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Church Salaries in the Midst of Inflation

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So, what do we do with our team’s salaries in the midst of all of this inflation? Here are a few things to think through as you approach the salary conversation with your leadership and staff.

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Hey there, it’s Matt Steen with another Chemistry Conversation.

So, a lot of conversations I’ve been having lately are about what do we do with our team’s salaries in the midst of all of this inflation? So, I’ve heard of denominations setting minimum increases for teams. I heard one denomination say 5.3%. I’ve heard a lot of churches and Executive Pastors talking about having an 8% cost of living adjustment at the end of the year. Others at 4%, and I’ve heard some that are just saying, hey, we have to reduce salary this year. We don’t have the ability to do this.

And so, I thought this was a good time to kind of come back and revisit some of how we approach salaries here at Chemistry. So, we don’t necessarily go in and say, hey, it needs to be this much … it needs to be that much. What we do is we tell churches that you need to be as generous as you possibly can while at the same time being good stewards of what God has entrusted us with. Okay? Now, some people may say, hey, that’s consultant-speak and you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth… and yes I am. I am. And so, you are welcome. But what we say when we do this is you do need to be as generous as you possibly can with your staff team, but you also understand that this is a finite resource.

So, there are some principles that we encourage churches that we lean into as they are setting salaries. And we encourage them to set salaries knowing that there are people in your church that understand what it costs to live where you are. What it costs to live with families with kids where you are and to kind of tap in on that. There are other resources like datausa.io, which is a great resource that Deloitte puts out, churchsalary.com is a great resource, and then your local school system should be more than willing to share their pay scale with you because that’s all public knowledge. So, I would lean into those as things that help you understand what’s fair and what’s liveable. Tap into some of the people in your congregation that would be willing to share, you know, what it’s like to live with kids and family and all that. But kinda tap into some of these principles.

The first one is this: Number one, we want our pastors to be able to model generosity as much as they can. Okay? What do I mean by model generosity? Every Girl Scout in the entire church is going to hit up the pastor with a box of Samoas at some point. Okay? Every kid that’s going on a mission trip at some point is going to come up to the pastor and say, hey, will you sponsor me on this mission trip? Every Boy Scout is selling popcorn. You kind of get where I’m going here. You may get into a building project and want the pastor to be able to lead the way in giving to this. And so one of the things that we try not to do is get to a point where, when you set up a salary for a pastor where they are going to have to choose between being generous with what God has given them and paying for groceries that week. What we’re trying to do is prevent the fights and harsh conversations between husband and wife when they say, hey, you bought a five-dollar box of cookies and we really needed that for a gallon of milk. And so, keep in mind that one of the things that you want to have happen is that you want your pastor to be able to give generously to the Kingdom, to your church, and to other entities.

Okay, so that’s one thing.

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Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.