How Much Money Should an SBC Entity President Make?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

(Keep in mind that this article comes from a Southern Baptist senior pastor who makes around $40,000 a year including benefits. Yet, my church gives 16% to the Cooperative Program, and an additional 2% to the local association. We believe in what the cooperative program supports, including the salaries of SBC entity Presidents.)

Over the years, I’ve heard several complain (early in my ministry, I complained as well) about how much money entity heads at SBTS, SEBTS, MBTS, NOBTSGGBTS, SWBTSNAMBIMB, SBC, and ERLC make (I didn’t include Lifeway or Guidestone because they do not receive Cooperative Program dollars). Southern Baptist State colleges could be mentioned as well. (For Cooperative Program Statistics, click here).

I, however, don’t think Southern Baptists should complain about how much money various entity heads make. The Bible provides no qualifications or financial standards for entity heads of parachurch organizations. Yet, the Bible does argue that a man is worthy of his wages (1 Tim. 5:18). All workers are worthy of their wages, including the Presidents of our entities.

Some Southern Baptists think SBC entity heads should make as much money as the average pastor in the SBC, and others think entity heads should make as much money as Presidents at comparable secular entities. Based on rumors alone (since the salaries of our entity Presidents are not public knowledge), it seems Southern Baptist trustees have decided to go the middle route. Our entity heads make more money than the average pastor, but they make less money than the average entity President in the secular world (Not in all cases, but in most cases).

To those who think entity heads should make what the average pastor in the SBC makes, I simply ask, “Are you an entity head?” What if I told you that the average Senior Pastor in the SBC should make what the average Youth Pastor in the SBC makes? What would you say? My point is that an entity head is not a senior pastor, but an entity head.

To those who think entity heads should make as much money as the average entity President in the secular world, I disagree. I believe leading a ministry is different than leading a for-profit, worldly institution. Furthermore, those who give to the Cooperative Program are not giving to primarily pay the salary of entity heads. We’re giving so that the gospel can spread to the ends of the Earth. I, however, understand that an entity head is worthy of his wages.

Thus, I think the middle-ground option is best. I don’t think our current entity-heads can be easily replaced. Quite frankly, there’s only one Paige Patterson in the SBC, and there’s only one Al Mohler in the SBC. The other entity heads may prove to be equally irreplaceable as well.

What are your thoughts?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


  1. Greg Harvey says

    I think that the job is political and comes from being well-regarded. It requires no experience per se–which is to say the Boards of Trustees could choose a ceremonial leader and fill in the rest of the organization with committed professionals. So a high salary is more of a reward for political connections than not. And it deserves very direct transparency.

    But it isn’t transparent. And I very specifically note you provide zero specifics because they aren’t public. They aren’t public because the trustees and the entity heads have spiked the numbers. I’ve heard rumors that there is a broad range and some wags suggest that some entity heads make nearly a half million. I’ve heard some peoe I respect say it could be more than that depending on how all benefits are calculated.

    I simply don’t know, but I reject the argument that either senior pastors or entity heads should be able to spike their compensation numbers.

  2. Louis says

    Since you ask, the biggest problem that we have, in my opinion, is that Southern Baptists don’t know what the entity leaders make.

    I would also not be surprised to say that many trustees of institutions don’t know what the agency leaders make. Probably small compensation committees do, and when the budget is approved by the full board, all of the compensation for all of the employees is rolled into one line item – “Salaries.”

    Maybe I could be talked out of my position. Maybe someone could make a case for keeping that information private. But I can’t think of one.

    The only reason that I come up with is that Southern Baptists are too immature to know because if they did, we would have worthless discussions about it at the Convention. And is often the case, the people with the least amount of knowledge and experience would probably be doing most of the talking.

    When you ask, “What should they make?”, the answer is, whatever the Trustees of those institutions believe is appropriate. And that decision should be subject to the sunlight of public knowledge.

    Of course the amount is somewhere in the middle, as you have suggested.

  3. Greg Harvey says

    Peope is how you spell people in fureign countries where their fingurs are too big fer their phone keyburds.

    • Christiane says

      you need another cup of coffee . . . I know the symptom and I know the cure :)

  4. Jim Shaver says

    The biggest problem I have with these positions is that they’re all preachers.

    Whatever happened to good Baptist Laymen who have already proven their business savvy in the real world?

    • Allen Davidson says

      What we need are the pastor/theologian leading our seminaries because they understand the academic fields and can lead and guard our institutions. A layman who only had business savvy would be eaten alive in an academic institution because a school is not a business, it is an institution of higher learning. It should also be noted that our institutions to have godly baptist laymen in their institutions looking over the finances and the business aspects of the institutions and agencies. But in the end you want a Patterson, Mohler, Akin, Kelly, Iorg, or Allen leading your seminaries to Biblical faithfulness in academic fields because they understand churches and the academy.

      • Scott Shaver says

        “A layman who only had business savvy would be eaten alive in an academic institution because a school is not a business … in the end you want a Patterson, Mohler, Akin, Kelly, Iorg or Allen leading your seminaries to Biblical faithfulness because they understand churches and the acadamy.”

        Respectfully, I reject outright the premise that a layman with business savvy would be eaten alive (i.e. as a college or seminary president). I have seen that hypothesis tested and disqualified several places across my years including East Texas Baptist University.

        Be careful not to throw the potential of the sheep you say you were called to feed under the bus. In the end, their money is what allows these theological wranglings and rewritings of history to occur in the institutions they support.

        When they get tired of this never-ending quest for theological supremacy by gadfly power-brokers, who feed at the trough while giving lip service to Scripture and so-called “defense of the faith”, the money to SBC seminaries will stop. Consequently, so will a lot of the discussion.

        Our SBC orthodoxy (or lack thereof) won’t be an issue at that point. Paying the bills and selling off buildings will be the issues.

  5. says

    Several years ago when some bloggers were complaining about the salaries of SBC entity leaders, it seems they were very selective.
    They mercilessly criticized the entity leaders they disliked, and gave the ones they liked a pass.

