A pay raise for your pastor

Am I really going to ask for a raise after only being here two weeks? That is exactly what I did, but I had good reasons.

I was a full-time seminary student, pastoring a small church and working 15-20 hours a week at a part-time job. I had figured out the needs of our family budget and determined that if the church paid me a little extra each week, I could devote more time to the ministry of the church.

So, after having only been their pastor for two weeks, I asked for a $50 a week raise.

I made my case to the congregation, which agreed to the pay increase on a trial basis. If the church grew and giving increased, then they would maintain the raise indefinitely. The Lord blessed the work and the pay increase held up.

Most pastors are reluctant to ask for a pay raise for fear that some in the congregation will think he is overly concerned about money. A pay raise for your pastor will be a blessing to him — not just the monetary increase, but knowing that the church appreciates his ministry and wants to show that appreciation in a tangible way.

Here are five reasons why Kentucky Baptists may want to consider a pay increase for their pastors and staff in 2022.

1. The current rate of inflation: The Consumer Price Index, the most widely followed inflation gauge, increased 7.0% from December 2020 to December 2021. This represents the highest rate in nearly 40 years. Consumers are experiencing a price increase in many goods and services. Hotels rates are up 27.6%, groceries are up 6.5% (steak 20%, bacon and chicken up 18 and 11%), gas is up 50% from December 2020, heating fuel is up 24%, new cars are up 12% and used cars are up 37%. Almost everything your pastor and his family will purchase in 2022 will cost more than it did last year.

2. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): The COLA for Social Security (SS) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans increased 5.9 percent in 2022. Many of our churches take this number into account when thinking through a potential pay increase for their pastor and staff.

3. The practices of others: Many secular employers expect to pay more in salaries during what is being referred to as the “Great Resignation.” The Conference Board — a 501 non-profit business membership and research group — forecasts a 3.9% jump in wage costs for firms. That includes pay for new hires — the highest rate since 2008.

4. The value of your pastor and staff: The Apostle Paul instructed the church in Corinth that those who preach the gospel should make their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). From 1 Timothy 5:17-18, we learn that the ministry worker deserves his wages. Pastors and church staff perform an essential service to the local church. Those of us who receive their ministry must strive to support them financially in the work they do.

5. The giving of the church: Having talked to Kentucky Baptist pastors and churches nearly daily for the past two years, I have heard firsthand the impact COVID-19 has had on congregations. Attendance is down, some churches experienced division over masks and in-person vs. virtual services and many pastors have experienced decision-making fatigue. What I have not heard is a widespread decrease in giving in most churches. In many cases over the past two years, giving has remained strong — increasing rather than decreasing. Your situation may be different than others, but anecdotally speaking, most Kentucky Baptist churches have experienced strong giving — even during the pandemic.

Some churches may have held off giving pay increases to their pastors and staff because of concerns related to COVID-19 and tightened spending by the church. This may be a good time to consider how well the church is caring financially for those who care so faithfully for the church.

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