I was recently introduced to an article about the salaries of various mega-church pastors. There was really nothing surprising. Big name preachers make big bucks. There were some startling revelations as well.
The article didn’t take sides or even editorialize. It simply presented some facts (and I’m assuming for the sake of this blog, the facts were correct). The name of the article was Mega-Church Mega-Business. It listed some interesting statistics and a few quotes. Check it out. It’s even easier reading than this blog.
One of the sections that really jumped out at me concerned Rick Warren (pastor at Saddleback Church in California). According to the article, “He made millions off his books, but in 2005, he returned 25 years worth of salary and stopped accepting new paychecks. He gives 91% of his royalties to charity, drives a 12-year-old Ford and lives in the same house he did 22 years ago.”
There was one other line included in the Warren section of the article. He is quoted as saying, “The opulent lifestyles of televangelists make me sick.” A lot of people would agree with him on that one. I have to say, however, that really fits into the category of “low hanging fruit.”
I don’t care how much money they make.
Frankly, I don’t really care how much money any of these guys (they’re all men as far as I can tell) takes in. I’ll leave that up to the IRS (although I’m not real enamored with that outfit either).
The article defines a mega-church as one which averages at least 2000 people in attendance each week (our congregation only has 1985 to go, but we’re working on it). The top ten MC’s (mega-churches) in the US average 27,250 people per week per church. Their average annual budget is $41.1 million. Not too shabby. Maybe these guys actually earn their dough.
Money aside, however, there are a few related statistics that are far more important to me than the salaries of these all-star pastors. Check these out:
- There are currently 807 MC’s in the US.
- They account for 10.7% of all Protestant weekly attendance.
- The number of MC’s is growing at a rate of 8% per year.
- Other churches are shutting down at a rate of 1% per year.
- Six percent of all MC congregants had never attended anywhere before.
A high percentage of MC attendees merely move their loyalties from a small church to an MC (which would help to account for the 1% of others that are closing down). That is tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs.
But the fact that six percent of all MC attendees had never gone anywhere else before is pretty impressive. Most of us would love to have an increase like that every year. We don’t, however. We’re heading the other direction.
One final note… The average MC senior pastor makes $147,000. The average protestant pastor makes $40,000. I guess I’ve spent the past 35 years driving down the numbers. Who knew?