The Southern Baptist Convention was first formally recognized after a split with Northern Baptists in 1845. Now the denomination boasts over 16 million church members. The SBC assumes the autonomy of its local churches, meaning it allows the individual church bodies to decide most matters of church polity. Such matters as the wages and benefits of its staff are typically left to its board of elders or entire church body to decide. The wages for a Southern Baptist Church pastor vary within certain demographic profiles.
The SBC's Lifeway Christian Resources surveyed U.S. churches in 2010 to compile its formal compensation study. This research of 3,670 respondents found that the average full-time Southern Baptist pastor made $55,829 in average compensation and a total pay package including retirement and insurance averaging $66,275. Bi-vocational pastors, or those with an additional job beyond head pastor, made $18,971 in compensation and $20,667 in their total pay package. Ministry-related expenses such as "travel expense; expenses for conventions and continuing education; expenses for ministry-related book, tapes, and periodicals and ministry-related hospitality expenses" are not included in these compensation figures.
Education can certainly play a part in a Southern Baptist pastor receiving a higher level of compensation. According to Lifeway, a pastor with high school or less education averaged $41,879 in compensation and a total pay package of $47,751 while a pastor with a bachelor's degree made $47,970 and $56,276, and one with a master's degree made $55,256 and $65,814. The highest level of compensation for a SBC pastor is for one with a doctorate, who averages $71,391 and $85,703.
Another way to analyze an SBC pastor's salary, according to Lifeway, is by the size of his congregation. Pastors with a church averaging 50 to 74 attendees averaged $40,030 and $45,998, respectively. Pastors with a church averaging 74 to 99 averaged $43,811 and $50,798; 100 to 149 averaged $48,532 and $57,398; 150 to 199 averaged $54,769 and $65,551; 200 to 299 averaged $60,834 and $72,692; 300 to 499 averaged $72,162 and $86,841; 500 to 999 averaged $88,136 and $107,197; and those averaging over 1,000 attendance averaged $121,987 and $147,279. The highest individual salary of these 114 churches with over 1,000 attendees was $275,540.
The benefits within the total pay package of an average Southern Baptist Convention pastor are also sizable. More than 24 percent of SBC pastors live in a church-owned parsonage; 68 percent receive a church-paid retirement program; and 70 percent of SBC pastors receive health insurance. Of the 3,670 respondents, 112 received one week of vacation yearly; 1411 received two weeks; 1,017 received three weeks; 884 received four weeks; and 173 received five weeks. These figures do not count when the pastor does not preach, as during scheduled revival services and guest speakers.