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Can We Talk About Your Pastor?

By Ken Sloane

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I’m writing this article in mid-October, which is Pastor Appreciation Month. While you are probably reading this article in November, I hope you’ve had the opportunity to express appreciation to your pastor. If not, November is also an excellent time.

There is one more important way you can express appreciation to your pastor: make sure your pastor receives an appropriate raise in 2023.

Let me say here that I am well aware of the struggles many churches are facing right now, coming through the enormous challenges of the COVID pandemic and then the challenges of the current and evolving economy. Please believe me when I say that I write this to remind you that your pastor (and family) are feeling these same challenges.

There is one more important way you can express appreciation to your pastor: make sure your pastor receives an appropriate raise in 2023.

I recently wrote an article titled “For What It’s Worth: Inflation-Adjusted Dollars and Your Church” to help church finance and stewardship leaders understand the diminishing capacity of church dollars to fund the mission and ministry that the same number of dollars did last year, or two or three years ago. In that article, I briefly mentioned pastoral and church staff salaries.

In recent weeks, I was privileged to hear the testimony of a United Methodist pastor who is now a prominent leader in the United Methodist Church. Early in her ministry, she served a church that went several years without increasing her salary. Like many new pastors serving smaller congregations, she was not assertive in asking for increases. She said, “I told myself God would take care of it.” However, during these years, she amassed sizable debt on top of the student loans she already had accumulated from attending a United Methodist seminary. As she finally moved on to other appointments, her salary increased but not so much that she was able to get out from under the debt. Even as she was asked to serve as a district superintendent, she was still working to get rid of that burden.

The rate of inflation in 2022 is already over 8%. If the salary you are paying your pastor (and other church staff) this year is the same as in 2021, realize that those dollars have decreased in buying power. The Social Security Administration has announced that Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% cost-of-living increase in their checks in 2023. This will be good news for many of the people in our pews. It would be wonderful if our churches could pass that blessing on to the pastors as well.

If your church’s charge conference already approved your clergy compensation for 2023 and you haven’t given an increase, you can still adjust it. Your district superintendent can authorize a special charge conference to be held at a convenient time – at a church council meeting or even right after the Sunday worship service. It would be a wonderful way to show your pastor your love and appreciation!

Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

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