is the responsibility of the employer to be in compliance with the law and IRS regulations. We offer practical advice that protects churches and pastors from incurring unnecessary financial and tax burdens.

Do NOT practice a “lump sum” pay package approach to staff compensation. Unfortunately, many churches in North Carolina identify the bottom line dollar for a staff position and then ask the employee to determine how they would like to receive that compensation. This practice is a “curse” to the employee and may result in bad consequences for the church as the employer. Even though this approach sounds good - allowing the employee to choose how he/she wishes to receive income - it is the most irresponsible practice a church can use in determining staff compensation. No other employer in the work force today gives the employee this discretion in identifying pay, and neither should a responsible church. Note the following dangers:

  • A lump sum is misleading to the staff person and the congregation
  • Staff may choose cash over insurance protection and retirement participation
  • Staff may pay unnecessary taxes
  • Church may incur financial burden
  • Depending on how it is structured and administered it may not meet the IRS tax code

Instead, use the following five-step approach to planning financial support for staff:

  1. Determine the financial support needs of staff
  2. Establish written financial support policies
  3. Provide for ministry-related expenses through an accountable reimbursement plan
  4. Provide employee benefits: medical/life/disability insurance, retirement and social security offset
  5. Determine personal income, including housing allowance designation

Compensation Planning Guide - designed to assist lay leaders as they discuss and recommend an equitable salary and benefits plan for church staff

2018 SBC Church Compensation Study - tool used by churches to determine equitable compensation/benefits for church staff in comparison to other churches of similar size

Financial Checklist for Ministers
- overview of items that should be considered when constructing a staff compensation plan

Ministers Housing Allowance
- churches are able to designate a portion of the minister’s salary as a housing allowance per specific IRS guidelines

More Information

Davis Blount  /  /  (800) 395-5102 ext. 5604
Mary Landis  /  (800) 395-5102 ext. 5637