A new study released by the Leadership Network and the Vanderbloeman Search Group has looked at the salary trends of 1,200 churches with regular attendance of 500 or more people throughout the United States and Canada, and found that almost half of their entire budgets, go to paying staff. You can download it here.

The survey looked at the salaries of the churches at their different sizes across the country with an attendance of 2,000 people or more. It found that 49 percent of a church’s total budget goes to salary and benefits for its staff, with 98 percent of the church’s total budget comes from money the congregation gives. It also found that 54 percent of churches gave bonuses to the senior pastor within the last 12 months. Only about half (52 percent) spend more than 10 percent of their budget “on ministry beyond their own congregation–from local soup kitchens to world missions to church planting.”

Knowledge about salaries is generally pretty secretive, with 81 percent of churches saying that only a small group of people know about the specific salary of the pastoral staff.

You can download the whole study, or a (free) executive summary at Leadnet.org/salary.