Research Network Releases Study on Extravagant Megachurch Salaries

A national research network that primarily serves to assist with church growth efforts recently released a new study on megachurch salaries.

Leadership Network, led by Warren Bird, says that it studied salary trends from 209 of what it calls “game changer” megachurches across the United States in order to analyze the annual income of their senior pastors. The organization has been polling data since 2001.

A megachurch is defined as those with 2,000 or more congregants. Out of the 209 locations surveyed, 44 of them had 5,000 or more members. Each congregation’s budget ranged from nearly $2 million to approximately $30 million.

While exact amounts were withheld from this year’s results, the network divulged that salaries at megachurch facilities have increased 2% since their last survey in 2010, when the average salary for a senior pastor was $147,000. In doing the math, the increase would bring the figure up to around $150,000. Some megachurch leaders, however, received in excess of $260,000, while the lowest end for a large church was $80,000. Generally, for each 1,000 congregants, the salary increased by $8,000.

As can be understood, the larger the budget, the larger the salary was paid out. Age ranges for megachurch leaders were from the lower thirties to the lower seventies.

Geographic location also became a factor in the study as well. Bird analyzed the various regions of the country and saw that a pastor’s area of residence did have an impact on their salary. According to his studies, megachurch leaders in the South had the highest salary, followed by those in the West and the Northeast. Those paid the least were located in the Midwest.

Specific megachurches and names of staff were not released in the study.

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Megachurches make up a small percentage of churches in the United States, as most houses of worship across the country have fewer than 500 members. According to the National Association of Church Business Administration, the average salary of a pastor who shepherds a church of 300 congregants receives under $28,000 a year. Many pastors also find tentmaker jobs outside of the church in order to financially support their families.

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