7 Concerning Findings About Employment Benefits for Pastors

This data is a bit alarming for pastors and staff.
This data is a bit alarming for pastors and staff. (Lightstock )

I recently spoke with a pastor who was tearfully concerned about his health insurance. He had just received notice of a large premium increase that he could not afford. With a diabetic child, he did not know what to do.

The only good news in this story is that he had health insurance.

Many pastors do not. Even more church staff do not.

Once again, I turned to the data trove, 2016-2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, by Richard R. Hammar. Church Law and Tax, publishes the volume. The material includes data from 8,250 ministry positions in 2,500 churches.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

In my previous post, I looked primarily at compensation issues. In this post, I examine benefits of church staff.

I am concerned about some of the findings.

1. Fewer than half of solo pastors receive any health insurance benefits. A solo pastor is full-time without other pastors on staff. The news is better among lead or senior pastors, but it still is disconcerting. Fewer than two-thirds of lead pastors receive health insurance benefits.

2. Almost three-fourths of full-time worship/music leaders receive health insurance benefits. The worship leader is the most likely ministry staff to receive these benefits, but there are still over one-fourth of them who do not.

3. Many full-time church staff receive no retirement benefits. Those who do receive these benefits range from solo pastors (44%) to lead or senior pastors (64%). I am particularly concerned about the pastors of small churches who labor faithfully for 30 or 40 years and have no retirement plans made.

4. Almost all full-time staff get paid vacations. This information was one piece of good news in an overall concerning report.

5. Only six in ten full-time pastors and staff get any type of automobile reimbursement. Only five in ten children's ministers do so. This item is actually a reimbursable expense rather than a benefit. Those who do not get automobile reimbursements must pay the expenses out of pocket, so it becomes a de facto pay cut.

6. Very few full-time ministry staff receive either life insurance or disability insurance. At the very least, ministers should be made aware of the potential need of such insurances, even if they have to purchase small policies themselves.

7. The parsonage as a benefit has all but disappeared. Only about one in eight pastors have this benefit. The numbers will likely continue to get smaller.

It is a tragedy that many church members have misperceptions about pay and compensation of ministry staff. Many of our ministers are underpaid by community standards. Even more don't have benefits common in the secular world.

Would you church members make certain you are taking care of your pastor and church staff in terms of compensation and benefits? Also keep in mind that many of them have not received a raise in years.

Our pastors and church staff do an incredible job caring for us, the church members. Let's be sure we are taking care of them as well.

Let me hear from you.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.



Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders