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Monday, February 27, 2006

Performance-Based Pastor Salaries

Money This type of thing is always interesting to talk about... this comes from One:  thought, word, action.  What do you think?

Recently, a group of Wesleyan pastors and students at Asbury Seminary were discussing the issue of some Wesleyan churches who are considering moving towards a pastor performance based salary. There were a variety of comments made with some seeing the positives in it, while others being disgusted with the whole concept. For instance:

-If a church is in decline, should that be enough to validate a reduction of salary purely because of quantitative numbers?

-Can the pastor lose the prophetic voice because total attendance could decrease if the truth were boldly proclaimed?

-As one rewards countable numbers like baptisms or new members, how would we measure discipleship and assess spiritual growth?

-Would these bonuses also apply to staff pastors (youth, worship, and so forth)?

-Is this way of analyzing and rewarding a pastor biblical, or have we gone to far in allowing the corporate and capitalistic philosophies to enter into our churches?

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February 27, 2006 in Personnel Issues | Permalink

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The first thought of performance based worries me, but then I realised that I already have this system. We are all given raises based on our performance. It may not be to numbers and growth, but to our performance as a pastor. If you don't get a raise you can be assured that they don't like what you are doing. I like haveing definate goals of where we want the church to be, but I don't think we should tie our compensation to those goals. Some of hte goals are just to hard to measure. As for the question about a church in decline lowering the compensation, what about the church that is over 400 in attendance, with 3 pastors on staff. Now is at 200 or less. Should they still have 3 pastors? If the decline is due to the abuse or neglect of the pastor should he get a raise? The real problem is finding the reason fo rhte decline. If it is due to changing demegraphics or other things beyond control then a reduction in compensation is not warrented, but if these changes result in economic changes in the giving structure of the church it may be necessary

Posted by: Bart | Feb 27, 2006 10:43:10 AM

Pay for performance where the metric is attendance will lend itself to temping pastors to change what and how they preach from the pulpit. It will also create a competitive environment between churches because it is much easier to get a Christian to change a church then it is to get a pre-Christian into church.

Posted by: Paul Davis | Feb 27, 2006 11:40:48 AM

There are some things I believe that one cannot put dollar amounts to whether plus or minus. Whatever happened to a personal walk with Christ? A personal responsibility to seek ye first the kingdom of God? We wonder why so many pastors/leaders have the "egos" that they "appear" to have or let's face it - have not.... We are either quick to give pastors/leaders a good ole handshake or a knife in the back. Who is the church? One can encourage or sadly - discourage another person in their walk with the Lord... Ultimately - it is between that person and God.

Maybe that goes under what my thoughts for the day are?

Posted by: camey | Feb 27, 2006 11:40:48 AM

In a way, salary and performance go hand in hand at all churches. As a church growths, both in size and/or willingness of attenders to give financially, the more resources it has to increase the salary of staff.

Posted by: Brad | Feb 27, 2006 1:13:26 PM

Performance based support?

I knew this Scripture would come in handy sometime today when I read it this morning... Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
--2 Corinthians 2:17

How about faithfulness based support? Nah, that's not the American way. :)

The Catholics have us on this one I think, with their vow of poverty for ordained leadership. The best alternative that I am aware of is the 7th Day Adventists who pay by years of service no matter what church you serve. (I believe it is also paired with regional cost of living to keep it equitable).

Just some thoughts.

Posted by: Dean | Feb 27, 2006 1:38:39 PM

I'll have to respectfully disagree with Dean's comment, "The Catholics have us on this one I think, with their vow of poverty for ordained leadership." 1 Timothy 5:17 says, "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." Funny, but the Message says to "... give them a bonus... ." :)

I think the use of the adjective "well" indicates that we should evaluate and assess our staff. The tricky part, as others have pointed out, is in what is assessed and how.

Posted by: Floyd | Feb 27, 2006 4:39:06 PM

When it comes to performance based compensation, it does not always have to be about attendance or offerings. It may well have to do with quality of work done, not the response to the work. How does the pastor connect with the congregation, is this person faithful in the hours they have in office? Are they perpared, are they still learning and growing? If they are in a supervisory role are they nurturing the staff and holding them accountable? Are they lazy? Yes there is more than one of us out there who is lazy.

As some of the posts indicate we are in performanced based system, if we are not doing the job we will not receive increases. But so are the majority of our members and friends. They face the same thing in their work environments, and most of those are far more toxic than the churches we serve. I am not sure that we don't need a little pushing once in a while.

Posted by: Kent | Feb 27, 2006 4:55:10 PM

I agree with Kent that performance-based compensation doesn't always have to be about attendance and offerings. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it should rarely, if ever, be about that. Kent has suggested some good areas to consider. Evaluating performance may be relatively easy in some businesses - sales, for example. It is much harder in the more people-oriented businesses.

