SalarY -

SalarY -

cover story




by rick lawrence

The results of our biennial salary survey show that things are looking up, paycheck-wise.

Find the “new norm” for youth pastors in your area of the country,

your size of church, and with your experience and educational background.

Every two years for the last two decades I’ve sent out a salary survey to

thousands of youth leaders. 1 And every two years I’m reminded all over

again that our survey is one of the group community’s guilty pleasures—

you know, the kind of thing you hate to admit you love. After we publish

our results, I always get indignant letters from youth leaders who see

our survey as (at best) crass or (at worst)

contrary to the very spirit of youth ministry.

But, of course, Jesus talked a lot about

money—he knew the kind of leverage

(for good or ill) it has in our lives. It

was a big part of his real-life agenda.

So it’s part of ours, too.

I know from two decades of publishing

this survey that it’s been a crucial

tool for hundreds of thousands of

youth leaders as they take a new

job in ministry or negotiate with

church leaders about a raise. It’s

my hope that these results will

be a catalyst for blessing in your

family—everyone knows money

isn’t the driving force behind youth

ministry, but it can make a

big impact on your ability

to live out your calling.

And that’s the real

bottom line.

1 For the 2007


2007 Youth Ministry Salary Survey

Youth Ministry Salary

Survey, we had

1,121 respondents.

Because of a change

in our survey, respondents

chose a range for

their salaries rather than a

specific number. The numbers

you see here are the mid-points for

those ranges, representing median

salaries for each category.




These numbers represent the full-time, paid youth pastors

who responded to our survey…

2007 2005

Average Base Salary (before benefits) $32,500 (+7%) $30,322

Average Salary Package (benefits included) $42,500 (+9%) $39,049

Average Salary Package for Men $42,500 (flat) $42,473

Average Salary Package for Women $37,500 (+13%) $33,200

Average Workweek 45 hours 48 hours

Yes, I’m Compensated Fairly 75% 72%

I Have Another Job Outside of Church 15% 17%

Sick Days 6 7

Vacation Days 14 15

The Bottom

Worth Noting: The average base salary for the

part-time, paid youth leaders who responded to our


survey is $12,500, and the average salary package is

about the same (since part-timers don’t often receive

additional benefits). The average workweek for a parttimer

is 25 hours, and the average age of a part-timer

is 38 (compared to the average age of a full-timer, at 33).

The Benefits of


The percentage of full-time,

paid youth pastors who receive

each of these benefits in their

salary package:

Personal/family health

insurance 67%

Continuing education/

training allowance 53%

Housing allowance 48%


contributions 47%

Car/travel allowance 44%

Book and magazine

allowance 43%

Professional supplies

allowance 41%

Contribution to Social

Security payment 33%

Use of parsonage or churchprovided

residence 9%

Any Way

You Slice It

To help you hone in on the salary

“norm” for your background,

experience, and setting, we’ve

broken out average salary

packages by…

Years of Paid Youth Ministry


1–2 years $32,500

3–5 years $37,500

6–9 years $37,500

10–15 years $42,500

16–20 years $47,500

20+ years $52,500

Region of the Country

Northeast $37,500

North Central $42,500

South $42,500

South Central $42,500

West $42,500

Number of Weekly Church


0–100 $22,500

101–200 $32,500

201–300 $37,500

301–500 $37,500

501–1,000 $42,500

1,001+ $47,500

Number of Kids in Senior

High Group

1–10 $27,500

11–30 $42,500

31–60 $42,500

61+ $47,500

Educational Background

High School Grad $32,500

Some College $42,500

College Grad $42,500

Some Graduate

School $42,500

Masters Degree $47,500

Ph.D. $52,500

Worth Noting: Many who

responded to this question said

they also receive use of a cell phone

along with a monthly calling plan.

Some said their church kicks in to

help with childcare expenses.

Extra Credit

Pay has always been a pressure for

youth pastors. That’s why so many are

bi-vocational (no, that doesn’t mean two

vacations a year…). Of the full-timers we

surveyed, one out of six (15%) work a

second job. But three-quarters (76%) of

part-timers say they work another job. Two

came up most often—Starbucks barista and

substitute teacher. Here’s an eclectic sampler

from the rest of the list:

Mother of Two; Guitar Instructor; Funeral

Home Employee; Financial Advisor; Home

Health Care Provider; Driver of School Bus;

Computer Repairperson; Audio Engineer;

Writer; UPS Driver; Realtor; Deputy Sheriff;

Nanny; Pharmaceutical Technician; Emcee

for Group Workcamps; Graphic/Web


group magazine nov / dec / 07

Designer; Songwriter; Choreographer;

Music/Audio Editor; and Attorney.

Worth Noting: About one out of

six (17%) full-time, paid youth pastors say

they asked for a raise in the last year—less

than half (45%) actually got one.

Joys of Multitasking

Got juggle Almost three-quarters (71%)

of full-time, paid youth pastors say they

have “other responsibilities” at their church

besides youth ministry. And those “others”

are sometimes really “other.” A sampler:

Prison Ministry, Summer VBS, Singing

Group, Building Scheduler, Safe Sanctuaries

Coordinator, Pilgrimage Leader, Skatepark

Ministry, Custodian, Webmaster, Upward

Sports Ministry, Supplies Shopper, Inner

City Satellite Church, Tech Support, Choir

Director, and Church Vehicle Bookings.

rick has been editor of group

for 20 years. He’s author of Jesus-

Centered Youth Ministry and JCQ’s

(Group). Reach him at

How Higher Ed Can Impact Your Bottom Line

Because I’m a youth ministry professor,

I’m often asked by youth pastors if

the costs of additional education “pay

off” in a higher paycheck. Generally

speaking, group’s biennial salary

survey consistently suggests that additional

education translates to a $10,000

“bump” at each level—a college grad

makes $10,000 more than a high school

grad, and earning a Master’s degree

translates to an extra $10,000.

In the wider culture, that’s no

surprise—the U.S. Census Bureau and the

U.S. Department of Commerce report a

positive correlation between education

and income. In addition to group’s

survey, the Church Tax & Law Report

surveys a dozen church staff positions.

The figures for youth leaders jump in

roughly the same way as group’s

numbers (but the overall averages are

higher, and the “base salary” number

includes a housing allowance).

by len kageler, ph.d.

Average Average

Base Salary

Salary Package

Less Than a

Bachelor Degree $42,009 $48,503


Bachelor Degree $42,200 $49,538

Completed Masters $49,329 $59,228

As with group’s survey, there’s a

significant difference in income between

Masters Degree grads and those who have

only an undergrad degree. Is a graduate

education a lot of work Of course! Will it

increase your knowledge and skills so you

can minister more effectively It should! Will

it help your bottom line The stats say yes!

len is a longtime youth minister who’s been a

professor of youth ministry at Nyack University

in New York for 14 years. He’s author of This

Way to Youth Ministry: The Companion Guide

and The Youth Minister’s Survival Guide (both

published by Zondervan).

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