    I imagine all our entity leaders earn the salaries they make. I also imagine they are generous in their tithes and offerings.
    But as has been noted, the middle ground is probably best, and it is really up to the trustees.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Greg Harvey says

      Guess you have to be a big boy (or girl) to be an entity head and if you can’t handle the fire, stay out of the kitchen. Merciless, though, is hyperbole, David.

  6. says

    Being an Entity Head and being a Pastor are Apples and Oranges . No comparison . This question shows the mentality we are dealing with .

  7. says

    Why should the salary of an entity head .. say a Baptist University or Seminary, be paid less than a similar secular entity head who properly views his position in that entity as his calling from God, and attends to his job in accordance with God’s instructions?

  8. says

    It is my understanding that non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporations must use Form 990 to report the following information, which is available for public review:

    “The Form 990 requires disclosure of the compensation of all officers, directors, trustees, key employees and the five highest paid employees (not included in the preceding group) who received more than $100,000 in compensation from the organization and any related organizations during the year. The organization is not required to disclose the compensation of the other employees.”

    Of course, religious organizations — including churches and entities of the SBC — are exempt from this filing requirement. However, in the era of the GCR, where transparency was supposed to lead to increased trust among Southern Baptists, there is no reason why each of our entities should not voluntarily disclose the compensation of its top officers. I think that entity heads should be well-compensated, but their salaries should be made public to the churches which, through the Cooperative Program, pay said salaries.

    I know that many larger churches (which probably is what is influencing the non-disclosure) do not make public the salaries of any of the staff, including the Pastoral staff. While our church does not publish the specific salaries of non-ministerial support staff, even that information can be obtained by members coming into the office to look at “the books.” My salary and the salaries of our other pastors are made public in our yearly Budget and in our Quarterly Budget Statements. Even though some may complain about salaries, I don’t see the publication of salaries as a matter of distrust, but rather as a matter of accountability and transparency to those who financially support the ministry. If secular non-profits are held to this standard, why shouldn’t religious non-profits meet or exceed that standard? Of course, publication of entity salaries should not be mandated by the government, but it should be a matter of common sense policy that the Trustees at each of our entities institute sooner rather than later. Thanks and God bless,


  9. volfan007 says

    JUst how much are the entity heads earning? How much do yall think? I’ll bet that the figures are up in the $200,000 per year, or higher….how many Pastors make anywhere near that kind of money?

    I also wonder if the people in our pews would be okay for an entity head to make $250,000 per year?

    Do yall think the figures I’m throwing out are accurate? Higher?

    And, is that okay with you?


      • volfan007 says


        From what I’ve heard from people, who would know a lot more than I, the figures are definitely in the higher range of what you gave above, in your comment.

        Also, shouldn’t these salaries be made public? Mine is totally public, as a Pastor…my salary is on the financial statement of our church, every month. If any member wants to know what I make, all they have to do is call the church, and my secretary will tell them. So, why should entity head’s salaries be private? Is it because they dont want people to know how much they’re making?

        I’ll bet that a lot of them are making more than $250,000 per year….


        • says

          David, I agree that all salaries should be public.

          I still think a man is worthy of his wages, even if some of our entity heads are making $500,000 per year.

          • volfan007 says


            You would be okay with a man making $500,000 per year as an SBC entity head?????? Are you kidding?


          • Frank L. says

            If we have an entity in a mission organization that necessitates someone making a half million dollars to manage it, that entity is: 1) unnecessary, or 2) too big, or 3) both.

          • says


            Perhaps you meant to say that Drs. Patterson and Mohler are invaluable (i.e., the leadership and value they bring to these two entities cannot be truly estimated), but I would hope that you did not mean that they are irreplaceable. Every single one of us who are pastors or entity Presidents can be replaced. God can raise up new leaders to take the place of those leaders who others thought were simply “irreplaceable.” When we (and I’m not saying that this is what you think) begin to think that any man — even those we admire and respect — cannot be replaced, we are headed in the wrong direction. And, when the man himself begins to think that he is irreplaceable, we are headed for disaster! Thanks and God bless,


          • John Fariss says

            I quite agree with Howell. No one is “irreplaceable.” I believe it was one of the Wesley’s who wrote, “God calls His workers home, but the work goes on.”

            John Fariss

  10. Jess Alford says

    I have always thought that entity heads in the SBC should receive a salary
    of $0.00 dollars, yes, that’s what I said, $0.00 dollars. Everyone knows the
    SBC President is just a figure head.

    Entity heads should be choosen from those that volunteer for the position. If a Pastor is choosen he should be able to continue to pastor his church, and take on the position of figure head (I mean president)
    of the SBC.

    At the very least, salaries of entity heads should be made known to every SBC church. Don’t you want to know where your money goes?

    I, like many of you, am tired of all the hush, hush attitudes that many have in the SBC. It’s time to be open and honest with folks.

    • says

      Jess, the SBC President is not an entity head. Also, if our SBC entities were ran by volunteers for $0 money, they could not eat.

      Do you make $0 to pastor?

      • Jess Alford says

        Jared the SBC president may or may not be an entity head, yet I believe
        it should be on a volunteer basis. We pastors are down where the rubber meets the highway, sweating, weeping, toiling, getting dirty,
        and working ourselves to death. Pastors should be the only ones to receive a hansome salary.

        I know for a fact, many pastors are on starvation wages, they barely make ends meet. Yet any other job would be a demotion for a pastor.

        I’ve baptized folks with sores all over their bodies, with aids, other STD’s, Tb, and only the Lord knows what else. The church didn’t believe in waders, or bapsteries that a pastor couldn’t get in the water with the one being baptized. Yet I was glad to baptize these folks.

        • volfan007 says


          Entity heads should be paid….and they should be paid well….for the work they do….to suggest $0 is ridiculous. But, should they be making $200,000 per year, or better? I dont think so….


        • says

          Jess, this statement “We pastors are down where the rubber meets the highway, sweating, weeping, toiling, getting dirty, and working ourselves to death. Pastors should be the only ones to receive a handsome salary” is spoken exactly like someone who has never been an entity head.

