How Often Should Church Staff Receive Pay Increases?

How Often Should Church Staff Receive Pay Increases?

People work for churches because they feel a calling on their life. Many of these people work with limited resources and rely on volunteer (free) labor to get the job done. 

Church staff will rise to this challenge because of their passion for the church mission. This selfless body of believers deserves to be paid fairly. Church employee pay should be organized within paygrades and based on job responsibility, experience, and how well they achieve annual goals. This employee assessment should be done regularly to ensure that employees are doing what the church expects and that this valuable ministry partner is rewarded for their contributions. 

Employees who get the job done should be rewarded with pay increases. 

So How Often Should We Give Church Employees Pay Increases? 

Many organizations award pay increases every year, however, some organizations determine raise eligibility based on how well the organization did the year before. The frequency of giving raises to employees is not as important as the consistency and communication of the church pay policy. A church personnel committee is a governing body that oversees the process and makes recommendations for the frequency of pay increases. This personnel think tank will recommend the timing and process for raise distribution – whether raises are awarded every year, every other year, or randomly. 

4 Keys To A Successful Raise Process 


Budget For Raises 

It is difficult to increase employee pay without having the resources to do so. This is why budgeting for pay increases is so important. Hopefully, you have created a church budget for 2021. A church budget should include projecting revenues and allocating resources for the year. If projected revenues increase, raise dollars will be included in the budget to ensure there are resources available to increase employee pay. 

Create An Objective System To Determine Raise Amounts 

Systems help to ensure objectivity in a process. Create a system to assess, rate, and score employees so that raise distribution can be done without emotion or bias. Church leaders strive to lead with compassion. However, this compassion can sometimes result in avoidance of employee issues. 

For instance, let’s say you have an employee who happens to belong to a family who has been lifelong church members. A manager may overlook employee shortcomings to avoid unnecessary church conflict. Failure to address employee issues simply delays the necessary confrontation of unsatisfactory employee performance. 

Objective systems also remove any potential for bias in the process. For instance, let’s say you need to complete a performance evaluation on the worship leader’s spouse. And let’s say this employee has a history of being late for work, missing deadlines, and demonstrates a poor work ethic. If you would give this person a positive rating on their performance evaluation, you would be subtly condoning their behavior. These unintentional rater biases can cause managers to error in their judgment of employee evaluations. 

Create systems that are objective, fair, and consistent throughout the organization.

Create A Process And Schedule For Pay Increases 

Establish a process to give pay increases. This process will collect performance data, define the schedule of raises, and communicate pay increases. 

Let’s face it, everyone is busy and in the church there are many unscheduled events (member care) that can interrupt how work is done. Create a schedule for performance evaluations and pay increases to help to keep you on track and so that employees understand the process. 

For instance, let’s say your church gives annual pay increases to employees. A schedule should be created to show when managers evaluate employees, when raises are determined, and when managers share information with staff. So, in other words, if you want to award raises in August, your schedule of events will need to start months before that.

Communication Is Key

You don’t have to look any further than the daily news feed to realize the importance of communication and its effect on all of us. 

Determine ahead of time to do a good job of communicating pay information with employees. Think through the questions an employee may have and communicate answers to those questions BEFORE an employee has a chance to ask. 

For instance, when anticipating a pay increase, the first thing employees typically think (to themselves) is how much more will I be paid? Be proactive and communicate what the church has budgeted for pay increases so that you set the expectation. 

For instance, if your church budgeted 2 percent for salary increases in 2021, be upfront with that information so employees don’t inadvertently expect 3 or 4 percent – and are disappointed with anything less. 

If you use a performance award model that awards more of an increase to your better performers, make sure you communicate that also. Don’t forget to communicate clearly to an employee who may have missed the mark and will not receive the average pay increase. Underperforming employees should understand clearly how they missed the mark, what they need to do to improve their performance, and why they received less of a raise than other employees. 

Stay Focused On The Why

With all that we do every day, we need to remember this crucial ministry partner.  

Church employees make church happen with limited resources. Very often, they suffer in silence and don’t disclose their personal needs. Churches give pay increases to bless staff, thank them for their had work, and to reinforce positive behaviors. Take the time to create a process to award raises in your church so that your employees recognize that you appreciate all that they do. 

Original content by © This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.