My dad used to always joke that if you want a raise, take a ladder to work. The reality is, that probably would be easier than trying to get a church to actually give a raise.
Our 2018 Compensation Survey data revealed that less than 1 in 5 Youth Pastor’s received any sort of merit raise in 2018. Over 30% of YP’s received a cost of living raise; which means churches essentially understand that they needed to pay their Youth Pastor more because of the rising cost of life in their area. 3% of YP’s received a “compliance” raise, meaning they are getting paid more so that their churches don’t pay them illegally (even though many YP’s are still being paid illegally). And that leaves about 45% of YP’s that received no increase in salary at all, with about 4% of all YP’s actually taking a pay cut in 2018.
Part of the discouraging numbers here must be attributed to the fact that 64% of Youth Pastors didn’t have an annual review in the past twelve months…where else can you ask for a raise? This is supported by over 80% of Youth Pastors not asking for a raise in 2018. There’s some churches that are giving out small COLA or compliance raises, but the vast majority of these raises are 3% or less. For perspective, If the average YP Salary in 2018 is $46,581 as we reported in the 2019 Youth Pastor Compensation Survey Results, then a 3% raise comes to about $116 a month increase in salary.
One of the first pieces of information a YP needs if they want a raise is actually knowing what the market for a YP with their education and experience would be worth at a similarly sized church with a similarly sized budget on the open market. Churchsalary.com has a tool that utilizes YP Comp Pro compensation data to get these results. But that’s only a first step.
One of the most impactful chess moves a YP has at their disposal in the hunt for a raise is keeping compensation in the conversation. With over 6 out 10 YP’s not receiving an annual review in 2018, we know its hard to find space to even ask if you have the courage. Jesus mentions in Revelation 3 that he stands at the door and knocks, waiting to be let in. My small group leader in high school used to always say, “you’ve got to be in the room where the door is first!” The same principle is true with raises. If you want to ask for a raise, you need to be in the meeting where that conversation is normal. The safest and most consistent meeting like this is the annual review. Some churches do it more often than others. But make sure you have one.
If you’re in a situation where you’re being undermanaged, and your boss either has no interest or never seems to have the time for your review, you may need to lead up. YP Comp Pros has a annual review template that we give away to YP’s and churches for FREE that is seven pages long, requires two meetings with your superior, and gives fill-in-the-blank type space for you to talk about compensation, benefits, responsibility load, and all sorts of other things tied to your review. In humility, perhaps bring a copy to your boss and ask if they’d be willing to “help you improve” in the coming year by asking for an annual review.
What we’ve found is that when the conversation gets put on the stove–even if its on the backburner–there’s a sense of honoring the YP in that the conversation is not off limits. This empties the YP of some bitterness that’s accumulated over time due to their compensation, and allows for a YP to basically hang in there until the church can do something about the compensation. And then, when budget time rolls around, your boss has a chance to recall “hey, Lisa the YP needs a pay bump.” If Lisa hasn’t talked to her boss about her situation, you can bet the boss isn’t just going to walk into Lisa’s office and say, “You’re crushing it. How about a 10% raise?” When pigs fly…
The Big Idea: know what you’re worth on the open market, and have the compensation conversation consistently.