          • Frank L. says


            Your response sounds much like someone who feels Jesus once said, “I will build my entity . . .”

            Jess is near the right sentiment in this discussion, though I might quibble with a few words. Comparing being an entity head with being a pastor–as you do–simply does not make muster according to the Word of God.

            What the “entity” discussion indicates, as someone above (I think Jack W.) stated is to show how completely off base we are from the start.

            I think our whole denominational structure needs to be rethought if we truly want to win the world, and not just “impress” the world.

            For example: “why have six seminaries?” Three would be more than enough: East, West, and Middle. In my opinion, in the future, one “online seminary” deeply rooted in partnership with local churches and pastor-mentors would be sufficient.

            But, we do love our “entities.”

          • says

            Bob, I think it does apply to all vocations. We are all called to our various vocations and should carry them out for the glory of God.

    • Dale Pugh says

      When has any SBC president who was a pastor not allowed to continue as pastor of his church? When has the SBC president been a paid position? Or are you talking about the leaders chosen to oversee the work of the various boards and agencies of the SBC?
      Your statement regarding the SBC president is a non-issue given the fact that the SBC president is not an employee of any SBC agency or entity. You’re comparing an elected officer of the SBC, who takes on the role voluntarily I might add (ask Dave what he gets paid for his service as 2nd VP), to those who are hired by the trustees of our Convention’s agencies and entities. Your argument is illogical.
      The word “compensation” is used one time in the SBC Constitution and Bylaws, that one time being in the section “Article VI. The Boards, Institutions, and Commissions – Their Constitution and Powers.” Maybe you should read the document that governs the Convention to better understand how it actually functions.
      As to the $0.00 proposal–hogwash. When an individual is hired to do a job that person should be fully compensated for his or her time and work. I don’t know what any entity head of the SBC makes. I’m sure it is multiple times what I make. Maybe there needs to be some restraint shown in the amount that those entity heads make, but that is up to the trustees whom we elect at the annual Convention.
      Has anyone ever made a motion for full disclosure of the salaries of those agency leaders who receive their compensation from Cooperative Program dollars? I don’t know if such a motion has ever been made, but I dare say that it would most likely fail if brought up.

  11. Bruce H. says


    You have brought up a very interesting subject. First, I would never compare salaries with the secular world. That does not fit in the kingdom world we live in and live for. Second, if the position paid a lot of money it would produce a more defined politic within the convention. We don’t need more politics and we certainly don’t need more politics in the body of Christ. Third, whatever the salary, if a man doesn’t have a compassion to do the work of the ministry, he isn’t fit for service. He should serve all the time, even if he has no position. Finally, whatever the salary, if he isn’t giving offerings above his tithe, he isn’t worthy of any position. I was minister of music for 7 years and didn’t receive a penny for what I did. I tithed and gave offerings which equaled about 18% of my salary. God blessed the work of my hands during that time more than any other time of my life. If a man is going to be in any ministry in the SBC he needs to be a giving man.

  12. volfan007 says

    You know, it’s just kind of hard to ask a Pastor at a Church that pays him $40,000 per year, and let’s him live in an old, worn out Parsonage that has 1970’s shag carpet thru out the house, to lead his Church to just give a little more to the CP…..when you think about entity heads earning big bucks, and living large….


    • says

      I believe we should pay our entity leaders well.

      I also believe most churches should do a better job taking care of their pastors; even if it involves sacrifice on the part of the church.

      A pastor has to support his family, pay his bills, put something in retirement like everyone else. A church should love, support well, and encourage him.
      David R. Brumbelow

      • volfan007 says

        David B,

        I agree. SBC Entity heads should be paid well. And, I’m guessing that $150,000 per year would be a whole lot more than what a majority of the Pastors make in the SBC. I mean, SBC Entity heads should be willing to sacrifice to do thier ministry, just as Pastors do. So, I really dont like the whole arguement that some use of “they should be making as much as the secular counterparts do.” Or, “they could be making a whole lot more money if they were working out in the secular world.” Well, that may be….but, they ‘re in the ministry of the Gospel…. they’re not supposed to be looked upon as CEO’s of major corporations. Dont you agree?

        David, I’m curious…I just wonder what you and some others would consider a good salary for entity heads. Apparently Jared has no problem with half a mil per year……what do you and some others think?


        • says

          David W.,

          Really you ask a question tough for me to answer. I pastor a small church and do not make a large salary compared to most. On the other hand, my church does a very good job taking care of their pastor. And God has been good.

          I do not begrudge a pastor of a large church making several times my salary. That is between them, God, and their church. And they should get a good salary.

          I do not complain about the salaries of our SBC leaders. They should be paid well. Just because a pastor may not be paid well, does not mean he should wish that on others. I know there is a point at which a leader’s salary becomes exorbitant. I don’t know exactly where that line is. We would all draw the line at different places. So we pretty well leave that up to the trustees.

          I also agree that a very well-paid executive should be very careful about reproving a poorly paid pastor about sending more through the Cooperative Program. I’m for the Cooperative Program, but some churches should consider giving a little less through the CP, and more to their pastor’s salary.

          It is interesting to me that the most effective, efficient charity work is done by one or two people. They already have a salary and they charge nothing for their charity work. But as the charity gets bigger, you have to have employees, office space, etc., etc., and the costs mount up. Just an observation; that does not mean I oppose large charities.

          But I encourage all to support, pray for, and give to the Cooperative Program, IMB, NAMB, your Baptist Association, and other missions.
          David R. Brumbelow

    • cb scott says


      Actually, he did get a good response in the end. The entity heads were very open, for the most part. The couple who did not respond? Well, Mark during that particular time and climate, could you really blame them for not being very responsive? It was a rough period. I, for one, am glad it is over. . . . I am hopeful it is over anyway.

