Posted November 22, 2005
The Statistics on the Financial Compensation and Benefits of Lay Ministers
The increase in salaries since 1990 (in terms of nominal dollars) is
striking. In most categories lay parish ministers have doubled their annual
The Census Bureau’s Current Populations Survey shows that lay parish
ministers’ salaries are fairly on par with salaries (overall) nationally.
The figure does not parse out non-profits or people with similar education
levels, but deals with median income levels for full-time work.
Two-thirds either strongly agreed (22.5 percent) or agreed somewhat (45.7
percent) that their annual earnings were adequate for their personal, family
or religious congregational needs.
However, about a third of ministers (31.8 percent) do not find their annual
earnings adequate for their personal, family or religious congregational
needs. Nearly four in 10 (37.8 percent) do not believe that their parishes
have the resources to compensate them adequately.
In terms of major benefits, parishes are on par with private industry and in
some instances better. With respect to medical and dental insurance, and
pensions, the parishes compare favorably with the private sector; only in
respect to life insurance do they fall somewhat short.
More than 85 percent of ministers describe their work as meaningful, good,
providing a sense of accomplishment, satisfying, challenging, spiritually
rewarding, creative, respected, life-giving and appreciated — all qualities
one longs for in a job.
Perhaps the best indicator of satisfaction is the high percentage of parish
ministers who would encourage others to enter parish ministry: 87.1 percent.