Financial Challenges of the Small Church Pastor

Today’s guest post comes to us from Shelia Poole for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Despite all the talk about megachurches and their wealth, new research suggests that most evangelical pastors serve in small churches and often experience significant personal financial challenges.

“The vast majority of pastors do not have their own radio or TV show, robust church staff, or megachurch attendance,” Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in a statement. “Rather they faithfully serve in small churches and face financial challenges stemming from student debt, low salaries and medical expenses.”

Most pastors serve in churches with less than 200 people in the congregation. The poll, conducted by Grey Matter Research, found that of the 4,249 pastors surveyed, including several in Georgia, 80 percent serve in churches with annual budgets under $125,000 that usually covers maintenance, programs and pastor/staff payroll. Fifty percent of pastors receive less than $50,000 per year in salary.

Other findings:
Eighty-five percent of pastors said they did not receive financial training while in seminary.
Thirty-three percent have under $10,000 in retirement funds.
Seventy-six percent of pastors know other pastors who left the ministry due to financial pressures.

Click here to read the full article.

Your partner in ministry,


P.S. – If you are in debt, I hope you’ll make the bold decision to become debt free. If you are debt free, I hope you’ll determine today to remain debt free. The future stewardship vitality of your church just might depend on the financial decisions you make.

I want to help you to learn how to eliminate debt and prioritize your personal finances, so I’d like to give you a copy of my resource Debt-Free Pastor.

Just send an email to with the subject line “Debt Free Pastor” and I’ll get you a free copy.



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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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