Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cash Salary, part two

In part one, I discussed the negotiation of cash salary for emerging seminary graduates. In this post, I want to think about the same topic for those who are already pastors and moving to a new ministry. (Most of these apply to seminarians as well.)

In some ways, the factors that hinder a seminarian from making a fair estimation of needed cash salary are removed. For example, those already in the ministry have adjusted to the absence of the many "perks" I mentioned that seminarians have to reduce the costs of living. They have established their work "wardrobes" and have, probably, upgraded their home furnishings. And, they have likely have grown used to "full-price" housing, having left the bargains of seminary housing behind some time before.

But other factors may remain: especially if they are younger (in life and in ministry), their families may continue to grow, so housing size may continue to be a concern. And for most established pastors, take-home pay is unlikely to be abundant; the sense of being "poor" doesn't stop after seminary for most pastors.

So the pastor in transition may be looking to the move as a chance to start fresh and tie up some financial loose-ends. This is probably a reasonable expectation: having a few more years of experience usually means that a move to a new ministry is a move "up" in church size and responsibility-- and therefore (hopefully) pay.

So what should a pastor keep in mind while transitioning?
  • Household cost of living changes. How much has your life changed since you began the ministry where you are? Have you gotten married? Did you have a baby (or another one)? Has your ailing parent come to live with your family? All of these changes impact your household budget, of course-- costs for groceries, staples, clothes, and gas are probably higher now than before. So they should impact the negotiation of the cash salary in your terms of call, as well.
  • Housing changes. If you had any changes in the household cost of living, you probably need a larger housing situation, as well. Maybe you've been able to manage in a small apartment, but now that you're married you've felt a bit cramped. Maybe the condo that suited your new marriage in the city won't quite serve your family of four in the suburbs. These will almost completely come under the heading of "Housing Allowance" but there are a very few things that won't. For example, if you are moving into a church-owned house, repairs you make to the house won't be covered under "Housing Allowance." (When I discuss "Housing Allowances" I'll go into more detail about this.)
  • Ministry cost adjustments. Depending on what type of change you are making ministry-wise, your personally-born ministry costs may change. Are you moving from a rural area or small town to a larger town or city (or vice versa)? Then your mileage and vehicle costs will change. Moving from a solo pastorate to an assistant or associate pastor role? You may find yourself with fewer expenses than you had before-- or more. This is a pretty subjective adjustment, and will require experience, thought, and a heavy amount of guessing!
  • Cost of living adjustments. Whenever you move from one town to another (or even from one area of a large city to another), there will be cost of living adjustments. These are the differences between the prices of gas, housing, groceries, taxes, and a lot of other things. The government maintains a cost of living index, and every city (and sometimes townships within a city) are measured against this index. Do some research to find out what the cost of living adjustments will be when you move from your current residence to a new place.
In part three (to be posted Monday), I'll talk through the steps of how to determine what the bottom line is.

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