According to the NECF Survey of Churches, Pastors and Christians that was carried out in 2001, a total of 226, 514 and 3,738 responses were received for the Survey of Churches, Survey of Pastors and Survey of Christians respectively. In this Survey, NECF makes the bold claim that "the maximum margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 6 percentage points, +/- 5 percentage points and +/- 2 percentage points for the Survey of Churches, Pastors and Christians respectively." In other words, NECF confidently asserts that the results of this survey reflects a true picture of the real situation. If this is the case, we can safely assume that we could rely on the statistics of this Survey to make our judgement call.
Since this Survey was carried out in 2001, there does not seem to be any other comprehensive survey being carried out. But on the other hand, while the statistics of this survey may be slightly dated, it is doubted that there are any significant differences in the statistics between 2001 and the present day.
So, let's consider what the Basic Salary of a pastor of an NECF affiliated church looks like according to the Survey:
- 19.4% earn less than RM1,000 per month
- 45.8% earn between RM1,000-RM1,999 per month
- 22.1% earn between RM2,000-RM2,999 per month
- 8.4% earn between RM3,000-RM3,999 per month
- 2.9% earn between RM4,000-RM4,999 per month
- 1.4% earn more than RM5,000 per month
In other words, based on the above figure, approximately 87.3% of the pastors fall within the category of non-tax paying income earners according to the present tax structure.
In addition, the Survey also highlights the Other Income that a pastor might receive, include love gifts, allowances, utilities subsidies, insurances, book royalties, etc, as follow:
- 37.8% receive other income of less than RM1,000 per year
- 30.1% receive other income of RM1,000-RM2,999 per year
- 12.8% receive other income of RM3,000-RM4,999 per year
- 12.2% receive other income of RM5,000-RM9,999 per year
- 6.1% receive other income of RM10,000-RM29,999 per year
- 1.1% receive other income of more than RM30,000 per year
Now that we already have a picture of what a pastor earns, let us consider the following questions: Based on their earnings, what do the pastors think about their own salary? Is what they are earning adequate for them and to enable them to have some savings for their future and rainy days?
- 20.7% indicate that it is adequate for the present and future (including children's education)
- 53.0% indicate that it is adequate for the present only
- 19.5% indicate that it is not inadequate but not a concern
- 6.2% indicate that it is inadequate and negatively affecting family and ministry.
So what do the above statistics inform us? Does the salary that our pastor/full time worker receive according to the above figures represent fair wage based on the current level of inflation, cost and standard of living? Is it fair to say that 79.3% of the pastors feel that their present income level is inadequate or only adequate for the present? Is the church paying for their "workers" sufficiently? Would this level of income be an encouragement or hindrance for many others to enter into full-time Christian vocation? If not, what is the Church doing about it? Can the church afford to pay a little bit more? If so, what is stopping the church from paying a higher bracket of income? What is hindering the congregation to give a little bit more?
In addition, the Survey also notes that more than 17.3% of the pastors surveyed worked more than 60 hours a week. Coupled with inadequate salary, could this play a very significant role in which 61.0% of the pastors have in one time or another seriously thought of leaving their pastoral ministry? Could inadequate level of income be one of the factors of discouragement for the pastors?
I think I have more questions than answers. Any thoughts? Any comments?