I'm sure feeling the pinch of a budget based on last year's fuel costs, so I winced in sympathy when I saw this week's question, and more so when I saw the matriarchs noting that we still have that glass ceiling and unbalanced scale to contend with:
Every year, my salary is reviewed by the Pastoral Relations Committee with me. The upshot is they leave that discussion with an idea for a recommendation for a raise, or not. I am not at all comfortable with these discussions: I never know how to approach the discussion of my salary and any potential raises. So, do you have any advice?
From Jan, notes about knowing what you're worth:
Salary negotiations are always awkward, but be glad that they address it. I once went over 4 years without even a cost of living adjustment and I was too afraid to speak up.
It's tempting for those of us in small/smallish churches to forgo any increase, even a cost-of-living adjustment, because it seems to mean that Vacation Bible School will not get new craft materials or something if we gain a raise. If we love our churches, we want to make sacrifices for them and not "cost them" enough to negatively impact the ministries of the church.
However—you are one of (if not THE) best asset and tool of ministry. If they value your contribution, they should pay you for that contribution. It negates your ministry and frankly it adversely affects their ability to serve the community if everyone has the attitude that "giving the pastor a raise means giving the education budget no raise." Wrong.
Church consultants say that a congregation should first budget for program: (personnel, outreach, mission, education, etc.) and the last thing to be budgeted should be the utilities, insurance, etc. Believe me, if the heat isn't working someone will come forward to help pay for heat. They won't come forward to pay for new books for the small groups.
You are called to equip others in your congregation to do ministry. You are the minister to ministers, if you will, and that role is so valuable. They should pay you accordingly.
Karen emphasizes "knowing your field":
I think it is helpful to come to these discussions fortified with the knowledge of what salary and benefits are for pastors in positions/churches similar to yours. In my denomination, this info is public knowledge: each year the Presbytery distributes a list of what each church within its borders pays its pastor(s). What are pastors with similar years of experience serving in similarly sized congregations being paid? If what you are being offered is way below average, you can make your case for a raise based partly on sharing this information. If, on the other hand, what you are being offered is average or above average, you may want to hold your fire.
Also FWIW, the Executive Presbyter for my region commented to me the other day that she finds that RevGals are much more hesitant than their male colleagues to be assertive and clear about their expectations in salary/benefit/contract negotiations.
Ann echoes this, but also says to look at the whole package:
Does your judicatory have any guidelines: What are other clergy being paid with similar jobs? Often there are set minimums at least in a diocese or synod or whatever yours is called. It is helpful when an outside group gives some guidance. What are people in your community with similar responsibilities and education being paid? Does your package include housing, mileage, pension, health insurance, etc? "The laborer is worthy of her hire" (it is in the Bible!!) so don't feel you are doing something wrong.
There is a feeling out there that we work for God so should be satisfied with a chicken once a week or some other pittance. The reality is that you have to live as well as work for them and God. An underpaid clergyperson is soon a bitter clergyperson. Women clergy are still paid at a much lower rate than men for the same position. Don't sell yourself out. And don't feel guilty about stating what you are
worth. It is harder for us to talk about money than it is to talk about sex.
....SO, what about the rest of you? This is tricky for laypeople, too! Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences with us in the comments.
Now--believe it or not, Lent is right around the corner. Send your Lent related questions (or any questions about your ministry) to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!