What Associate Pastors Are Paid


By: John C. LaRue, Jr.

Associate pastors serve many churches with skill and determination. What compensation do they receive for their dedicated hours of work? Let’s take a look.


Full-time associate pastors:

* Average base salary: $20,617

* Average housing/utility allowance (or parsonage equivalent) for the 76 percent who receive it: $10,232

* Average pension/retirement contributions for the 58 percent who receive them: $3,578

* Average self-employment (social security) allowance for the 34 percent who receive it: $2,587

* Average insurance (health, life, disability) premiums paid for the 75 percent receiving this benefit: $3,549

* Average total compensation: $34,022

Part-time associate pastors (work an average of 18 hours per week):

* Average base salary: $8,443 (average hourly wage: $9.02)

* 19 percent receive insurance coverage.

* 17 percent receive parsonage or housing/utilities compensation.

* 17 percent receive self-employment (social security) allowance.

* 12 percent receive pension/retirement benefits.


Graph #1 shows the range of total compensation (salary, housing, and benefits) for full- and part-time associate pastors.


High quartile. One-fourth receive compensation amounting to more than this.

Median. This is the midpoint; half earn more and half earn less than this.

Low quartile. One-fourth receive compensation amounting to less than this.

Note: Compensation varies by factors such as pastor’s age, type of community, and region of the country. Most significant factors: Church budget (see Graph #2) and denomination. Example: Average total compensation for full-time associate pastors in churches with a budget under $300,000 is $29,276, while those in churches with a budget over $1 million average 82 percent more–$53,192.


These figures represent the money churches reimburse full-time associate pastors for out-of-pocket expenses connected with their ministry. Note: Since not all associate pastors receive reimbursements in all the categories, the figures in parentheses indicate the percentage of ministers receiving the reimbursement.

The dollar figures are annual averages for those who receive the reimbursement.

Auto expenses (63%): $2,298

Convention/continuing education (57%): $638

Professional expenses (31%): $502 Entertainment/hospitality (12%): $612

Total reimbursed expenses (77%): $2,635


The typical church that employs a full-time associate pastor is approximately three times larger than the one that employs a part-time associate, as shown here:

Indicator of Has part-time Has full-timechurch size associate associate
Median Sunday morning attendance 85 301
Median 1991 church budget $100,000 $275,000


This compensation study, conducted by the publisher of YOUR CHURCH, had a response rate of 40 percent on nearly ten thousand surveys sent on a random basis.

Important: Fourteen other full- and/or part-time church positions are covered in the 272-page 1992 Church Compensation Report, which reports the results of the study. Plus: The report compares pastoral compensation by the following: 8 attendance sizes, 24 denomination, 8 budget sizes, 9 U.S. geographical regions, 4 types of community, 4 pastor’s age categories, 4 pastor’s education categories, and gender.

How to buy: Call 800/722-7744 or mail payment to Christianity Today Inc., 1992 Church Compensation Report, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188. Cost $49.95.

(The above material appeared in the May/June 1992 issue of Your Church Magazine.)

Christian Information Network