2024 Minimum Expectations for Clergy Compensation (Compensation Guidelines)
The Clergy Compensation Task Force was appointed by the Executive Committee in 2016 and was charged with the task of reviewing the guidelines. They began by reviewing compensation guidelines from other synods (many of whom were similar in demographics or geography) and guidelines such as the Atlantic District-LCMS and the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
As they reviewed guidelines set by others, it became clear that our synod was significantly below others. As the task force and then the Synod Council discussed significant changes to the guidelines, it was noted that as a synod with the highest cost of living, we must have guidelines that reflect that. Changing the guidelines is one way we, as a synod, can take care of our pastors. To have leaders best equipped for ministry, we need to encourage their whole family to be cared for. We must recognize that many of our pastors, in getting theological education, have also accrued significant student loan debt. We also need to say that the work of our pastors is of the utmost value to our faith communities and deserves appropriate wages.
This was the first major review and revision of the guidelines in a very long time. Both the task force and our synod council discussed how congregations may find difficulty in making these changes and how pastors may need support in advocating these changes. As such, here are some tips and talking points that came out of those conversations:
- Talk about money. Conversations about money tend to also bring out anxiety in people. We need to practice just talking about money and wages. As a pastor, talk with other colleagues about money and finances. The more practice we have, the easier it will become. If you are a Portico Benefits Member, you are eligible for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which gives you free and confidential time with a counselor, access to articles, and referrals to other professionals and agencies. Call 1-800-432-5155 or visit bluecrossmn.com/eap.
- Advocate for our pastors. Approving these guidelines is one way our synod council is proactive in caring for and advocating for our pastors. Consider inviting a Synod Council member to your next congregational council meeting. If you need an advocate who can be a more consistent voice, consider a neighboring pastor who could advocate for you in your congregation, and you could do the same in theirs. Your congregation may have lay leaders who can help advocate for pastors’ salaries and benefits. One synod council member shared their experience with a pastor who had two lay leaders who could articulate issues and free the pastor to remain a faith leader. Another synod council member noted that their congregation has a “Parish and Pastor Committee." It consists of 4 members appointed by the pastor and four members appointed by the congregational council. The group serves as a liaison between the parish and pastor on several issues – salary, worship changes, etc.
- Value pastoral ministry. Multiple people noted that the pastor doesn’t want to look like they are in ministry for the wrong reasons or that it is all about the money. Please take note of the tasks and vital ministry our clergy is carrying out.
- Practice good stewardship. Financial resources in our congregation are a gift from God for our mission. Good stewardship education can help congregations better understand how our offering makes a difference in the life of a congregation and its leaders. Our synod and church-wide organizations provide free resources to help with congregational stewardship.
The synod council adopted these changes with the understanding and expectation that congregations and pastors would engage in conversations about meeting the guidelines. The task force and synod council will continue their work to review and revise the guidelines annually.
Click on the highlighted text below for the latest edition of the compensation guidelines.
To ensure confidentiality, please download and save the Excel spreadsheet to your computer and close the Clergy Compensation Guidelines document on the website before use.
The synod recommends that congregations follow the IRS guidelines for mileage reimbursement; check the current rate at www.irs.gov.
If you have any questions or need more clarification on the guidelines, please contact Donna-Mari Fieldsa, Assistant to the Bishop for Finance, at 212-870-2378.