As many churches enter budget season, they are seeking ways to stretch limited budget dollars to cover a myriad of good and God-honoring goals, including Cooperative Program giving and outreach in their local community.
One additional area churches must never forget is their biblical obligation to provide well for their pastors and other church staff.
“Paul reminds Timothy that 'the laborer is worthy of his wages,’” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “And to the Galatian believers he reminded them, 'Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.’
"One thing I am convinced, after a quarter century in four different pastorates and another two decades here at GuideStone®, is that most all churches want to do right by their pastors and staff. Some simply do not allocate resources in a way that helps the pastor.”
GuideStone makes available its Compensation Planning Guide for free on its website, GuideStone.org/CompensationPlanning. This downloadable workbook helps develop a solid budgeting plan for the benefit of church and staff. The website also links to the most recent SBC Church Compensation Survey to help gauge how other churches of similar size and geography are compensating their pastors.
In establishing a compensation plan that follows best practices, churches are encouraged to follow six essential steps, outlined in the Compensation Planning Guide:
- Determine the needs
- Establish written policies
- Provide for ministry-related expenses
- Provide employee benefits (including health and retirement benefits)
- Determine personal income
- Complete a compensation planning summary
“Many churches opt to give their pastor a package amount — a lump sum out of which the pastor must then pay for insurance, business expenses and other church expenses — a practice that inflates the appearance of salary, causing the pastor to pay significantly more in taxes than he would otherwise legally owe,” Hawkins explained. “Following the steps outlined in GuideStone’s Compensation Planning Guide will help ensure the church is providing properly for their pastor and doing so in a way that protects his family from paying more in taxes than they must.”
For further study, churches can also access a useful primer at GuideStone.org/CompensationPlanning, which helps explain the benefits of compensation planning for pastors and church leaders.
“For more than a century now, GuideStone has been about the business of advocating on behalf of churches and the pastors they serve,” Hawkins said. “It is our sincere privilege to help churches as they seek to care for their pastors even as their pastors care for them. We’d encourage every pastor to take time to walk through these compensation planning resources with their leadership and prayerfully consider how the church can most effectively use their resources for kingdom purposes while not forgetting to properly care financially for their pastor and his family.”