What Should a Pastor’s Salary Be?

This past week WFAA Channel 8 ran a story that painted Ed Young, Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church, in a very negative light. The gist of the report was that Ed’s salary ($1 mil) and various perks (private jet, $200k+ parsonage allowance) are intentionally kept hidden from his congregation and he’s profiting from his non-profit church behind their backs.

While I think the story had some holes in it and didn’t paint a complete picture (no interviews from people defending Ed), it did raise a few questions that I think are worth asking of every church and pastor. In particular, how much money should a pastor be paid for his work?

I know there are quite a few opinions on how to determine the answer, but here are just a few examples:

  • Pastors should not be paid for their work. While this opinion is rare in the United States today, it can be found. Some people think that all pastors should be bi-vocational (work one job to earn a living while serving the church).
  • Pastors’ salaries should be less than the average salary of their congregations. The idea here is that pastors are servants. If someone is making less money than another then by default they will feel like more of a servant.
  • Pastors’ salaries should be comprable to the average salary of their congregations. There’s an expectation for pastors to live in the area in which they serve and be able to relate to their congregants every day lives, so they’d have to make about the same amount of money to do that.
  • Pastors should make more money than is average in their area. Ministry is a stressful profession. In addition, many pastors are highly trained, well educated people. When you compare the work of many pastors to jobs in other lines of work you’ll see that salaries are pretty high in those other jobs.

The actual dollar amount will of course be different from one town to the next, but these are some ideas that I’ve seen used to determine a pastors salary.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of flickr user borman818.

6 thoughts on “What Should a Pastor’s Salary Be?

  1. Kevin,
    You might want to check the main source behind the story, Ole Anthony, before calling the reporting into question. His investigations are very reputable, and he's known to only hand the evidence to the news organizations when it's fairly irrefutable. That was the case here, otherwise WFAA would not have run it. Here's his site:


  2. Not true, Jon. Ole's investigations have not always been on the up and up. Check out the Dallas Observer's article, "The Cult of Ole," or my book, I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult.

  3. This is why I hate church politics….who cares. Really. Is this going to make me go to heaven? Is it going to condemn me to hell? Can I use it to bring others to Christ? All the answer are no.

    • wel hoe you deal with money is a reflection of faith. we are called to be wise and to be good stewards of the money we have both is individuals and as a congregation. The church we meet in is a reflection of how everyone runs their own households.

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