  13. Steve Lamb says

    The international director for the mission I am with (a quite large one) makes exactly the same as his secretary. The salary figure is based upon the size of the family and the cost of living where they reside. Being in ministry is about serving God and having enough for your needs, not making sure you are financially compensated in line with the world’s expectations. I can hear the argument, “well how do we recruit the top quality candidate if we don’t provide a handsome compensation package?” I don’t think the one who is motivated by the compensation package is the ideal candidate. I think they should be motivated by the amazing opportunity to be part of God’s work by being the leader of Lifeway, Southwestern Seminary, Southern Seminary, etc. For example, there is no reason that Mohler cannot live in Louisville easily on 70 – 90,000 dollars a year. Above that is simply storing up treasures on this earth.

    • Steve Lamb says

      My “salary” is actually higher than our international director because I have a higher cost of living where I reside.

    • says

      Steve, that’s a pretty big statement friend. All of these figures are arbitrary. Where does the “cost of living” figure come from?

      Furthermore, I don’t think any of our entity leaders were “motivated by the compensation package.” Based on public knowledge (as far as I’m aware), we have no reason to assume the worst.

      • Frank L. says

        I don’t see any of them denying the “compensation package.”

        That does not require any “assumption”–just a fact.

        Steve is right — church leadership more reflects a CEO model than a missionary model.

        To suggest that a “cost of living” evaluation is completely “arbitrary” is to deny the facts to make a case. Comparative COL between San Diego and Selma are relatively easy to establish. Average home costs, and grocery costs, for example, are not hard to compare.

        I appreciate the approach of Steve’s organization and think it is a good, biblically sound model. Steve is right pointing out the fallacy of “how can we get the best man without the best package” thinking. I came up against that when I suggest that near three quarters of a million annual salary was excessive for the president of a Baptist University established and supported by struggling Baptist churches.

        I was shouted down.

        So, I don’t think Steve’s organizational approach is “arbitrary” by any means.

      • Scott Shaver says

        The size of some of these salaries, not to mention “perks” which are unlisted as a cost of “doing business” (i.e. promoting never-ending political and theological rancor within a denominational framework) gives a lot of us every reason to assume the worst. Sorry Jared.

        Because you may think not a single SBC entity leader is motivated by compensation doesn’t mean the rest of us have to check our brains in at the door.

          • Scott Shaver says

            I apologize for the offense of my farmboy vernacular Jared. Allow me to rephrase: Believe as you feel so inclined as to whether or not SBC entity execs (or even some of them) are motivated by compensation. We are not bound by any bond of Christian brotherhood to agree with that statement even should our disagreement be characterized as “thinking the worst”.

      • Steve Lamb says

        I think the cost of living figure should come from what is necessary. I don’t believe that they should be volunteers, but I think we can also confidently say that a person pretty much anywhere in the US does not “need” 150,000 plus to live. If so, I would hope that everyone working under them would be making the same. In Acts 2 they were able to determine what “need” meant. Think how much further the cooperative program could reach if it followed that model.
        As clarification, I was not implying that the motivation of the leaders was strictly financial. Nor am I assuming the worst, but I do know of one in particular who lives in a VERY large house and drives a car that I could never dream of affording. I just wonder if that is the best use of CP funds.

    • says

      Steve, I am curious about which mission entity uses the formula you describe, based on family-size and the cost of living where they live (if you don’t mind saying). One thing that came to mind as I thought about it is that in local churches this kind of criteria kind of takes care of itself (mostly, not always), but the further the entity is away from the people it becomes more of figuring it out by comparing to what someone else makes.

      • Steve Lamb says


        I would be more than happy to share that with you via email. I don’t feel free to publicize the organization lest someone think my opinions and statements reflect those of the mission.

  14. Dave Miller says

    Just a word here. The SBC elects trustees for our entities and those trustees are then the accountable body for the entity.

    That’s why it is so important to train the Trustees to understand that they are responsible to the institution and to the denomination, not to the entity head.

    An entity head gets whatever salary the trustees decide to give him. The hope is that they are both generous and responsible, but ultimately it is in their hands.

    We can opine, but the trustees are the accountable party here. We have to either trust the trustees – or replace them!

    • Louis says

      I agree. The trustees are in charge of that.

      I would not go to the mats over a salary of an entity head, unless it amounted to looting (like that town in California.)

      Having said that, however, trustees and agency heads need to be as sensitive as possible to this. If those who give get the impression that the dollars are not being spent wisely, there is an erosion of enthusiasm and support. That is detrimental to any organization such as the SBC.

  15. says

    Good comment in your reply to this thread. The Trustees make the call. That is our system.

    And when it comes to Entities, all are not the same. Seminaries and Colleges are different than IMB and NAMB. They are totally night and day in comparison to a Pastor and also to each other. No one size fits all in this discussion.

    And as for the idea of paying and entity head $0.00 – just looking at that amount is the only answer needed!

    • Dave Miller says

      The idea of paying entity heads nothing is both ludicrous and even unbiblical.

      The worker is worthy of his hire.

      How much to pay them? Well, that is a difficult issue. What it usually comes down to is whether I think he is doing a good job or not. I have no idea what Frank Page makes, but he is worth every penny. If I am not a big fan of a particular entity head, I might think he is overpaid.

      But my feelings are not the barometer. The trustees have that job.

      • Scott Shaver says

        Dave, I agree with you about the ridiculousness of entity heads being paid nothing. However to invoke the essential thrust of “the laborer is worthy of his hire” is to use a passage which speaks in its original context to those who do the work of preaching, teaching and ministry in a local church setting as opposed to the modern machinery of a religious denomination.

        I know I’m splitting hairs while in agreement with your point but I’ve always understood that passage to mean it’s okay and right to pay the preacher.

      • says

        I don’t believe anyone on this thread is arguing that these folks get paid nothing – a straw man. What is being argued is two fold: 1) the need for “transparency” in the church and church funded institutions and 2) For entity heads (and the Trustees who are supposed to be in charge) to consider that “ministry” is just that – salaries including perks are considered “excessive” when they impinge the conscience of the consensus of hearers. We don’t desire that these servants starve – we just would like that true servant/leaders emerge that have their institutions work at heart – and if they did so, then they would have no problem sharing what they make. Billy Graham for years has shared his total compensation through the BGA – as has his son Franklin. What is the struggle here in doing the same? If as some suggest that Southern Baptists in the main are “immature” to understand, that is a contemptible and elitist position to hold, IMHO.


