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A Sub Report on The Gender Wage Gap Among Youth Pastors

The 2018 Youth Pastor Compensation survey had 297 full-time female Youth Pastors who participated in our 2018 data collecting, making up about 14% of the respondent workforce.  We had another 219 part-time women participate, adding another 10% to our workforce.  Our data is skewed heavily towards men, as there were 383 part-time male Youth Pastors and over 1,100 full-time; meaning about 76% of male YP’s are full-time while only 58% of female YP’s are full-time.  So, right away, we can easily point out that our data suggests there are three times as many male Youth Pastors as their are female, and nearly 20% more of them are full-time.

Wage & The Comparisons Determined By Education

In our full report, we recognized a wage gap of 12.8%, favoring males.  While over all full-time female YP’s earned an average of $42,060 in 2018, full-time women who began in ministry for the first time in the past twelve months started at an average salary of about $39,000. The three women in our survey who were hired full-time this year who possess their Masters earned $51,000 as a starting wage average.  

In general, full-time women with a Masters (108 respondents) earned $47,767 while their male counterparts earned nearly $52,000.  Women who have their undergrad degree earned $39,289. Men with their undergrad averaged $45,416. There’s exciting news ahead, as nearly 48% of the female YP workforce (both PT & FT) were hired in the last five years.  That number is at about 40% among male YP’s; illustrating that our industry is beginning to hire women at a larger rate than it has in the past, even just five years ago. Not only are churches hiring more women, they are hiring seminary trained women at a higher rate than men.  Among respondents, a little more than 30% of female YP’s hired in the past five years have their Masters, and 36% of female YP’s have their Masters overall. This compares to 32.6% of men having their Masters, and only 22% of male YP’s hired for the first time in the past 5 years having their Masters.

Bigger Churches Have Bigger Gaps

For both men and women a job at a larger church is more lucrative.  At churches of 750 people or less, FT female YP’s earn an average of about $41,000 while their male counterparts earn $44,391. (Good for a 7% to 8% gap)  

The average salary of full-time YP’s across both genders who work at a church larger than 750 people is slightly less than $52,000 while the average salary of a FT YP at a church of 750 people or less is $43,700 (a 32% gap between large 750+ churches and smaller churches under that number! WOW!).  Whatever your gender, bigger churches equal bigger bucks. Women who work at churches of 750 people or more as a YP earn about $45,000 while their male counterparts earn $53,500; good for about a 15% to 16% gap in wage. There were 335 men who responded that are employed at a church of 750 or more as the FT YP, and only 79 women.  So while over all size churches the workforce is made up of 75% male and 25% female; at larger churches of 750 people or more, the workforce is 80% male and 20% female.

How Denominations Are Helping and Hurting Equal Pay

Our largest denominational body that responded were Baptists.  Among respondents they had 380 FT of which only 18 were female.  However, those 18 females averaged an eye-popping $50,000 wage, while their male counterparts only earned $47,000.  That salary average for Baptist women represents a significantly higher average wage than any other denominational body responding with at least 10 female FT YP’s.  Almost a third of all FT women reporting were Methodist (98 respondents), averaging a $39,000 salary. Presbyterian women accounted for 22% of all female respondents; and they earn nearly $45,000.  Lutherans had 7% of the total respondency, and came in with a $41,480 salary. Non-denominational Female YP’s earn nearly $44,000. It’s interesting to note that the largest denominational body of female FT YP’s (Methodist) had the lowest salary by more than 5% of any denominational body reporting with 10 or more female YPs.  While, of course, many factors contribute to the salary wage gap, one prospective idea on how to begin to close the gap would be to have Methodists begin to pay their male and female pastors more highly.  Across our 23 denominational classifications, counting Catholic and Non-denominational churches, Methodists ranked 20th in total compensation among both genders.  If I remove the females from all of the data and rank denominations by what they pay their male FT YP’s, the Methodists jump up to #11 of 23 in our data from #20. So while it appears Methodists are very much in favor of having female Youth Pastors based on having the largest representation in our study, their compensation of their women is still giving less than equal value to their male counterparts.  By comparison, Presbyterian women earn nearly $45,000, while their male counterparts earn less than $300 more on average; thus signifying not only an egalitarian theology, but also a real life practice that values equality between genders.

What Can We Do?

This is all very tricky because of the various theological traditions that exist and even participated in this survey.  First of all, if you’re a woman, I’d encourage you to pay attention to how your denominational body treats women; not just theologically, but also where the rubber meets the road: how they pay their Pastors.  I also think its worth considering that more and more women are being incentivized to qualify themselves more fully than men by pursuing Seminary training.

Also, my encouragement to my fellow men in youth ministry is to not presume you know what it’s like to be a women in ministry.  This has been a boys club for a long time. And its shifting right before our eyes regardless of your theological stream. We Christians swim in a wide river of theology under the name of Jesus, and it’s time for our Boards and Bosses to not just preach and teach equality, but to consider how they can compensate women with similar tenure, education, and gifting the same as their male counterparts.  

For far too long the church has been known for what we are against.  It’s time for us to be known for what we are for; and equality in compensation ought to be one of those things.  And that equality needs to start within our four walls before we can expect industries around us to take our message seriously.

Prepared by Dan Navarra, YP Comp Pros

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1 thought on “A Sub Report on The Gender Wage Gap Among Youth Pastors

  1. In this compensation report, you reference a follow-up report you’d be publishing for the 7% data you got on part-time youth pastor roles. May I have a link to this follow-up report? Many thanks!

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