Mega Churches’ Congregations, Staffing, Salaries Growing

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of large churches have grown in attendance during the past five years – including 36 percent growing by 30 percent or more. The rate dwarfs that of average North American churches, from which only 20 percent are seeing growth.

Growth tends to lead to larger staffs and budgets, according to a report released by Leadership Network in conjunction with Vanderbloemen Search Group. The report, authored by Warren Bird, Ph.D., drew on data from 1,251 churches with average weekend congregation attendance of 500 or greater in the United States, Canada, South Africa and a selection of other countries.

Of the 1,159 American churches sampled, 408 have amassed weekly attendance of 2,000 or greater — representing 26 percent of the total number of churches in the U.S. on that scale. These congregations are known as megachurches.

Growth within megachurches has translated to increased salary and benefits among senior pastors and executive staff, according to the report. The most common pay raise given to executive staffs at the 408 churches was 3.1 percent. More than half (54 percent) of senior pastors at megachurches have received a bonus in the past 12 months and the typical senior pastor receives additional benefits, including health insurance and retirement, with a cash equivalency of 21 percent of salary.

Other key findings among megachurches from the report include:

  • Nearly all (98 percent) of churches’ total budgets come from congregation, the rest coming from business revenue such as facility rentals, investment income such as endowment interest and other sources. Excluding churches in which congregational giving exceeds the established budget, the figure would stand at 95 percent;
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of churches’ total budgets go to staffing costs — consisting of salary, benefits and related expenses. Half of large churches spend between 41 percent and 55 percent of budgets on staffing;
  • For every 76 worshipers, there is the equivalent of one full-time staff person operating the church ranging from pastors to custodial staff; and,
  • The portion of churches that spend 10 percent or more of budgets on ministries beyond the congregation stands at 52 percent. Such ministries can include anything from soup kitchens to church planting; and,
  • The vast majority of churches (81 percent) keep knowledge of specific salaries limited to the church board, a subcommittee of the board or senior staff.

To receive a copy of the report, visit: www.leadnet.org/salary