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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. Here’s a simple checklist to begin thinking about a compensation package when negotiating the terms of a call.

Base salary

  • Is the base salary equal to or above the minimum salary guidelines for the classis?
  • Considering my debts, out-of-pocket medical expenses, savings goals, and projected daily expenses, will this salary cause my income to be greater than my expenses?
  • Is this level of compensation in line with my experience and credentials?

Housing allowance 

For ministers who purchase or rent a home:

  • Is the housing allowance sufficient to cover a mortgage or rent payment in the neighborhood in which the church is located, or the neighborhood in which members of the church live?
  • Do I currently have enough saved for a down payment, or will I need to rent? How will that impact my ability to minister in this context?
  • If I plan to purchase a home, will the church provide a down payment loan to help me buy the house? Are the terms of the loan acceptable? 

For ministers who live in church-provided housing:

  • Is the housing allowance sufficient to cover my additional housing-related expenses (maintenance, renovations, furniture, insurance, etc.)?


For ministers who live in church-provided housing:

  • Is the condition and location of the parsonage adequate for the needs of me and my family?
  • What improvements or updates need to be made before I move in?
  • Is there a budget or parsonage maintenance? Can I utilize it on my own, or will expenditures need to go through committee?
  • Knowing that living in a parsonage has long-term financial disadvantages, how will I build equity for housing in retirement? Is the church willing to offer an additional equity-building benefit to compensate for this loss?

SECA tax contribution

  • Is the church willing to pay half of my self-employment taxes (7.65 percent of my base salary plus housing)? 
  • Is the number calculated correctly? 
    • Ministers who own their home: Base salary plus housing allowance
    • Ministers who live in a parsonage: Base salary, plus fair rental value of parsonage
  • Knowing that this contribution is taxable, is the church willing to pay a higher amount than 7.65 percent to adjust for the tax burden?

Health insurance

  • Will my insurance be through the Reformed Benefits Association (RBA), my spouse’s employer (if married), or another insurance source?
  • If the plan is not through RBA, does the insurance meet the minimum health insurance standards?
  • Will the church be offering a premium plan or a high deductible plan? Will this plan’s care, coverage, and service meet my needs (and those of my family, if applicable)?
  • If the plan is an HSA-eligible high deductible plan, is the church willing to fund some or all of the HSA?

Retirement contributions

  • If the position is full time, has the church agreed to make a retirement contribution of 11 percent of my annual salary (base plus housing allowance) or the EBPH contribution (Effective Buying Power per Household), whichever is greater?
  • If the position is part time, has the church agreed to make a retirement contribution of 11 percent of my annual salary (base plus housing allowance)? (The EBPH does not apply to part-time ministers.) 

Other benefits

  • What is the budgeted amount for professional development?
    • Is it at least 1/52 of my salary?
    • Is it sufficient to fund the books, conferences, and continuing education I plan on pursuing?
  • Pastors take congregants out to lunch or coffee, host small groups at their home, use their cars for visitation, and their mobile phones for work. Is there a line item for professional expenses? Is there an accountable expense reimbursement plan?
  • What is the starting vacation time allotted? Is there a provision to accrue or earn more with continued service?
  • Is there a provision for a sabbatical?
  • Will the church cover moving expenses? Up to how much?
  • Is there a budgeted provision for counseling or spiritual direction?
Have a question?

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Board of Benefits Services
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1606
New York, NY 10115