        • Scott Shaver says

          Rob, I’ve gone back through this entire thread looking specifically for a comment suggesting entity heads “should be paid nothing.” You are right, I can’t find one. Dave, was this from an unposted comment?

          • Dale Pugh says

            Comment #27, gentlemen. It is posted and has been referred to several times in the comments.

          • Scott Shaver says

            Yep, after another reading. The comment was made. Gotta admit the idea would certainly cut down on payroll and tenure status overhead :)

      • Dave Miller says

        Rob, actually, if you will read it, one commenter did in fact make the point most emphatically that entity heads should be paid nothing.

        • Rob Ayers says

          If one did Dave I missed it. The point here is that the position of 0.00 dollars remuneration is an outlier and a position of extreme which most (save one) has rejected. Though I did miss your comment(s) on the rest of my post :-)


      • Dave Miller says

        Scott, Paul used that phrase based on an OT law to refer, as you say, to those who labor in the Word. We could debate whether entity heads are covered by that admonition (I would argue that they are).

        But I would also say that the OT principle from which that is drawn is much more widespread.

        We ought to fairly and adequately recompense those who do work for us.

        How much? That’s the sticking point.

  16. says

    Here is my take on entity pay:

    Colleges and Seminary level: equal to or just higher than the norm of others with similar enrollments and budgets.

    Non Ed entities: Should be a percentage of Budget with a cap in $250,000 to $350,000 range plus normal benefits. I would use a small business type budget for norms with some wiggle room.

    Lets face it, the extra Tylenol needed for putting up with the SBC masses deserves much consideration! Small part humor, big part reality!

    Yet again, in SBC life, the Trustees call this one as they should. I do not know why this keeps coming up? Where’s the Tylenol?

  17. says

    Whether or not our SBC entitities publicly disclose the salaries of the President and top executive officers is not a question of “trusting the Trustees.” It is a question of accountability and transparency. Stakeholders — in this case, the churches of the SBC — should be provided this basic information. Again, no one is reasonably arguing (paying zero is not a reasonable argument) that our entity heads should not be well-compensated. But, how do we arrive at what “well-compensated” means?

    I don’t think we have to reinvent the wheel. Why not take a look at what other non-profits are paying their leaders. This information can be easily retrieved from sites like For instance, you could discover that (as of 2011 reporting) the following well-known non-profits paid their top executive at these levels:

    American Cancer Society: $628,374 (.06% of total expenses)
    American Red Cross: $501,122 (.01% of total expenses)
    ASPCA: $566,064 (.38% of total expenses)
    Samaritan’s Purse: $421,198 (.12% of total expenses)

    As you can see, the salaries are high (average is over $500,000), but the percentages of total expenses are low. I think one could make a valid case for paying some of our entity Presidents upwards of $500,000 IF the compensation was a relatively low percentage of total expenses. However, I have argued before and will continue to argue that every entity should disclose the salaries of the Executive-level leadership. There are many reasons for Trustees not to disclose this information to the churches which fund these positions, but there is no good reason not to do so. Thanks and God bless,


  18. John Wylie says

    I think somewhere around $100,000/year would be fair. But $500,000/year is absolutely ridiculous, unjustifiable, and possibly ungodly.

    • Dwight McKissic says


      Would you mind explaining why $ 500, 000 is “absolutely ridiculous, unjustifiable, and possibly ungodly” in light of the fact that the figure you mentioned is a fairly common salary for college presidents including the President of Dallas Baptist University?

      It certainly is not true as it relates to me personally, but I can readily think of at least twelve pastors of primarily Baptists Churches–some Black and some White–who would have to take a fairly significant salary cut to accept the pay that you call ridiculous. I have no problem with men who can effectively lead and grow our seminaries–considering the weight of their responsibilities, including the magnitude of the budget, personnel, student enrollment, facilities, and speaking/teaching and denominational relationship liaison requirements involved–making a salary of $ 500, 000.

      Jesus said that the servant or laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul said that those who are effective in pastoral responsibilities( I believe that that would also include seminary presidents) are worthy of double honor. These verses suggest to me that the trustees should err on the side of generosity and market value. Consequently, this salary($ 500 g’s) is not ridiculous, but rather generous and reflective of the worth of the office/responsibility and hopefully the man in the office.

      What say ye?

      • John Wylie says


        With all due respect you do realize that $500,000/year is more than $41,000/month? In two months it would exceed what most faithful pastors make by a long shot. Brother it is exorbitant and unjustifiable and elevates these entity heads above the people in pew to an ungodly proportion.

        • William Thornton says

          I’m not sure about the propriety of a half-mil annually but for an organization that has thousands of paid personnel and hundreds of millions in budget, such is not wildly out of line. It is certainly not ungodly.

          Look at this as supply and demand. There are thousands, tens of thousands of Southern Baptists that can do what you and I do, pastor an average sized church. There are very few who have the expertise to lead a large organization. The latter should, therefore, be much better paid. I have no problem with that.

          • John Wylie says


            I understand and respect your opinion and argumentation, but I will have to simply disagree. I will surprise you though, I don’t think any pastor should be paid $500,000/year either.

        • says


          I think we run into a problem with numbers — what you call “absolutely ridiculous, unjustifiable, and possibly ungodly” — because many Southern Baptists, including many here on Voices, cannot seem to agree whether or not entity Presidents and other top executives should be considered “pastors” or something else. There is no question that these men lead ministries, but I don’t think a strictly apples-to-apples comparison should be made between Presidents of entities and Pastors of churches (even very large ones).

