When sharing statistics that the National Association of Evangelicals has learned about pastors and their struggling finances, it’s common to hear responses like, “Wow, I had no idea so many pastors were underpaid and struggling. I hear about how wealthy some church pastors are and kind of assume all pastors are doing all right.”
In reality, the vast majority of pastors serve with small salaries in small churches that have small budgets. Certainly some pastors are being compensated well for their ministry, and a few have extravagant salaries. But the research shows that those pastors are in the minority. Anecdotal evidence suggests that values and trends in pastor compensation may vary among ethnic groups, but little research has been done in this area.
In this Evangelicals magazine, we pass on the information we do have and hear from experts who are helping pastors, churches, seminaries and denominations address the financial difficulties that many pastors face. We hope it serves as a reality check that pastors need help and that all of us can play a part in ensuring adequate support for the pastors who serve us and our communities.
While some churches, seminaries and denominations can and should do more to financially support their pastors, we also know that many want to do more but don’t know how to make the numbers work. In these pages, we offer some innovative solutions and practical help for pastors, churches, seminaries and denominations.
Despite the statistics about pastor finances, we aren’t discouraged. In fact, there is a wealth of resources to alleviate the pressures pastors and churches face, and more and more attention is being given to the financial situations of pastors. We are optimistic that the conversation is changing, and the tide is turning for pastors and their finances.