Pastors, did you get a raise this year?

Many churches have just completed their annual meetings and passed their budgets. What was the result for your own compensation?

I find a big variation in the range of clergy compensation and in the attitudes of churches toward paying their pastors. Over the last few years, many church budgets have been flat or declining. Many churches never give raises for merit or experience, and some churches have not even given cost of living increases, in order to balance the budget. And of course, the cost of living was essentially flat last year. (Although see this article  from Smart Church Management about projected salary increases for 2016.)

Clergy have mixed feelings in talking with their congregations about their salary. They are afraid to seem greedy if they advocate for themselves. They are anxious because people’s giving supports them, and because of the percentage of the budget that is salary (the smaller the church, the higher the percentage).

I recommend a different approach: taking a clear, non-defensive stand for what is important to you, while open-heartedly appreciating your congregation and those who make the financial decisions.

What to do now:

If you DID get a raise:

  1. Be grateful.
  2. Claim your value. Don’t be defensive.
  3. Do the best job you can in 2016.

If you DIDN’T get a raise:

  1. Let go of any resentment.
  2. Start now to get clarity for next year. Don’t wait until the October budget committee meeting.
  3. Do the best job you can in 2016.

What to do in the future:

  1. Track your own finances, so you know how much you actually need to live on now and for the future.
  2. Prayerfully prepare for the budget conversations, both as a whole, and with regard to salaries (your own and other staff members).
  3. Make a specific salary request. Don’t just wait for what the budget folks offer. It’s a way of taking responsibility for your own financial life. Make this request in the spirit that either “yes” or “no” is all right with you.
  4. Save this article to reread at budget time.

Coming next week: Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry, The Training Program. This resource will help support you in your leadership (including money matters such as salary conversations).

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