vision to take the gospel to the world.
    3. They exhort me to live for more than my comfort, convenience and security and I need this every day.
    4. They pray and work towards mobilizing the whole body to use their gifts in the service of the King.
    5. They have the calling upon their lives in a unique way to pray and study the Scripture, so that the flock is nourished, God is honored, and the unconverted are drawn to Christ.
    6. They comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We all need that from time to time.

    Just some additional thoughts, stimulated by your significant post.

    Have a great father’s day brother.

  5. How do you feel about Youth Pastors?

    • Jonah,

      Thanks for your question. As a former youth pastor, I know where you are coming from and I want to handle the question appropriately.

      There are different rules for Lead/Senior Pastors. However, as a Board member, I still want to practice generosity with each member of the staff – including youth pastors.

      I’ve been there and I currently have a 12-year old daughter. So I want all youth pastors taken care of but the rules are different for Senior Pastors.

      Thanks and I hope you keep reading and commenting in the future.


      • You are correct that Staff Pastor positions are different than Lead Pastor positions. Having served at two churches as a full-time Youth Pastor personally if I was to serve again as a Staff Pastor I want nothing more than part-time pay. I’d much rather be bi-vocational working out in the masses than being stuck in the church bubble that plagues many in full-time ministry.

        Besides it’s my opinion that there are more important things to invest the churches money in than a whole lot of full-time staff (i.e. missions).

  6. Brian,
    You have some very good points, and I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I have the privilege of belonging to a congregation that is able to provide for two very gifted pastors who in return are able to give way over 40 hours a week to the church, which has benefited all of us.

    On the otherhand, there are lot of very small churches in America today, many of which, frankly, are too small to give a comfortable salary and benefits to a pastor and at the same time give money to missionaries. One solution to such cases may be the “Biblical Eldership” approach (see the book by Alex Strauch). I was raised in the plymouth Brethren movement, which is made up mostly of very small churches. One of the reasons our group has been able to send out a lot of missionaries, is because we rely on a plurality of unpaid elders to share the task of shepherding our churches. The idea of having a plurality of “bishops” or “elders” is very Biblical. However, there is also Biblical support for giving church leaders a comfortable salary.

  7. I feel if a pastor gets anything more than a minimal salary, something is wrong and most times it’s the message of faith + = eternal life. Some say you must first change your life, others say you must say the sinner’s prayer or ask Jesus into your life or confess in order to be saved. The Bible explains very clearly that faith alone in Christ alone is what gets a person to heaven (Ephesians 2:8,9). All the work to get us to heaven was done by God Himself and there is not one thing, big or small we can add to His perfect work.

    Freely you received, freely give..

    Hope you agree.


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