Clergy Member Requirements and Salary
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Required of Clergy
Today’s clergy members have many different hats they need to wear, but the good news is, there is also a growing movement for members of the church to play a more aggressive role in daily church operations.
Still, clergy are expected to have a wide range of knowledge, skills, and abilities.
First and foremost, clergy members should have extensive knowledge of theology, the Bible, and their denomination’s worship methodology, including the church’s history and evolution. This is usually gained through attending seminary school or Christian college. In addition, since clergy members are leaders and typically have people working for them, even if it is on a volunteer basis, clergy members need to have knowledge of leadership, management, and administrative practices. Customer service techniques are also valuable for clergy to know, since they provide many services to their constituents.
Lastly, since clergy members counsel and advise their congregation, they should have a basic understanding of counseling techniques and know when to refer someone to a professional, licensed counselor.
Being a clergy member is a people-intensive job, which means having excellent communication skills is a must. Clergy must be able to listen to their congregants, understand their needs, and respond to them in a meaningful way. Additionally, clergy members need to have strong organizational and time management skills. Kevin Brennfleck, a national certified career counselor and director of the Christian Career Center says “Every day is different. There are so many priorities and it is a struggle to get it all done.” Having good organizational and time management skills can go a long way toward keeping you on task and in good standing. As a leader, clergy members are also often the ones that are looked upon to make a final decision. A clergy member must have excellent decision making skills.
As if all of these skills and extensive knowledge wasn’t enough, congregations also expect their clergy members to be excellent speakers, teachers, and writers. Most of these abilities can be improved with practice and through attending workshops and continuing education classes.
Clergy Member Salary
The salary for clergy members, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $20.06 hourly, or $41,730 a year. Salaries fluctuate dramatically from denomination to denomination and within each denomination. Often the larger the church and clergy responsibility, the higher the salary will be, although that is not always the case. Some smaller, affluent churches may pay a greater salary equal to a larger church.
Potential Career Paths
So once you become a minister, priest, pastor, or elder, what’s next, you might ask? The answer to that question depends on your denomination, or church, if your church is not affiliated with a denomination.
Traditional denominations like the Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches usually have hierarchal structures in place that will map out possible career advancements. Churches are usually clustered in geographical sections which are overseen by a single person, usually called a bishop, but not always, depending on your denomination. You may start out heading a small church in a given area. Once you (and leaders agree) you have accomplished what you can at that church, your next step may be to lead a larger church. Eventually you could supervise many churches by becoming a bishop, or lead a certain aspect of worship or church life for a district, like education, outreach, etc.
If your church is non-denominational, then your options may be fewer. You may choose to grow your church, or to start other churches in nearby sections of your city or towns. You may also choose to explore other tools for professional development, like writing articles or books, or speaking at meetings and conferences.