I think one of the questions many churches may need to consider is WHO should evaluate the Senior Pastor's performance? I've recently been involved in a congregational church where the lay church chairman was responsible. One problem with that is the fact that the chairman changes every year, so the pastor's performance appraisal is dependent as much on the chairman as it is on the pastor himself. The church had (and still has) no set criteria - either objective or subjective - for evaluating the senior pastor, so it is largely up to the whim of the chairman.

I'd be very interested in hearing what other churches do.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Feb 27, 2006 6:09:55 PM

Hi Floyd

Love ya' brother, but the double honor isn't filthy lucre. Do a bit more research and it's clear that honor is what exactly it's talking about, not monetary compensation.

Posted by: Dean | Feb 27, 2006 6:34:07 PM

Dean, you're right that "double honor isn't filthy lucre." But that's not what Floyd suggested. But if 1 Tim 5:17 isn't referring to some form of monetary compensation, then what do you make of the following verse, which quotes as scripture both an OT command (Deut 25:4) and an instruction from Jesus (Luke 10:7)? Both of these sayings clearly DO refer to compensation for work done.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Feb 27, 2006 7:23:49 PM

Preachers getting paid for performance? GREAT IDEA! I wonder why the OT Prophets, our Lord Jesus, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and other spiritual role-models didn't think of it???

(I'm obviously being sarcastic for those who didn't get it. Nothing like a little bit of Mammon for motivation...)


1: wealth regarded as an evil influence
2: (New Testament) a personification of wealth and avarice as an evil spirit; "ye cannot serve God and Mammon" [syn: Mammon]

Posted by: Bernie of FreeGoodNews.com | Feb 27, 2006 7:28:28 PM

HEY BERNIE I knew you would have a good responce here. I hope you are well.now give it to them.Dont back off. Your buddy John be blessed bernie.

Posted by: john | Feb 27, 2006 8:32:11 PM

Randy brings up a good question about performance appraisals or reviews. I've worked at two churches and in both cases such formal processes for feedback was unheard of, not just for the pastor but for all staff. In fact, I've found the idea of reviews is pretty foreign in many churches. As a former HR executive, I was surprised by the absence of a mechanism to offer staff feedback. In fact, I've discovered that most church staff don't get feedback of any kind (formal or informal) about their job performance. Does anyone have a system for offering staff feedback that works well?


Posted by: Wendi | Feb 27, 2006 9:15:29 PM

Wendi says:
" Does anyone have a system for offering staff feedback that works well?"

I'd say not to confuse feedback with performance reviews. I work in hitech. There's a Dilbert situation. Employees (through surveys) say they don't get enough feedback. HR responds by giving formal performance reviews more often-- not what the employee wanted! (Performance reviews usually entail the blessings and cursings; raise or warning.) All they wanted was feedback from their manager. All they want is casual feedback... how am I doing?

If your church knows about "discipling," this (feedback) is all automatic. It's at the crux of "discipleship!" How can you disciple (mentor) someone without feedback? Is the SP discipling his staff? Too busy for that? That should probably be their main job, as leader! (For those who have taken a leadership class, you'll know there is a HUGE difference between "leader" and "manager.")


Posted by: bernie dehler | Feb 28, 2006 1:18:41 AM

Bernie, how right you are that feedback and performance reviews are not synomous. Feedback should be regular, timely and ongoing. Nothing discussed in a performance review should come as a surprise, because it is nothing more than a time to review the feedback an employee has been getting throughout the past year.

However, my experience is that while churches do a good job at "discipling" as you describe, in regard to staff spiritual formation. However, I have found them to be lacking in providing more job specific feedback. Indeed there is a HUGE difference between leadership and management. But the difference doesn't mean that we should lead instead of manage. We must do both.

I am a fan of annual performance reviews because having these formal meetings part of the corporate management plan because they insure that staff member and supervisor sit together once a year to discuss the "feedback" (which flows both directions BTW) that has been part of the working relationship throughout the year.

So my question remains, are there some pastors whose church is doing a bang up job of offering regular feedback AND sitting annually w/ staff members to review how their ministry is going?


Posted by: Wendi | Feb 28, 2006 2:29:47 AM

Thanks for giving me a few moments of your time this morning President Jesus. I know I wasn't real faithful or loyal to you during that personal mentoring time when you first took me on for this work. To be very honest, I was entirely blown away when you didn't fire me on the spot, but chose instead to ask for my loyalty again, and then sent me out to feed your sheep by teaching them everything you taught me.

Well, I've run up against a problem here that I just can't quite figure out. You told me not to be concerned about my provision along the way because you would make sure that it would be taken care of. Well, I've tried to be faithful to all you have taught me, but it seems the sheep have decided they're not too interested in listening to the things you've had to say about all of this. They've decided to make this whole thing an employee owned corporation, and it kind of looks like you're just a figurehead CEO now and the sheep own all the stock.

Anyway, they've just informed me that they will be deciding from now on how much provision wil be provided for the services of my ministry, and they're going to base it on whether or not my performance measures up to their expectations.

