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Salary Guidelines

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

When workers accept a Call or appointment to serve, they make a commitment to faithful and full service to the best of their ability, with the help of God. Congregations and schools must also commit to provide for the worker’s needs. These ministries should be concerned with the fair and just compensation of the worker, and the care and well-being for the whole family as a key component to ministry of the church or school. A healthy staff makes for a healthy ministry, focused on discipling and reaching their community with the precious Gospel of Jesus!


The resources provided here have been developed to assist congregations and schools in the support for professional church workers, a joyful pursuit for God’s people and privilege to walk with His servants in mission and ministry together.

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Salary Guidelines 

The Pacific Southwest District has adopted Concordia Plan Services’ Compensation Decision Support Tools for churches and schools to provide suggested salary guidelines. These tools provide salary guidance that is not as dependent upon volatile real estate values upon which previous guidelines were based, but better account for regional realities and are based on millions of data points. More background on these tools is provided below.


Note that these tools provide a suggested baseline range, a starting point – they are not a prescriptive mandate from the District requiring a worker to be paid a specific amount. Rather, they are intended to be a helpful resource for congregational and school leaders who are responsible for setting appropriate salary levels for their workers and their context. We do strongly recommend that salaries are not set below the minimum shown by these tools.


See Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Salary Guidelines

Compensation Tools

Create compensation estimates for positions including Sole Pastor, Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, Director of Christian Education, Director of Christian Outreach, Deaconess, Director of Family Life Ministry, Director of Parish Music and Lay Minister.

Username and Password are CPS (all caps).

Note on compensation estimates for Specific Ministry Pastors (SMPs):

While there is not a specific option in the tool for SMP pastors, please treat them as the pastors they are and use the Associate Pastor or Sole Pastor option, whichever is relevant for your situation. Make sure to factor in previous education and experience in other disciplines. Proper handling of SMP pastors in compensation estimates has been brought before the Council of Presidents for discussion, so further refinement may occur in the future.

Create compensation estimates for preschool through high school positions including Teacher, Assistant Teacher, Head Principal/Administrator, Assistant Principal/Administrator and Early Childhood Educator.

Username and Password are CPS (all caps).

COLA Salary Increase Recommendation for 2023

The US federal government and Social Security Administration are implementing a 8.7% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for 2023. This is a common baseline that your church and school can use to determine salary increases. Best practice is to periodically compare your salaries against the CPS Compensation Tool to ensure they are within a proper range.

Compensation Tool

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. - 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Transitioning to the new guidelines

Your salary levels may be tied to previously published PSD guidelines (i.e. by a resolution of your governing board, for example). A suggested transition plan could include continuing to use the previously published guidelines for a period of time (i.e. one year) and implementing a resolution to begin using the new guidelines on a specified future date. If you will continue to use previously published guidelines, please be aware that, since the PSD now recommends the CPS Compensation Tool, previous guidelines will no longer be updated.

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Background on the CPS Compensation Tools

Concordia Plan Services engaged a professional compensation firm that researches actual salaries from many nationally recognized denominations (and independents) and maintains the data over time in light of inflation and cost of living patterns by region. This greatly expanded database (consisting of millions of data points updated regularly) better reflects actual market rates and trends. Put simply, salary estimations from these tools are more specific to trends within each church’s or school’s service area, and are more up-to-date and accurate than the District could provide. Learn more.


No salary guideline is perfect for every situation. We encourage the use of these tools, however, to properly determine compensation for the workers partnering with you to further God’s Kingdom


Ministry Guidelines and Other Resources for Professional Church Worker Care

Comprehensive ministry and worker care resource for your congregation/school to help you care, support and encourage your fellow staff and colleagues in ministry.

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