In our consulting, we’ve discovered that fascinating things happen when you mention these two words in the same sentence: pastor salary.
The collision of these words brings with it all sorts of responses.
We find pastors are often reluctant to talk about their own salary even if it is low and below the community standards for professionals.
Boards also become coy & wish you’d raised an easier topic.
Pastors’ wives want you to go there but find their husbands often unwilling to accompany them on the journey!
And then you add a third word: increase!
Oh my! Cat amongst pigeons!
Pastors worry about accepting a salary increase because deep down they know that they will have to raise the money. Thus a pay rise will only up the pressure on them to raise more money.
Also, tension at board level can be a genuine reason why a pastor never asks for a salary increase. They know that if they raise the issue it will only serve to increase already heightened tensions.
Also, pastors didn’t go into the ministry to make money. At least not in Australia! They answered a call to serve Christ in the pastoral role, knowing that financial rewards will rarely accompany this decision. So asking for a pay increase just feels like you’re getting the horse ahead of the cart.
There’s also are a number of reason why boards don’t want to talk about their pastor’s salary. They may be genuinely embarrassed they are not paying their pastor enough. On the other hand, some boards hold a ‘keep the pastor poor’ mentality & are just plain stingy. Unfortunately, I’ve also found that some boards are just plain negligent in their duty of care
So are there any solutions for the collision of these words: pastor salary?
Here are two ideas that I think help:
1. Create a policy of annual automatic salary increases based on the Wages Price Index. Pastor, fight for this policy until it becomes the normative practice in your church.
2. Once a year add this item to your Board agenda: Candid discussion on the pastor’s salary. Ensure the pastor’s spouse is present for this item.