mhYAnRQYou have been asked to lead a retreat or fill a pulpit or offer a workshop. Feeling affirmed, you might not want to bring up money. Either they didn’t offer an amount, or the amount offered seems unreasonably low. Talking about money in ministry is hard, especially when the subject is how much our ministry leadership is worth in dollars. This week our Matriarchs offer their advice about how we ask for compensation for leading retreats and workshops, public speaking (keynotes, for example) and pulpit supply.

Sharon Temple

When I have done workshops for wider church gatherings, there was no fee offered or expected. At this point in my ministry, I am most likely to be called for pulpit supply. I have a number in mind when the congregation asks me what I “charge.” I also have in mind a way-low number that I probably wouldn’t go for. Within that, I have decided to go with what is offered.

The most important thing is to decide ahead of time what you are and are not willing/ready to do at what compensation point. If money is not mentioned in the initial contact, it is our responsibility to raise the issue. The worst thing is to find yourself resentful or disappointed about the compensation later in the experience.

Kelley Wehmeyer Shin

Talking money on one’s own behalf is difficult! When I am working in a church or Presbytery setting – I am PC(USA) – and providing services which require fees, I work within the fee range which the church or the Presbytery have established, and those fees are communicated by the administrative staff of those bodies. When I am providing a ministerial service outside of church or Presbytery (such as a wedding or retreat) I communicate my own fees to the responsible parties. I do not necessarily accept just what is offered but let the parties know ahead of the event what the fee is and when it is to be paid. For non-member weddings at the church, our session has set the clergy honorarium at $300. When I officiate weddings outside of the church setting, I charge the same honorarium unless I discern that the couple is keeping their wedding costs to a bare minimum because of their limited resources. In such cases, I have lowered my clergy fee.

Anne Andert

For presentations I also include mileage, and in SOME circumstances that is all I charge. But I am retired and can pick and choose what and where I present, and tend to do things that are a joy and rewarding for me. For pulpit supply our synod has guidelines plus mileage and I’ve never had an issue with congregations not knowing or honoring that.

What would you add to these thoughts, dear reader? How do you talk about money when you are doing pulpit supply, offering a workshop or leading a retreat?

* Do you accept what is offered (no matter what it is) or do you have a pre-determined fee that you ask for?
* What is the best approach to take when you talk about money for ministry events?
* What do you think is fair to charge/receive for leading retreats/workshops, public speaking, and pulpit supply?
* Are there factors or extenuating circumstances that make a difference in what you charge, or if you do?

Please leave your responses in the comments below.

Is there a topic — money, or something else — that you are reluctant to bring up in your ministry life? Send your scenario to AskTheMatriarch (at) gmail (dot) com for advice and support.


Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.


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2 thoughts on “Ask the Matriarch: “What Do You Charge?”

  1. In the United Church of Canada there is a salary guideline so there is equity. It’s a minimum and congregations are invited to offer more, but for pulpit supply I would receive $209 plus .39cents per kilometre for travel. I am very grateful that we have this and am surprised more denominations do not. I am not sure what would be the fee for leading a workshop or seminar.

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  2. I have always encourages the churches I serve to set fees for weddings and funerals, both in the church and off site. We have a one pager that outlines the fees that I go over with the family/couple at our first meeting. Some, like organist are non-negotiable/catering, mine are depending on circumstances. My denomination, the United Church of Canada, has set a minimum for our clergy for pulpit supply, and includes mileage. For retreats, workshops, it depends. But I would talk about it up front. Sometimes, I will do something for lunch!

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