The SBC Plodder is back with his customary incisive analysis of all things SBC.
LifeWay and Baptist Press do a good job this time of the year in researching and writing about clergy salaries. BP’s story about pastor salaries not keeping pace with inflation is a good example.
According to LifeWay’s 2014 Clergy Compensation Survey, pay and pay package increases for full-time senior pastors are going up at a rate less than the rate of inflation. This means that, as a group, senior pastors are slightly losing ground in their income considering the cost of goods of services. Any senior pastor who finds a way to direct his church deacons, personnel or finance committee to the LifeWay study and/or to this Baptist Press article is doing a good thing. Church people should be informed about such things. It may or may not help, but if the pastor doesn’t take some initiative to inform key people in his church those people will likely never have the relevant facts to make good decisions.
But I was drawn to another figure given in the BP piece:
Seminary graduates receive, on average, $1,981 more in total compensation than non-seminary graduates and receive more vacation days.
Less than $2,000 for an MDiv? (I realize that the survey did not distinguish among the various seminary degrees but MDiv is the standard pastoral degree offered by all the seminaries.)
Let’s see, you leave a paying job to attend one of the seminaries where you invest somewhere around $25,000 in tuition during the three years needed to acquire an Masters of Divinity degree. During that period most students continue to work but suffer the loss of significantly more income than they would have received if they continued in their secular job not to mention expenses related to moving and traveling, etc.
At the successful completion of a seminary education the minister has a shiny new masters degree which enables him to land a larger church with higher income prospects for his pastoral career.
You bet. On average, an extra $1,981 year after year-after-year.
Do the math. It doesn’t pay brethren. He will never recover financially from where he would have been had he not sought to acquire that MDiv. But then, at least theoretically, as a better educated pastor, he is a better pastor which is a worthy goal, finances aside.
But, considering the future of the Christian ministry in America – declining church membership numbers, reduced personal giving rates, and increasing economic marginality of average-sized and smaller SBC churches – maybe it’s time to consider that a three year MDiv and the expenses thereof might be excessive.
Is a two-year MDiv program worth considering? I think so.