Should churches show pastor and staff salaries in their budgets?
This question comes to the Church Answers’ team and me a few times a month. It often evokes some pretty strong emotions. Can a church member (or, in some cases, guests) look at a church budget and know exactly what everyone on church staff earns?
The tension is between transparency and misunderstanding. On the one hand, transparency is usually a good default posture. Especially in congregational polity, church members have final authority over major decisions. It just makes sense they should have visibility to pastor and staff salaries.
On the other hand, putting detailed staff salaries before all the church members can be a problem for the following reasons:
- Many church members get confused over the term “packages.” For example, pastors with a “package” of $60,000 may only be making $45,000. The difference is the benefits, such as retirement and health insurance. The package is the total cost to the church. The salary (which sometimes includes housing) is what the pastor actually gets. Many church members view the package as the equivalent of a salary, but it definitely is not. In fact, most church members likely do not know their secular-equivalent package in their vocations. In other words, they do not know the costs of their benefits to their employer.
- Visibility of a specific salaries and benefits of pastors and church staff can create tensions among the staff. Can you imagine what it would be like if Church members may view the specifics of staff salaries and compare them to their own compensation. That too can be a source of tension.
- For these reasons, I lean toward not including specific compensation in a budget that is made available to church members on a regular basis. Depending on church polity, a possible approach to the transparency/misunderstanding tension would be:
- Include total salaries in a single line on the budget.
- Include total benefits in separate line items on the budget. These benefits could be segregated by their respective purpose: health insurance, retirement, etc.
- Show expense reimbursements, such as automobile expenses, as separate items. They should not be included as either compensation or benefits.
- Have a system in place where church members can view individual salaries by appointment, such as meeting with a member of the personnel committee, elders, or specific group responsible for personnel issues.
- To be clear, every church is different, and the polity of a church may be the determinative factor in how these matters are handled. Because we get similar questions quite often, we thought this approach might be helpful for some churches.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 30. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer
Don’t kill that baby!
Abortion is hotting up to be a major political issue in America and in many other Western nations. Recently, the New York State Senate voted to help...
GoFundMe, Go Away.
Wow! The Israel Falou issue just won’t go away, despite GoFundMe trying to make it go away. Their decision to axe Falou’s funding campaign for...
Why Christians Should Not Smoke Pot
I want to share my own convictions as to why followers of Jesus should not smoke pot. I encourage you to consider them prayerfully before the...
Christian rugby player’s GoFundMe page pulled down
Australian rugby star Israel Folau, who was aiming to raise $3 million to cover his legal fees, has had his page suspended. GoFundMe, the crowd...
It took 1000 coffees, but you've ﬁnished your book...
So where to now?
That's where we come in.
We have a team of publishing professionals ready to help you bring your book from your laptop to the world.
We offer cover design, typeset, eBook conversion, and competitive print prices. Oh and you'll also be on Amazon and thousands of websites worldwide.
Let us help you take the next step.LEARN MORE