          You maybe right that a $500,000 salary is unjustifiable. However, I don’t think that we should presume that such a salary is unjustifiable. That’s why I believe that the Trustees of our entities should be transparent with the salaries that are paid top executives. Use comparables from other non-profits as a base. Then, as Bro. Dwight suggested, err on the side of generosity. I would be surprised if the Trustees at every entity could justify a $500,000 salary for the CEO, but they should at least provide, in the most transparent way possible, enough evidence to demonstrate that the salary is justified. That would at least go a long way in overcoming your presumption that a half million dollar salary is exhorbitant. And, of course, publicly disclose the salaries. If they fail to do both, then I think that Southern Baptists should continue to press our Trustees to comply with the GCR’s mandate of transparency. Thanks and God bless,


        • Dwight McKissic says


          Should the seminary presidents salary be based on other pastors salaries or on the weight, worth, and magnitude of the office? Apparently, you believe that pastors salaries should be factored in greatly. I don’t. The salary comparison should be to other college and seminary presidents, and perhaps leaders of other non profits. Howell has so ably documented above, that if other non profit presidents become the comparison, the the $500 g salary is justifiable. The seminary presidents and pastors only compare in the basic nature of their jobs, not in the weight and width of responsibility. Using your logic, NFL football coaches should make what junior high private school coaches make. Please point out to me the flaw, fallacy, the biblical lack of foundation, or leaps in logic reflected in my position.

          • John Wylie says


            I only used the average pastor salary to bring perspective to the situation. I understand that a seminary president position is not the same as a pastoral position, but I do believe that it is a Christian ministerial position. And as such should not be compared to secular entity heads. I personally believe that the entity head of Samaritan’s Purse getting that much compensation is scandalous and I will seriously reconsider ever giving to that organization. I mean does the organization exist to minister to people or to enrich the entity head? I would say the same about pastors making $500,000/year.

            With Respect,

            John Wylie

          • Dwight McKissic says


            I’ll give you the last word. The seminary presidency is a “Christian ministerial position.” To that extent we would agree. $ 500 g’s is a generous and significant income. But it falls way-way-way short of “scandalous” and “enriching the entity head.” The seminary head is simply being paid commensurate with his worth and value, based on the job he is expected to perform.

          • Scott Shaver says

            Suppose that depends on how much worth some assign to the “weight” and “magnitude” of the denominational office and to what extent they see these entities as extensions of Christ’s church.

            When salaries of a half mil per year are bantered around as being a reasonable standard of weight and proportionality, think I’ll stick with my interpretation of Paul’s rendering of the “laborer worthy of his hire”. Apply it only to those doing the ministry of word and service in the local church.

            I can justify my interpretation better than I can defend ostentatious displays of wealth by denominational entity heads.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Let me add one word John,

      The $100,000 figure is what each professor ought to be making. Beginning professors were making $45, 000 annually ’bout 2006 with PH, D’s. Beginning teachers in the DFW were making in some instances $50, 000. The SBC can & should do better than this. My heart bleeds over the underpayment of our professors. They really have to be armed with the mind of a missionary in order to not feel violated by the convention.

      • John Wylie says


        I certainly see your point there brother and your argument is compelling.

        • Louis says

          That is a great point!

          A.T. Robertson almost risked going to the poor house to publish his Greek grammar of the NT.

          Times have changed, and we can do better by full professors, especially those who publish scholarly works.

  19. Jess Alford says

    I think we have all been for the most part, brain washed into thinking
    the President of the SBC and the trustees should be paid hansomely.

    There should be an open book policy, where each person in any local
    SBC church should know how much each trustee and any one in the SBC gets paid.

    Restructuring is the answer, we need more money spent on winning
    souls. I know it can be done.

    I tell you what is ridiclous, someone making a killing off from hard working pastors and churches. I know a laborer is worthy of his hire,
    if he is out winning souls, (and no where else).

    Too much politics, and outrageous salaries will be the demise of the
    SBC. If we are doing the Lord’s work for the money, we need to get out of it. If we are doing the Lord’s work because we are called, then a laborer is worthy of his hire. (Pastors should be paid enough to pay his bills and support his family and put some into savings).

    No one in the SBC should receive more than a pastor.

    • Dale Pugh says

      Once again, Jess, the SBC president doesn’t get paid. He is reimbursed for travel expenses. To even mention an elected officer of the Convention who serves voluntarily shows that you don’t really know what you’re talking about. I don’t mean to be rude, but please stop with the SBC president stuff. You need to find another line of reasoning.
      Also, I would dare say that every SBC entity head has been, is, and will be a “soul winner” par excellence. I would challenge you to present substantive information as to your assertion that any of the SBC entity heads are “in it for the money.” I would argue that each of them is a godly individual who is following what he believes to be God’s call on his life.
      “No one in the SBC should receive more than a pastor.” Which pastor? You? Me? CB Scott? Dave Worley? Which one of us is the barometer for entity head salaries?

      • Jess Alford says


        Just heading off what could be and stop it before it got started concerning the SBC president.

        In answer to your other question, Dave Miller’s salary would be good enough for them.

        • Jess Alford says

          After receiving Dave Miller’s salary for a while, they would realize
          what starvation wages really are and be a little more consertive.
          (Tight with the money).

        • Dale Pugh says

          Does anyone seriously think that the SBC president would ever be given compensation and expected to resign his church simply because he is elected to preside over and represent the Convention? In addition to defeating the purpose of elected voluntary officers as specified in the SBC Bylaws, such a suggestion is simply ridiculous. You bring it up in order to “head off and stop it before it gets started” when no one has made such a suggestion or possibly has even given it a thought.

        • says

          Jess, that response about heading off what might get started (with reference to the SBC President and being paid for same) smacks of a witch hunt. We’ve got enough straw men in the SBC without your building another.

          • Dale Pugh says

            And I didn’t even mention the fact that you included trustees in your original comment, Jess. There’s enough fodder for rumor and speculative conspiracy theories without trying to make something up about SBC compensation for elected officers within the Convention.

  20. William Thornton says

    Jared, I think you are incredibly naive on the subject but I commend you for taking a shot at it because such things contribute to the continued decline of the Cooperative Program.

