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Compensation + budget YM2016 from Church of the Lutheran Brethren on Vimeo.

In 2012 a survey was sent out to our youth worker network asking them seven questions regarding their compensation and the budgets that they oversee in their youth ministries. After relying on those results for the last four years I felt that now was a good time to pursue updated feedback. During that time, we should note that there are a number of potential factors that could have led to the new results including pastoral and leadership level changes in each church, national, local and church-specific economic factors, attendance/giving growth or decline at each individual church, and even changes in each church’s youth leader/director/pastor amongst a host of additional potential factors.

By doing this survey my hope is that it might find itself in the hands of churches that could benefit from the results. In my November of 2016 post I mentioned that in the book “Growing Young” by Griffin, Mulder and Powell it was discussed that the way we use our time, facilities and budgets speaks to what matters in our churches. With that being said, I realize that churches often have limited resources and that they desire to be as generous as possible.

I realize also that this is a sampling of our churches and that it does not reflect an identical comparison of 2012 and 2016. In addition, I went to college to study youth ministry followed by studying pastoral ministry at Bethel Seminary and the Lutheran Brethren Seminary which means I did not study how to do research like this. So, for as profitable as I hope this is, I’m certain that there exists a tremendous amount of additional feedback worth researching.

As you review this report, my hope is that it provides invaluable feedback as you enter into your next budgets.

Each sub-section in this post will show a pair of identical graphics with the year they represent followed by my opinions of how they differ.



As I compared 2012 and 2016, observations that stood out to me:

  1. There are slightly fewer directors and more pastors that are serving in youth ministry in 2016 versus 2012
  2. Based off of the previous insight, I’m wondering if a few more churches felt they needed to have this lead staff be a pastor for varying reasons.
  3. There is also an increase in the number of volunteers who identified themselves in this survey.


Based off of these two charts I see three trends reflected in these questions.

  1. The number of smaller sized youth groups increased
  2. The number of medium sized youth groups grew by close to 40%
  3. The larger youth groups held their size.


As I compare the four years separating these two charts I see two trends:

  1. There seems to be greater satisfaction now regarding budgets as fewer desired more funds and more persons were content
  2. However, those that aligned themselves with being overly satisfied with their budgets have decreased.


The following seem to be the slight changes worth noting:

  1. There appears to be an increase in purchased curriculum
  2. More churches are assisting their chaperones and staff
  3. More churches seem to be using budgeted funds to offset events
  4. Churches are increasing their purchasing of equipment
  5. More churches are using budgeted funds for transportation costs
  6. More churches are providing scholarships
  7. There seemed to be a slight decrease in food that was purchased

One variable that I did not ask in either survey was for participants to name the size of their youth ministry and the budgeted allowances that they have. As I saw that need, I went and contacted 20 youth workers to create a sampling of their budgets.

Here are the responses from churches with less then 20 students in their groups

  • $250 but the church responds as needs arise
  • $2000 (2)
  • $2500
  • $6000
  • $1000
  • $4500
  • $500

Here are the responses from churches with less then 50 students in their groups

  • $4500 (3)
  • $4000
  • $2000
  • $1500
  • $1000
  • $2100

Four churches with more than 75 students in their youth groups offered ministry budgets ranging from $5500-$30,000 with their average being $13,500


I want to name the following observations regarding budget and compensation satisfaction

  1. Those who would fall into the category of “satisfied” remain at an even level
  2. Those who are feeling the economic pinch increased, however fewer are feeling the need to leave vocational ministry
  3. Volunteer led youth leaders seems to have increased


As I compare these two charts there are two observations I see worth noting

  1. There is a decrease of those who paid for things up to $100 without reimbursement
  2. There is an increase of those who paid for things over $1000 without being reimbursed

In addition, I asked for any other feedback that respondents were willing to contribute and the following sentiments were given

  • They wished they could do more events for less money
  • They wished they could do a few less fundraisers
  • They have little to no budget for equipment and supplies but the church is generous with its purchase of curriculum and bibles
  • One youth worker described their church as very generous
  • Another youth worker said that their group is growing but their budget has not. At the same time, their transportation costs have increased forcing them to decrease spending in other areas
  • Another stated that if they had a salary they could focus more time and energy on the position and their ministry to students
  • Another youth worker wished they could be hired even part-time which would free them up of a lot of personal financial stress to do discipleship and mentoring
  • Another youth worker expressed the need for benefits to care for their family


In addition to these charted questions I asked for willing respondents to name their compensation and pt/ft status. The following reflect those answers

  • FT with a salary of $38,000
  • FT with a salary of $36,000 with no benefits
  • FT with a salary of $38,000
  • FT with a salary of $43,000 plus a 5 bedroom home
  • FT with a salary of $25,000 plus housing and utilities
  • FT with a total compensation package of $43,000
  • PT compensation plus a parsonage and utilities
  • PT (25 hours) with a salary of $18,540
  • FT with a salary of $52,000
  • FT with a salary of $47,500
  • FT with a salary of $65,000
  • PT but works about 35 hours per week with a salary of $1100 per month
  • FT with a salary and benefits of $51,000

Final Conclusions

As I wrap all this together I’d like to offer the following closing questions or thoughts.

  1. Over the last four years, are we seeing a rise in the number of associate pastors or are we seeing more senior/lead pastors taking on the role of youth ministry?
  2. Are we seeing more volunteer leaders taking charge?
  3. I think a valuable follow up survey would be to create a youth ministry assessment survey
  4. I am wondering how much financial stretching the churches represented here would have to do to meet the hoped for needs of their youth workers and youth ministries
  5. I am wondering how the state of our national economics is affecting our youth ministries and the students they serve
  6. There seems to be a mixed response from those who are satisfied with their compensation and from those who desire increased resources.
  7. Some youth workers sound like they are carrying a heavy load with few resources

I have no doubt that each of our churches values its ministry to students. Nonetheless I would love to encourage churches to be as much of a blessing as they can to those who are a blessing to the students connected with those churches.


John 3:27 – John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”



by Mark Johannesen

CLB Young Adults Survey
The Summer I Slept Around - A Values and Budgeting Conversation