So, what do I do now? You know what's going to happen if I keep doing what you brought me in here to do. If I keep on telling them whatever you taught me and give them what you told me to. Tey'll start out by taking away the provision, and if I don't stop listening to you and take my direction from them, they're going to eventually fire me Jesus...and I'm a bit concerned about that because there is a real likelihood they won't stop at that and will end up doing to me the same thing they did to you.

I know...you told me this would happen...but...Lord...I'm scared and don't really want to experience that...if there's any other possible way could you please keep this from happening? Whatever you desire Lord...!?

In fear and trembling, your bond-servant,


Posted by: Jim Eaton | Feb 28, 2006 5:12:22 AM

In terms of reviews our church has gone to, at my urging, a 360 degree review process where they gather input on specific areas from 20 people in the congregation from a wide spectrum. this also include the staff members I supervise. The spectrum for this include longstanding members, new people, those at the core and those who are more on the fringe. With 20 people answering over a wide range of areas it does not come down to attandance or the level of giving. I have found the feedback both encouraging and helpful. What make this additionally beneficial is that the church leadership is also reviewed on the job they are doing. It gives them feedback they normally do not get.

Posted by: Kent | Feb 28, 2006 10:39:56 AM

I have found that in any feedback process - from the "comment cards" in a church service to occasional employee feedback to formal performance reviews - it is very important to understand the source of the feedback. I like the 360-degree process that Kent noted, but we need to be careful about blindly accepting all of that feedback as equally valid.

Here's an analogy: After a football game, the quarterback is going to get a lot of feedback - from coaches, fellow players, the media, fans, family, etc. Each of those is going to bring a different bias and a different level of expertise and experience. The sportswriter may not like the QB, and so write with a negative slant. The QB's mom loves him no matter what, and may simply say, "you didn't play that badly, honey." The coaches and players will also have their own biases - but they probably have more expertise and so can provide more thorough and objective feedback.

It's similar in the work world, whether in a church or a business. In a dozen years of conducting performance reviews, I've learned that each individual "grades" himself or herself in a certain way; some tend to grade themselves lower while others tend toward a higher grade. Reviewers do the same (just think back to all the different teachers you've had). We can probably learn something from each person's feedback - but we need to understand the personal tendency of each reviewer so that we can find a balance that will be most accurate, objective, and beneficial for the person being reviewed.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Feb 28, 2006 12:30:13 PM

New REV magazine (in my mailbox yesterday). Good article about accountability, excerpts from a book called The Oz Principle with some good thoughts about feedback and 360 degree evaluation.

BTW, followed on the next page is another good article about reducing turnover and keeping staff - author . . . our favorite blog owner.


Posted by: Wendi | Feb 28, 2006 1:25:02 PM

If the church gets to evaluate the pastor then the pastor gets to evaluate the church.
Salary based upon performance in the church is sick. How can anyone evaluate that which is "spiritual". And who "qualifies" to perform the evaluation. Numbers are not spiritual, people are spiritual. God help us, again. (see post http://www.mmiblog.com/monday_morning_insight_we/2006/03/church_mayheim_.html)

Posted by: kc | Mar 6, 2006 12:37:53 PM

On one hand, I firmly believe in salary based on performance.

On the other hand, (as others have mentioned) how would you measure job performance of a pastor?

On the other hand, maybe it's just part of the duality of the pastor's role - one part preacher and one part administrator. Effective administration could be quantified.

On the other hand, if a pastor can be motivated by a salary increase more than he is motivated by the joy of fulfilling his calling, what does that say about him? Wouldn't this encourage pastors to be improperly motivated? (Simon, doest thou desire a raise? Feed my sheep) Seems to me that I'd rather have someone properly motivated. Isn't there an old saying about doing what you love and the money will follow?

I find myself in a conundrum and out of hands.


Posted by: Todd - not THAT Todd | Mar 8, 2006 9:42:18 PM

I think I should be paid what I am worth to the congregation God has given to me. My first church didn't pay me cash; they gave us an apartment and provided the heat/lights and water. They brought by chicken and beef and bacon as well as milk and whatever they bought extras that week. I enjoyed breakfast with my deacon/trustee who lived next door. Both my wife and I worked full time jobs and donated much to the ministry there too. Once the church could see its way to give us gas money and other expenses, they did. The salary came in about the ninth month. It was meager, but they wanted to do right by us. We never complained too much (except to the Lord) and we never went without things. PTL J

Posted by: Jay Gainer | Mar 8, 2006 9:55:46 PM

The Bema seat is where rewards are given. There are so many services pastors perform that are priceless and there isn't a way for us from the human perspective to put a monetary value on spiritual matters. Be faithful to what God has called you to do and leave the results and rewards in His hands. The elders and church in a healthy spiritual environment should be able to take care of, love and nourish their pastors and families whether it is through monetary or other means. I for one and looking forward to the day when pastors get their rewards and we are there cheering and saying thank you Lord!

Posted by: ld | Mar 8, 2006 11:50:10 PM

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