    It has been noted that it is somewhat difficult to have much of a discussion of the pay of SBC entity heads when no one knows what that pay is. Too much? Too little? Just right? You judge them to be “middle ground” but admit you don’t know how much they make. It’s tough to find a middle when you have no reference points.

    Lack of transparency here on the part of SBC agencies, institutions, and their trustees is harmful. The last time I asked for salary information (it’s been a few years and I haven’t made a big deal of it) I was given the highest salary *range* for the entity. That is not quite transparent, although the entity financial guy I emailed was otherwise helpful.

    Some years ago Ben Cole did send certified letters to all SBC entities asking for CEO salary information in accord with certain SBC by-laws. What he got was a mixed bag. I’m going from memory but Danny Akin was up front and open. Others were not. The matter wasn’t pursued.

    I also think you are highly naive about leaving out LifeWay and GuideStone because they are not CP supported. Both are supported by the dollars of SBC churches and individuals. (GuideStone sits on gazillions of SBC monies. I’m guessing that their CEO is the highest paid of all SBC entity heads). Would you argue that the seminaries should only be partly transparent because their budget is only partly funded by the CP?

    There is another issue here, that of supplemental compensation. One of NAMB’s earlier problems was that our paid staff there were selling their own products to NAMB and to the churches to be used in NAMB promoted programs. This was cleaned up. I am unsure if the same thing is going on elsewhere.

    When you say, “…those who give to the Cooperative Program are not giving to primarily pay the salary of entity heads. We’re giving so that the gospel can spread to the ends of the Earth” that is irrelevant and is a model plan for irresponsibility, waste, and squandering of funding. Even you would have a trigger point where you would consider witholding funding.

    You are right about the comparison of entity heads and pastors. This is the wrong comparison to make.

    Trustees have been woefully slack in proving they are accountable to the folks who pay the bills. I’d bet that if some enterprising SBCer tried to get salary info from our entities, he or she would hear doors slam often and loudly.

    • Louis says


      You are right to bring up Guidestone. Lots of people forget that agency, and I believe their salaries are high.

      If the high salaries go to stock analysts, accountants, attorneys and such, that’s one thing.

      But the head of that agency, whom I like, is not really qualified to lead a financial agency. He is the figure head. He does a good job at that.

      But I would think that the salaries of the experts at that agency might rightfully be higher than the leader.

      But we face that in much of life and other businesses.

  21. Jess Alford says

    It makes me sick when I think about hard working Christians giving to the church and scratching out a living to get by when the heads of entities are
    living high off from them. It just isn’t fair.

  22. William Thornton says

    But I will answer your question: How much?

    Answer: Depends.

    Most of our CEOs are administrators of rather large organizations and should be paid accordingly. SWBTS should expect to pay more than MBTS for their CEO. I would not object to paying comparable to secular CEOs if trustees were as open as public corporations had to be, which includes detailed executive compensation information sent to each and every shareholder every year.

    For Howell: no 990s on SBC entities. They are not required. I’d guess that Mohler, Ranier and some other CEOs have ministry organizations that do file 990s but I haven’t looked into it. (BTW, Beth Moore’s 990 shows that she had $6mil cash on hand…just thought I’d throw that in).

  23. Steve Lamb says

    I wonder what the Apostle Paul expected as far as compensation? I think what needs to happen is that we need to stop comparing ourselves to CEOs and the rest of the world, and live radically different, sacrificial lifestyles, so that the gospel can advance.

    • Dave Miller says

      Steve, it is wholly appropriate for any of the entity heads to be as generous and sacrificial with their money as they want to be. If Dr. Page wants to live in a grass hut and eat fruits and nuts he harvests from the woods around his house, that is his choice.

      But when the denomination enforces that, it is no longer sacrifice on his part – it is stinginess on ours. A good SBC entity exec is worthy of being paid, paid well.

      What he wants to do with that money is his business. If he makes lots of money, I would hope he would give sacrificially – but that is between him and his Lord.

  24. Jim G. says

    Here is a little bit of data that might be helpful.

    All SBC seminaries are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The ATS publishes data tables every year concerning its member schools. 4 SB seminaries (Southern, Southeastern, Southwestern, and New Orleans) have a FTE head count of over 1000 students. Golden Gate and Midwestern are in the 600s and 300s, respectively. (By the way, SEBTS, SBTS, NOBTS, and SWBTS rank number 2 through 5 among FTE count at ATS schools in that order.)

    In the 2012-13 school year, there were 7 ATS schools with over 1000 FTEs: the 4 SB schools plus Fuller, Gordon Conwell, and Dallas. The figures below only apply to the 7 large seminaries so we can get a good idea of the compensation of the president and chief officers of the 4 large SB seminaries. All of this info comes from the ATS website and anyone can look it up to verify. Again, these numbers apply ONLY to the “Big 7.”

    President mean salary: $215,119.00
    President median salary: $203,745.00
    President mean compensation: $252,250

    Academic dean mean salary: $136,798.00
    Academic dean mean compensation: $161,245.00

    Head librarian mean salary: $73,299.00

    Given the above data, and given that 4 of the 7 numbers used to compute the averages are SB, a good estimate for a SB seminary president at one of the larger SB seminaries is about $215K, give or take. The academic dean makes approx. $137K.

    According to a newspaper article citing the Chronicle for Higher Ed, the national median for public university presidents (salary and compensation) for the 2011-12 school year is $441,392, which is nearly double the compensation of the presidents of the largest ATS seminaries. So while we may think they make a lot of money, the seminary presidents do not make nearly as much as their peers at state-run institutions.

    Jim G.

    • says

      Jim, thanks for the info. If the numbers are close, then our entity presidents make a little less than I thought. I assumed they were somewhere in the middle between pastors and other comparable secular entity presidents. Seems that’s where they are.

