Do you work for a church? Do you feel overworked? Underpaid? You’re not alone. Many people feel that way, not just in the church environment.
Where do you draw the line in working for the Lord and working long hours with little compensation?
Will a survey of 142 pastors, worship leaders, and volunteers supply the answer, or at least give a guideline? About 52% of the people who replied to the survey were between the ages of 34-54 years. The group consisted of 60% females and 40% males. Full-time paid staff were 30.99%, part-time paid staff made up 34.51% and 26.76% were volunteers.
Church Worker Salary: Overworked & Underpaid
Ask most people and they will tell you an average workweek is 40 hours, from Monday to Friday. Is this the norm or are there exceptions? How often do you go shopping over a weekend? Have you ever noticed that shop assistants’ and cashiers’ workweeks aren’t necessarily from Monday to Friday?
Going to church on Sunday? Your pastor, the ushers, and the worship team work on Sundays and during the week, too. The feedback of 59 church staff indicated that 44.07% of employees work 40 hours or more per week and 16.95% work 30-40 hours per week.
How does their workweek compare to the average American citizen?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that a workweek differs from industry to industry. Logging and mining workers, for example, work an average of 44.6 hours per week. In the health and education industry, the average is 32.8 hours per week.
Statistics indicate that, from 2006 to 2016, an average workweek remained at 34.6 hours per week. That is 5.4 hours less than the 40-hour week. According to the survey, 44.07% of church employees/volunteers work longer hours than the average American does and 10.17% work less.
What about overtime?
Overtime burdens employees all over America. Is more money worth the price you pay for missing out on family time, recreation, or watching your kids grow up? The average American works 3.3 hours per week overtime according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is almost an extra hour per work day.
Fifty-nine employees commented in the survey about overtime. More than 80% of church staff are asked to work overtime:
- 44.07% church workers always work overtime
- 39.98% occasionally work overtime.
The same group that works 40 hours or more per week are probably the ones that always work overtime, too. Those who work 10-40 hours per week are sometimes asked to work overtime, too.
Are they compensated?
The typical U.S. annual household income in 2014 was $53,657 and has barely changed according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Payscale.com gave examples of median salaries earned in July 2015:
- an administrative assistant earned $23,421-$48,187;
- an office manager earned $42,491;
- a police officer earned $47,938; and
- a manufacturing engineer earned $63,745.
IRS tax return statistics show that the middle point of the tax return is $34,823. The majority of households (67.8%) make $70,492 in taxable income. The top 5% of households make $167,728.
The 59 survey participants indicated that 22.03% of church employees earn in the range of $35,000-$45,000 and 27.12% earn between $15,000-$25,000. These salaries are for individuals, while median households normally have two earners.
Church employees’ salaries are within the median range.
Minimum wage in America is $7.25 per hour. Of the 34 people who revealed their hourly rate, 2.94% were paid minimum wage. An hourly rate of $10-$14.99 was paid to 32.35% and 50% received an hourly rate of $15 or more.
More than half of the employees have been working for the church for at least 3 years. An interesting result is that 44.07% have worked for 4 years or longer at the church. It is the same percentage of people whose workweek is 40 hours or longer and who always work overtime.
Who are these dedicated people that represent the 44.07%? Could it be the pastors? Whoever they are, their salaries do not reflect the hours they work. They may earn within the average range, but they work 5.4 hours longer per week and they always work overtime. In other words, they always work more than 40 hours per week for the same salary that most Americans work 34.6 hours per week for.
They also work weekends and they work holidays.
How does one solve this situation?
Statistics show that only 10% of church members tithe. What do tithes have to do with overworked and underpaid church staff?
The Bible teaches that you should bring your tithe into the storehouse (the church). In the book of Malachi, God challenges you to test him in this regard. It is the only place in the Bible that He tells you to test Him.
The reason why you tithe is to honor the Lord. It is to proclaim that God is the Lord of your finances. Everything belongs to God, anyway.
Since the days of the Old Testament, the priests were compensated from the offerings and tithes that the Israelites brought to the tabernacle and, later, to the Temple. The same principles apply today. Your pastor needs time and freedom to pray for you and your loved ones, to minister to you, to prepare Sunday’s message, and to spend time in God’s presence.
How can you expect your pastor to do everything required as a minister and also work another job to earn a living? How can you expect your worship team to lead you into the presence of the Lord without having time to practice, to write songs, to hear from the Lord, because they have to earn a living through their other job?
Do the math. If the congregation would honor God and tithe, then there would be more than enough funds to compensate your pastor and church staff for their long hours of labor. There will be enough to bless volunteers for their time and effort.
Is this possible? Absolutely! In Exodus 25, the Lord instructed Moses to raise a contribution. In Exodus 35, Moses had to stop the Israelites from contributing anymore because they were giving too much.
The moment there are more funds available, more staff can be employed to help carry the burden.
God created the world and then he rested. In the Book of Genesis, he proclaimed a day of rest. Six days of the week you can work, but the seventh day is a day of rest.
This is applicable to everyone, not only the Israelites. It also applies to church staff. They work on Sundays, so give them Mondays to rest.
Christmas and Easter are the busiest seasons in the church world. You may be on holiday, but your pastor and church staff are working. Give them the grace to take leave during the year at regular intervals.
The pastor is the leader of the congregation. The congregation should support their pastor. Hold up his arms when he gets weary the way Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up during the battle in Exodus 17.
What do you suggest? How do you solve the problem of underpaid and overworked church staff? What suggestions do you have to thank volunteers for their valuable time and input?