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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

28 Apr '12

Ministry pay scales

In my work with churches and Christian organizations I am often privy to their pay scales. And to be honest, they often bother me - specifically three observations.


1. There is far too great a differential between the senior staff and those who are in the next level down. Boards appropriately ensure that their senior staff are well paid in most cases. However, they are less careful to ensure that the rest of the pay scale is pulled up so that there is not an undue gap between the top and the next levels down.


I rarely quibble with the senior staff salaries I see. In my circles they are moderate and not extravagant. Often they do not reflect the scope of responsibility that these leaders have. But, the gap between their fair pay and the next levels down I often have a quarrel with. Which leads me to a second observation.


2. We often do not pay our lowest staff a fair wage but as little as we can legally pay. This includes building engineers, clerical, and administrative assistant level folks. My question is why? If our pay scales are appreciably lower than what the market pays why would we be OK with paying salaries that are not comparable with the market? If a pastor is worth his wages (and we can quote the scripture on that one) why are not others? 


I give honor to the many underpaid workers in Christian settings but I am sad that we of all people do not treat our staff with the dignity due them. Is this what we want to be known by? 


3. It amazes me but I still see differentials at times between what men are paid and women for the same or similar positions. As a society we have gotten beyond that in most good workplaces. We need to get beyond that in our ministry settings.


I have several suggestions.
First, look at the differential between your top paid staff and the next levels down and ask if it is fair and appropriate. 


Second, take some time to look at all salaried positions and ask if there are any that look odd to you - too high or too low.


Third, spend a few dollars or go to any number of free sites to get comparables for like positions in the marketplace to see where you sit.


Fourth, where adjustments should be made, come up with a plan to make them over a period of months or years and review your salary structure every three to four years.


We do not serve a cheap but a generous God. Let's be generous with our staff whom we say are the heart of our ministry!