60 Percent of Pastors' Spouses Say Church Salary Not Enough to Meet Needs: LifeWay

People are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money in this illustration taken April 4, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Illustration)

Nearly two-thirds of pastors' spouses have said that the salary received by their church is not enough to live off of, according to a recently released survey by LifeWay Research.

In research released Tuesday, LifeWay found that 60 percent of surveyed spouses of pastors agreed with the statement "Our family's financial situation requires more than the salary received from the church."

"About a third (36 percent) say they worry every month about making ends meet. Forty-six percent say they worry about not being able to save for the future. Sixty percent say the compensation paid by the church isn't enough to support their family," noted LifeWay.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said that they have a job outside of their spouse's church; of that number, 26 percent work for a different ministry, church, or nonprofit.

Data for the survey was drawn from a mail survey conducted June 21 to Aug. 2, with the sample space being 720 pastor spouses from various Protestant denominations.

"LifeWay Research's survey focused mainly on spouses of a senior pastor or solo pastor at Protestant churches from a variety of denominations, including Baptist (29 percent), non-denominational (15 percent), Methodist (9 percent), Lutheran (9 percent) and Assemblies of God (7 percent) congregations," explained LifeWay.

"The survey also included spouses of Presbyterian (4 percent), Pentecostal/charismatic (3 percent), Church of Christ (3 percent) and Church of God (2 percent) pastors, among others."

Other findings included 59 percent saying that congregational demands interfere with family free time and 72 percent saying their spouse has experienced resistance to their leadership.

LifeWay also found that 85 percent of respondents also said that their church takes "good care of us" and 86 percent saying their church considers their marriage should be a "role model" for the congregation's marital relationships.

"Most pastors' spouses feel a call to ministry and enjoy their roles inside and outside their church," said LifeWay. "Many also have few friends, think they yell at their kids too much, and worry about money."

LifeWay's survey finding that a majority of pastors' spouses believe their church salary is not enough to provide for their financial needs comes not long after a study found a small gender pay gap among church leaders, largely due to a lack of compensation for male clergy.

In a July study, researchers from the University of Oklahoma found that in 2016 female clergy made 93 cents on the dollar, which was far smaller than for secular occupations.

Cyrus Schleifer, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma's Sociology Department and co-author of the study, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that this small pay gap was "largely due to the declines in male clergy pay."

"If male clergy income was growing at the same rate as other highly educated individuals in population, then the gender gap in pay among clergy would be much closer to that of the general population," explained Schleifer in July.

"The factors that seem to matter the most for our analyses is the very slow growth rates of male clergy income and, relatedly, the general devaluing of the clergy occupation."

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