Youth Ministry wages

I quite often get calls from Churches asking the question,
“How much should we pay a Youth Minister?”
Mostly this is a genuine question but one or two churches mean, What’s the minimum we could pay and still get someone? Hence, across the Churches there is a massive range of salaries/stipends.
wanna b a yoof leeda2.jpg Being a Youth Minister for a Church is a tough call. The contracts can be short, worse still, things can suddenly come to an abrupt end. A new role normally means re-locating PLUS there is no real promotion prospects PLUS Churches think all Youth Ministers should be young! For these reasons a Church really needs to be providing accomodation and a fair wage (the accomodation is essential as Youth Ministers can’t usually afford to move to the employing Parish, the fair wage being, I hope, a christian approach). A lot of Churches do provide an attractive renumeration.
I would nearly always recognise a Youth ministers complaints about lack of line management, moans about short-termism and gripes about projects ending too soon, however I’ve been surprised recently to hear a couple of youth ministers (from well paying churches) complain about their earnings.
Now lots of youth ministers have every right/need to be concerned about lack of pay but where the package is Accomodation plus Stipend, it’s worth noting that it’s a fair wage if you do the maths, and here I’m playing a heavens-advocate* a bit. (*Devil’s-advocate didn’t seem quite the right expression)
Lets say the house provided would otherwise cost £750 a month to rent, that’s £9000 a year. Add on to that £1000 Council Tax and £300 Water Rates and that’s £10,300 a year. If you are required to live in the house for the “better performance of duty” and you are employed as a minister, then this £10,300 is untaxed. Not only that but you’d have to earn £13,200 (in the real world) to leave you with that £10,300 after the Tax had been taken off. On top of this, a Stipend of around £16,000 is not unusual for these type of appointments. So in order to have the equivelant house/income in a secular role you’d (adding thse two figures together) need to be earning £29,200 (more in fact because the NI contributions would be much higher).
I’ve no wish to be shouted at by the youth worker/ministers who earn a lot less than this and I know there are FAR TOO MANY who do, I did however want to point out that for the good roles it is a fair renumeration.
I also think this figure is entirely justified because of the ad-hoc and often short term realities of working for a church, especially as Youth Ministers have none of the perks and support that clergy have. Further to this, although the package can be good it doesn’t give ANY long term options i.e No job = no house.

10 Replies to “Youth Ministry wages”

  1. Ian, a point well made. If you are married and have dependants you need to be earning this to survive.
    Also, as my father used to say “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys!”
    Plus how many youthworkers / ministers work cosiderably more than the 37.5 hrs a week that most people are contracted to work, myself included.

  2. Great post mate and my advice for those youth workers who don’t get paid what they deserve; elaborate expense claims, “boss I had to get this book in hardback and it was only available in a small spanish bookshop”

  3. I think the church has a very clear model of what is a fair (though, compared to the commercial market with all those extra perks, certainly modest) and that is the stipend scale for clergy. What fascinates me is that churches don’t assume that a youth minister whould be paid on that scale.
    Is presiding over the Eucharist, weddings, funerals, baptisms etc SO risky a business that people think those in other minsitry shouldn’t be paid as much?
    I have no gripes about my role or pay scale as it is fair. I do worry about moving roles though as we all must do at some point, as the deal is so fair that I’m not sure I’d get it elsewhere. However my worry is also that I might not get such a pleasant working environment with such lovely colleagues somewhere new too and that comes without price. Or does it? Do the better paying churches generally mean a “better” job in term sof job satisfaction?

  4. Excellent point from Sarah (I think I said something similar on that pay survey thing that came round a year or so back). Church Youth Workers have pretty similar expectations placed on them as do the clergy and are working in the same environment.
    Two of my gripes about the JNC scale being used are that:
    a. The working conditions are entirely different.
    b. It gives churches the excuse to say ‘well council youth workers don’t have houses provided for them’.
    On the other hand, if I was being paid £29,300 (or equivalent) my job would probably have ended a year earlier than it did and I would now be homeless. 🙂

  5. Great points, and I have noticed this trend of complaint sadly on the increase in the last 8 to 10 years in conversations I have had with various people.
    I believe as well as being fair, that when we think of salaries /stipends /whatever we wish to call them, we need to acknowledge and remember more that we are called to a position of privilege by God himself.
    This means, for me, I don’t expect a ‘fair wage’ if ‘fair’ means that my income is compared with the secular world, (in fact took a 50% pay cut when I left teaching for my first f/t youth pastor job some 15 years ago).
    I want fair in a ministry sense – enough to live and cover expenses with a bit left over for fun!
    Fair in that is it comparable to my colleagues. Fair in that finance does not need to be a concern and so inteferes with work.
    It’s a privilege to work in Christian youth ministry – but maybe our ministry requires a sacrifice sometimes too.

  6. Rob,
    Thanks for the useful addition to the debate. It’s not an easy conversation to have when there is such a range of approaches by Churches. I believe that ministry needs to be about sacrifice, I do also recognise that working for a church is already a sacrifice as the ‘job’ has so many uncertainties.
    I also believe that when as Youth Ministers we have relatively affluent livestyles we have very little in the way of thr counter-cultural and radical to model in terms of our walk with Christ.

  7. Ian
    I agree and sympathise.
    I have struggled with this on a personal basis.
    The question is how do and can we live in that counter cultural way you speak of – and for me personally is it fair for me to bring my children in on that as well?

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