Minister Compensation Resources

From negotiating the terms of a call to proper administration of benefits, getting clergy compensation right will lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship between a pastor and church. The following tools will be helpful for both clergy and churches.

BCO minimum requirements

According to the RCA’s Book of Church Order, a call to a minister of Word and sacrament must include the following provisions, in addition to the base salary and housing allowance:

Learn more about a church’s commitments to its ministers

Medical insurance:

BOBS annually sets the minimum standards for insurance coverage that employers must meet or exceed. Health-share plans don’t meet the BCO requirements. If a minister’s spouse carries the insurance, the church should cover the cost of the insurance premiums.

Long- term disability and group life insurance:

Both ordained and commissioned pastors actively serving at least 17.5 hours per week are provided with employer-paid group life and long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits. Read more about life and LTD insurance in the RCA.

Retirement account contributions:

For full-time ministers, employers must contribute at least the amount of the Effective Buying Power per Household (EBPH) or 11 percent of compensation, whichever is greater. For part-time ministers, the EBPH amount does not apply; the annual contribution is calculated as 11 percent of the salary. Find the most current EBPH amount in the 2020 Annual Retirement and Insurance Benefits Information guide. Use this calculator to determine your church’s contribution.

Professional development:

The BCO requires a minimum of one week per year, plus a stipend of at least 1/52 cash salary for the study program.

Clergy compensation package checklist

When a minister accepts a call from a church, the logistics and details can be overwhelming. This time is critical to get the details right, so that the relationship between pastor and church is set up for success. We’ve created a simple checklist to begin thinking about a compensation package when negotiating the terms of a call.

View the checklist

Sabbaticals

Although it might seem premature to start planning for a sabbatical before you’re hired, the provision for a sabbatical is part of a minister’s compensation.

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a time to focus in-depth on things that are important to a person’s work and life with the church. Sabbaticals for pastors are highly recommended in order to renew the calling and creativity of our spiritual leaders. Such sabbaticals should include intentional times for reflection, rekindling the spirit, and deepening spiritual life and family relationships.

Why should churches give their pastor a sabbatical?

A congregation should arrange for a pastor’s sabbatical because it’s biblical, and because both the pastor and the church need it. The sabbatical year practiced by the Hebrew people was the final year in a cycle of seven years (Leviticus 25:3-4). It was also a time when the Hebrew people had the opportunity to renew their trust in God as the provider of all of their needs, even during the time when they did not labor.

After a pastor has served a congregation for five years or more, they have a tendency to take God and one another for granted, often falling into frustrating patterns rather than finding a faithful and creative future. A sabbatical for the pastor can provide time to focus on reading, writing, preaching, and prayer, and forces members to exercise their ministries for the good of one another and the gospel.

How do you start planning for a sabbatical?

Sabbatical planning should include the church as well as the pastor. Some churches have found that forming a sabbatical committee is a good way to work together. Here are some suggested guidelines for fruitful sabbaticals:

  • Each installed pastor should be encouraged to negotiate an appropriate sabbatical leave with the consistory every five years.
  • The length of the sabbatical leave may vary. A length of two to four months ought to be given serious consideration.
  • During a sabbatical, salary and benefits should continue to be paid as during normal service.
  • Unusual expenses incurred during a sabbatical leave (cost of tuition, travel, etc.) are the responsibility of the minister, who may choose to use funds set aside for continuing education if the consistory agrees that this is appropriate.
  • Provision for sabbatical leaves should be included in the consistory’s call to the minister. Appropriate provision in the annual budget should be made to ensure that when a plan for a sabbatical is agreed upon, the funds for adjunct pastoral assistance (as needed) are available.

Resources for planning a sabbatical

Is it time for you to start thinking about a sabbatical? The following resources will provide additional information to help you develop a sabbatical plan and possibly ways to fund that plan.

An RCA Guide to Sabbaticals

Journeying Toward Renewal: A Spiritual Companion for Pastoral Sabbaticals, Melissa Bane Sevier, The Alban Institute, 2002.

The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, Eugene H. Peterson, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Louisville Institute’s Study Grants for Pastoral Leaders Program 

Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Clergy Renewal Program

Have a question?

We are here to help!

Board of Benefits Services
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1606
New York, NY 10115
retirement@rca.org
866-221-5480