Rock climbing walls, kids’ spaces that resemble small Disneylands, bookstores and state-of-the-art sound systems represent today’s Black church – supersized.
Black mega churches draw huge numbers of worshippers and receive millions in collection plates. Black Mega churches are successful corporate entities that seek to service all the spiritual and social needs of their communities.
Black mega churches’ pastors are major corporate CEOs shepherding large business bases. Mega churches are characterized by congregations of from 10,000 to 25,000 and spectacular buildings which house sanctuaries, day-care centers, bookstores, and health centers.
Most resound with crowds and activities seven days a week, and own businesses, subdivisions, and separate community activity buildings. Almost all mega churches have TV pastorates, feature high-tech video along with foot-tapping music.
There are less than 50 nationwide, but Dallas-based Bishop T.D. Jakes, Houston’s Kirby Caldwell, Atlanta’s Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar and Los Angeles’ Charles E. Blake have grown their memberships by preaching material success and sales their books, festivals, and movies. Their congregations have expanded into businesses such as: schools, assisted living facilities and ex-offender re-entry programs.
Some African Americans leaders find the growth of these congregations worrisome; saying these pastorates focus on messages of personal prosperity and turn their backs on the struggle for civil rights.
The typical mega church is suburban, has a total budget of over $5 million and often more than 50 full-time staff. These churches tend to have a charismatic senior minister and an active array of social and outreach ministries. The average salary for a lead pastor in a mega church is $147,000. Salaries for lead pastors go as high as $400,000 to as low as $40,000. Executive pastors at churches that have a weekend attendance of 2,000 or more persons earn, on average, $99,000 a year. Generally, staffing costs average between 40 and 50 percent of many churches’ budget. A church with a budget of $1-1.99 million provides, on average, the senior pastor with a salary of $91,000. The average salary for a senior pastor at a church with a $10 million, or more, budget is $189,000. The median age for a mega churches’ senior pastor is 49.
In a survey conducted by the Leadership Network, churches with week end attendance of 2,000 or more provide their full-time staffers with medical insurance. Ninety-three percent of churches with week end attendances of 1,000, or more, offer their workers medical insurance. Forty percent offer medical coverage for employees’ dependents. Other benefits provided by a majority of mega churches include dental insurance, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, a retirement account and a technology/cell phone allowance. Four in five typically contribute to a retirement plan for staff.
There are 1,210 Protestant churches in the U.S. with a weekly attendance of 2,000 or more. A Leadership Network survey showed average mega church has a Sunday attendance of 3,585. But not all mega churches are mega. The survey found that only 16 percent of mega churches had 5,000 people in attendance on a given Sunday. On average, an ordained Protestant pastor serving a small congregation received a median salary and housing package of $31,234. There is a wide disparity in compensation between Protestant pastors serving small congregations and those serving medium and large congregations. In a survey, Protestant pastors serving a congregation of more than 1,000 members received a median salary and housing package of $81,923. Roman Catholic priests earned less than Protestant pastors, in part because they have no family to support. Depending on the size of the parish, the median salary for Catholic priests runs between $21,000 and $26,095. Jewish rabbis earn more than Roman Catholic and Protestant pastors combined.
Most Americans do not attend church. The median church in the U.S. has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings. Many say “today’s churches are more concerned with raising money than saving souls.” Many a church goer is “filled with the spirit” if the minister barks and woofs enough to make folks happy enough to fall in the aisles and get up before NFL games starts at 1PM.
Written By William Reed