Starting Salaries for Southern Baptist Pastors

Southern Baptist pastors tend to make more, on average, than other denominational pastors.
Southern Baptist pastors tend to make more, on average, than other denominational pastors. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

In the period from 2008 to 2010, the average salary of Southern Baptists pastors kept up with the rise in inflation, according to an August 2010 article published by the Baptist Press. The average salary for a full-time Southern Baptist pastor was significantly higher than the average salary earned by other clergy nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of clergymen nationwide was $48,290, as of May 2010.

Bivocational Salaries

The 2010 Southern Baptist Convention "Church Compensation Study" provides the most viable information regarding Southern Baptist Pastor salaries. The study, conducted on behalf of the convention by LifeWay Research and GuideStone Financial Resources, is a common reference by many . Drew Nichter of the "Western Recorder" notes that salaries of Southern Baptist pastors divide into two categories: salaries made by bivocational pastors and those made by full-time pastors. It is common in many small Southern Baptist churches for ministers to get their feet wet by working as part-time pastors while working elsewhere part- or full-time. The salaries of these bivocational pastors indicates what many Southern Baptist ministers can expect to make starting out. According to the study, the average total pay package for bivocational ministers was $20,667 per year.

Full-Time Salaries

Although most Southern Baptist pastors do not necessarily start out as full-time vocational pastors, some do. Therefore, it is necessary to note the average salary of these full-time pastors. According to the research conducted by LifeWay Research and GuideStone Financial Resources, the average full-time pastor in a Southern Baptist church could expect to make an average salary of $55,829 per year. When total benefits and other forms of compensation factor in, the total average compensation is approximately $66,275 per year.


Location often plays a role in the amount made by the average Southern Baptist pastor. Nichter's article primarily focused on Southern Baptist pastors in Kentucky; he notes that pastors in Kentucky made less in average salary than the average salary made by senior pastors throughout the Southern Baptist Convention nationwide in 2010. Nichter also notes that lowest paying state in which to work as a Southern Baptist pastor was Montana, where the average salary was just $36,066 per year. Pastors in the state of Texas can expect to make the most.


Placing the starting and average salaries of Southern Baptist pastors within the pay scale of other ministers nationwide provides some additional context for seeing where these Baptist ministers fit within the picture. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for clergymen nationwide was $43,970, with the middle 50 percent earning between $31,780 and $58,360, as of May 2010. This means that full-time Southern Baptist pastors can expect to make salaries in the upper 25 percent of all ministers nationwide, when total compensation factors into the equation. However, excluding benefits packages, these pastors are among the upper 50 percent nationwide.

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