    • Jim G. says

      One other thing – there are only 7 schools with 501-1000 FTEs, which includes GGBTS, and 23 in the next tier down which would include MWBTS. Both of those tiers have a mean president salary in the $180K range. Because of the larger sample size, it would be more difficult to pinpoint the salary of the GG or MW president, but it would seem that it is not much less than those of the larger 4 SB seminaries, given the data ATS provides.

      Jim G.

  25. dean says

    Jared, thank you for your intriguing article. As a trustee of one of our entities I would like to chime in with a few thoughts. I have made some commitments as a trustee about speaking publicly about seminary business. Therefore I will get no where near the business of our seminary.

    1) The salary should be whatever the trustees decide is necessary for getting the best person for the job. If the best person is a bivo pastor who can do the job on a volunteer basis then don’t pay him a penny. If $200,000 is required to find the best person pay it.

    2) You can be assured that at this moment in time 4 of the six presidents we have are giving a great return on our investement. Iorg and Allen will as their tenures progress. Dr. Iorg is as impressive as they come in my opinion. His work on the Antioch church is outstanding. My personal education experience with our seminaries is NOBTS and MBTS. A guy with a tenure like Dr. Level meant millions and millions to NOBTS. It is foolish to say he may have been overpaid at $175,000. My gracious they took out a key man life insurance policy on him for big money because when he died it would mean many donations and contacts would go away.

    3) For a person to believe that a pastor of a church running 55 in worship can compare his workload of an entity president is ridiculous. Been there done that and know what it takes. I pastored two small churches and worked 40 hour a week jobs while going to one of our Baptist colleges in my early years. The two are not in the same stratosphere. The seminary presidents have a workload few imagine.

    4) If a person clothes jealousy in spirituality over the salary of another person I can’t judge but Jesus can and will. I have never had a problem celebrating another person’s blessings. I think that God is the most efficient being in all the universe. It is remarkable how He puts just the right people where they need to be. Some people have been faithful and God has blessed them with tremendous responsibility. Others have not and resent those who have. I am convinced God’s ministers are usually right where they need to be as He practices efficiency.

    5) I laugh at the idea that our presidential positions are granted by popularity and politics. There are some positions in the convention that is true of. How else can you explain our current 2nd vice president? :) I mean were Jeff Iorg and Jason Allen on anyone’s radar? I have heard for years that Dr. Moore was going to ERLC but I also have heard for years he was more than qualified and this is from my circle of trads. We would never allow a Cal to infiltrate our circle. :) I never saw his appointment as politics.

    6) From the state level through the convention level our execs should have the pay scale for all positions throughout our conventions published. They take our money they should report that. I for one, maybe the only one, would rejoice they were compensated so well.

    • Deakon says

      my heart doesn’t default to this mentality yet: rejoicing that that who make bank are compensated so well; but man, I want it to! so here’s to praying for generosity…thanks for the encouragement/challenge…

  26. Jess Alford says

    We just don’t know how much anyone makes. It’s all confidential. I read on the Baptist Planet site that the President of the Sunday School board makes $725,000 in salary. I think this was in 1990. Maybe you can take a look see. I may be wrong about it.

    • Dale Pugh says

      Yes, you’re wrong. Here’s the quote from Baptist Planet. Read it again.

      “[The Wall Street Journal’s R. Gustav] Neibuhr said the controversy was forcing SBC agencies to cut their staffs and postpone salary increases. salaries and fringes for the top executives of three boards and seven agencies. Five earned well over $100,000. The five, according to [Southern Baptist Advocate Editor Bob] Tenery, were Lloyd Elder, President, Sunday School Board, $157,086; Harold Bennett, President-Treasurer, Executive Committee, $151,079; Larry Lewis, President, Home Mission Board, $113,583; Keith Parks, President, Foreign Mission Board, $113,000. The Annuity Board decline to report renumeration (sic) for its newly-elected president, Paul W. Powell. Tenery further noted that the top six men at the Sunday School Board, where Tenery is a trustee, were paid $715,475 in salary and benefits.”

      • Jess Alford says

        Dale Pugh,

        You will have to forgive me, certain print gives me a tough time
        because I can’t read it very well.

        Dale, I know you support big money, I just happen to not support
        it. You may be one of those fat cat folks, I’m just a poor old broken
        down preacher expressing his opinion.

        • Dale Pugh says

          No where have I said that I support big money. No where have I said that I support any of our entity heads making the average pastor’s salary. Personally, I’m bi-vocational, so I’ll let you deduce from that fact how much my church pays me annually. You don’t know where I stand because I haven’t said. That would mean you’re making an assumption.
          All I’ve done is challenge you to be truthful and rational in what you say.
          I support a person being paid for the job they do. Entity heads are probably highly paid. Others, like professors, should probably be paid more than they are. Pastors are notoriously underpaid when education and experience are taken into account.

          • Jess Alford says


            You got that right about bi-vocational pastors, food is so scarce at my house that the rooster has to lean up against the fence to crow.

            Seriously, I actually thought the president of the SBC got something, I was not trying to be untruthful, evidently I was
            according to what you say.

            You are right, I don’t know everything that goes on in the SBC.
            I have really never had time to find out. You know what a bi-vocational pastor goes through.

            All I’m saying you and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge salaries,
            when the salaries are confidential and we have no idea what they make. That is why salaries should be an open book.

            I can guarantee you this, if their secretaries make more than $1,000 per mo. that is more than some of the bi-vocational pastors make from the church they pastor. Any bi-vocational pastor knows the church he pastors is really not part time, it’s full time, and we have the added burden of working at a public job from eight to twelve hours a day.

            If any one out there makes $100,000 per year in the SBC, you
            ought to take it and shut up, and don’t be crying about a raise.
            Remember where that money comes from. It could be comming from a little widow that is on a fixed income putting her few dollars in the offering plate.

            It will be a sad day if the SBC tries to operate like big business.
            So go cry on someone elses shoulder.

  27. Jess Alford says


    Actually #110 was not directed at you personally, but to everyone on this thread. With you being a bi-vocational pastor, you have to be a pretty good fellow. I apologize for making those assumptions.