Yesterday, during a visit for my daughter's birthday, she was asking me about pastors' salaries and how they should be set. I suggested this model:
- Survey the congregation about their salaries. If you take an accurate sample of the households in your congregation, you shouldn't have to poll every household. Some basic statistics applied to the size of your congregation will guide you in collecting a good sample.
- Note the salary range for the primary breadwinner in each family/household. This will occasionally be tricky, but usually it will emerge fairly clearly. It's important to note the primary earner's salary, since that is the baseline we're going for.
- Take the median figure in the range of your sample. Be sure to determine the median (mid-point) not the mean (average); one particularly high or especially low salary in the mix can throw off an average, but the median will always be in the middle. The median, then, becomes the benchmark for determining salary.
- Adjust the salary for each pastor accordingly. If he has a lot of experience, then go over the benchmark by some; if he's fresh out of seminary, drop it down a bit. The same with professional degrees, the number of staff or volunteers he will oversee, and other similar variables.
So that's the rubric I suggested to my mother. I'm sure there are others. What would you say to that question?