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The Cost of Replacing a Pastor

20 February 2012

When churches say that they can’t afford for their minister to be coached, I smile.  That is so short-sighted.  Forget helping a pastor to be more effective simply for the kingdom’s sake! 

Look at it in pure dollars and cents:

It is conservatively estimated that the cost of pastoral turnover is equal to one and a half times the salary of the present pastor. For example, if your present pastor is receiving $40,000 it will cost you roughly $60,000 to replace him if he leaves. This happens for a number of reasons.

You begin with the least (usually) of the costs:  searching for a minister.  Depending on how many times you pay to bring candidates in for interviews and “meet the congregation” meetings, this usually runs in the thousands of dollars. If you place online ads or use snail mail, add those costs. 

moving vanWhile looking for a new pastor church leaders become more aware of the current salaries and benefits others are receiving. They often find they must pay a higher salary to get a person with equal experience and skills.  (I’m looking at this from the board’s perspective, not the minister’s perspective).

In many cases the present pastor will have purchased or rented a home when the rates for doing so were much lower. When a new pastor comes he most likely will need more money to cover housing costs.

Still another reason for this high cost of pastoral turnover is the fact that it takes a new pastor at least two years to get his feet on the ground and become effective in ministry. Studies have found that a pastor’s most effective years don’t even come until the 6-7th year! Pastoral turnover in the first five years represents a real loss of value that is difficult to measure.

In short it is economically wiser to keep your existing pastor than to bring in a now one.   

Coaching is a proven way to help with that.



Andre Massenburg.  “A Word to Church Leaders On Pastoral Compensation” Retrieved on 11 February 2011 from


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