The Average Salary of a Pastor in a Large Church

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Senior pastor salaries in large churches often top $100,000 annually.
Senior pastor salaries in large churches often top $100,000 annually. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Protestant churches in the United States attract about 56 million people each weekend, and about 13 million of those attending go to churches with attendance of 1,000 or more, according to the 2010 Leadership Network Research Study. About 4 million of the 56 million attend churches with attendance of 2,000 or more. Churches with attendance of 1,000 or more constitute only about 2 percent of the United States’ approximately 300,000 Protestant churches. Salaries for pastors across all large churches vary significantly, according to the study. The survey received salary information from 253 churches with attendance that ranged from 1,000 to 14,999 and an average budget of about $5.7 million.

Attendance of 10,000 to 14,999

Churches with attendance between 10,000 and 14,999 people paid their senior pastors' salaries a mid-point salary of $160,000 per year and an average annual salary of $173,000. The mid-point salary of an executive pastor in a church of this size was $115,000, and the average was $120,000 per year. The survey did not provide salary information for associate pastors.

Attendance of 6,000 to 9,999

The low-point salary of senior pastors in churches with attendance of between 6,000 and 9,999 was $120,000 per year. The mid-point salary was $186,000, and the average salary was $193,000. The high-point salary was $294,000. Executive pastors earned a low-point salary of $84,000 per year and a mid-point salary of $111,000 annually. The average was $113,000, and the high-point salary was $165,000.

Attendance of 4,000 to 5,999

The salary of a senior pastor in a church with attendance between 4,000 and 5,999 had a low point of $96,000 per year and a mid-point salary of $155,000 annually. The average salary was $158,000, and the high-point salary was $332,000 per year. The salary of an associate minister in a church of this size ranged from $45,000 to $119,000 per year, with a mid-point of $76,000 and an average of $82,000. The average salary of the executive pastor was $105,000, and the mid-point was $100,000 per year. The lowest salary was $65,000, and the highest was $150,000.

Attendance of 3,000 to 3,999

The salary of a senior pastor in a church with attendance between 3,000 and 3,999 was from $40,000 to $260,000 per year. The mid-point was $130,000, and the average was $135,000 per year. Associate ministers earned between $39,000 and $135,000, and the mid-point salary was $81,000 per year. The average was $79,000 annually. Executive pastors earned between $53,000 and $130,000. The mid-point salary was $98,000, and the average was $92,000.

Attendance of 2,000 to 2,999

Senior pastors in churches with attendance between 2,000 and 2,999 earned an average salary of $134,000 and a mid-point salary of $121,000. The lowest salary was $55,000, and the highest salary was $400,000 per year. Associate pastors earned between $50,000 and $130,000, with a mid-point salary of $75,000 and an average of $77,000. The lowest salary of executive pastors was $40,000, and the highest salary was $230,000 per year. The average salary of executive pastors in churches of this size was $91,000, and the average was $82,000 per year.

Attendance of 1,000 to 1,999

The average salary of senior pastors in churches of between 1,000 and 1,999 was $110,000, and the mid-point salary was $103,000. The lowest salary was $50,000. Associate pastors earned between $40,000 and $128,000, with a mid-point salary of $70,000 and an average of $73,000. The salary range of executive pastors was between $46,000 and $130,000, and the average salary was $80,000. The mid-point salary was $79,000 per year.

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