General Interest

4 Important Salary Benchmarks You Might Not Know About

By April 6, 2016 No Comments

By Warren Bird

Young business people meeting around table“What do YOU want to know about the financial side of churches like the one you serve?” That’s a question I continually ask people. Then wherever possible, I try to find out.

We’ve been doing surveys about large-church finances since the early 2000s. We’re fielding our current survey right now, if your church hasn’t yet participated (to find out, just send an email to Here are some of the benchmarks we’ve discovered over the years:

1. What’s the strongest influence on salary levels for senior team members of a large church? Maybe the person’s experience or the geographic location of the church?

Neither. Those matter, but church size is the biggest predictor. Specifically, the larger the church’s total budget, the higher the senior pastor’s salary.

2. What percent of a church’s total budget typically goes to staffing costs?

Half of large churches spend 39% to 52% of their total budget on staffing costs. Specifically the the median is 46% for churches with attendances from 60,000 down to 1,000 — though that number varies a bit by church size.

3. Does church size affect giving levels?

Yes, the larger the church, the less the per-person giving level (total donations divided by worship attendance). However, certain factors buck that trend. For example, the greater the emphasis on missions — ministry beyond the church walls — the higher the giving per person.

4. Does being multisite affect salary levels?

No and yes. The senior pastor of a multisite is paid slightly more than the senior pastor of a similar-size single-site church. But the role and salary of campus pastors (site pastors) affects a lot of other salaries. We will provide our most thorough analysis yet of multisite dynamics later this year — FREE to churches that participate in this year’s survey (and it’s not too late to do so!).

Please take a look at the “2016 Large Church Salary, Staff and Budget Survey” at The introductory pages explain all the benefits of participation, from receiving actual salary tables to a chance to win one of ten $100 Amazon gift cards. (And the executive summary we publish will be sponsored by Vanderbloemen Search Group.)

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Warren Bird

Author Warren Bird

Warren Bird, Ph.D. has been named a Leadership Network Senior Fellow in light of his exemplary service 2006-2018 as Director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at Leadership Network. He serves as full-time VP of Research for (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). An ordained minister with background as both a pastor and seminary professor, Warren is an award-winning author or co-author of 31 books for ministry leaders including Hero Maker with Dave Ferguson, How to Break Church Growth Barriers with Carl George, and Next: Pastoral Succession that Works with William Vanderbloemen. Other recent titles are Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work with Jim Tomberlin, and Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include "Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard," and "The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches." See also research reports at and He is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading researchers of megachurches, multisite churches, large church compensation and high-visibility pastoral succession. He also oversees the world's only active, sortable list of global megachurches. Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird.  Click here to subscribe to Leadership Network Advance to get updates from Leadership Network.

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