Who Should Know Specific Church Salaries?

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Who gets to see all the salaries in a church?

Warren Bird and Leadership Network have completed an exhaustive study on large churches (500 attendance and up) and ministry pay. The research is excellent and the conclusions are fascinating (see the study at

Dr. Bird prefers our article on the study to coincide with the date the story goes to the general public. For that reason, I will offer this teaser and provide the full story on social media when it's released.

This study was broad. The researchers surveyed 1,251 churches. Most of the churches are in America, but a small percentage of them were outside North America. As a researcher of churches, I know this study has to be one of the most comprehensive of its kind.

Among the fascinating tidbits is that nearly three-fourths of the responding churches are growing. Simply stated, we are hearing from larger churches that are reaching people.

Here are four excerpts for you to consider:

1. No churches made the salaries available to the general public. That is 0%. None. Zero. Nada. Out of over 1,200 churches.

2. Only 1% of the churches made the salaries available to the entire congregation. This data point was the most surprising and the most fascinating to me. I knew anecdotally that most larger churches do not give out the salaries to the full congregation, but I am really surprised that "most" equals 99%.

3. Of all the churches in the study, 82% made the salaries known to an in-house group that deals specifically with personnel issues. That in-house group includes boards, personnel teams or committees, finance and budget teams, or some sub-group of these larger groups.

4. Many of these churches likely offer a "hybrid" approach. This fourth point is not in the study, but comes from my own consultations and observations. Many churches do not make the salaries known to the congregation as a whole, but they are willing to share the information with church members individually on request.

Let me conclude with two points. First, this research is descriptive, not prescriptive. The Leadership Network team is simply offering the results of a study. Those who read the results are left to draw their own conclusions and express their own opinions. Likewise, this blog post is descriptive as well.

Second, please view the downloads available at This research team has provided an incredible service with this research. It deserves our attention.

I look forward to your discussion on this topic.

Originally posted at

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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