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January 29, 2007


Tom Allen

Two youth work colleagues have directed my attention to you post about youth work and salaries. As an ex-youth church based youth worker between 1978 to 1998, (including 3 years in Battersea when I used to look with envy up the hill to wealthy Clapham) now an Anglican vicar involved in external supervision of youth workers and advising parishes in youth work can I challenge your presumptions about youth worker salaries. If I compare what a newly qualified youth worker would be paid (£18200 once the compulsory pension contribtion is paid) under national "secular" pay scales with a newly ordained curate in the Church of England - the curate is much more generously paid (£28,500 taking into account the free house, noncontributory pension, and other perks.)Similarly after three years when a youth worker might expect to move to a senior youth worker post and a curate to an incumbency the contrast is stark (£31,000 for the Vicar and £22,605 for the youth worker). So basically any youth worker in Christian circles offered the equivalent of a "minster" would be crazy not to grab it with open arms. What it illustrates is not that youth workers put money first - but that churches are not prepared to pay a salary which enables people to do normal things (especially in London)like getting a mortgage, having a family, etc. 25 years of experience says that churches would be better off not employing youth workers unless they can afford it.

andy goodliff

Tom, I stand corrected and apologise for any percieved negative tone. I'm not sure the figures are the same across every denomination. I think my wider point about the youthworker market becoming competitive and this is not a good thing still stands. And amybe that is where the debate should possibly be had. Does that mean only big churches can employ youthworkers? Also do church youthworkers (and perhaps ministers) see the money they received as a stipend or as a wage? I think there is an important distinction, that I'm not sure I always see made. Is youthwork a calling or a job? I'm not for anyone being underpaid. Questions around money are always difficult, but not made public. So perhaps by my (ill-informed?)post and your (more informed) comment, we've put it out there. I do write as a part-time youthworker and this post emerged after some conversations with other (baptist) youthworkers (although any problems should not reflect badly on them).

Tom Allen

For sure it is not the same across the denominations, but the Church of England is the major employer of church youth workers. I don't think that it just within the Church of England that there is a "vogue" for "paid" youth workers - a ( knee-jerk)response to the rapid decline in children/young people within many churches.

So some futher thoughts and reflections:
1. Within the Church of England the decline in the number of clergy "allocated" ( each Diocese has a quota of clergy) which has meant that wealthy parishes who used to employ and pay for their own assistant clergy have re-directed those funds to youth work posts.
2.An old colleague of mine used to say that clergy (and Christian youth workers?)would see what they were paid as a stipend (sufficient to live on at a reasonable standard as the Church of England defines it) when it was felt to be adequate, and a wage when it was felt to be inadequate.

3. Within the C of E it was felt that stipends were slipping behind three years ago (when the salary of a small primary school head was used as an index equivalent clergy had lost out by 22% over the previous ten years)and so stipends have been raised above inflation.

4. Partner incomes have particularly "distorted" perceptions of clergy wealth is the proportion of clergy (male and female)who have working spouses - for some of them the stipend bit is the second income - such as one of my closest clergy friends whose spouse is a barrister. Their family life style is dramatically different to ours in terms of income!! I can remember the days that curates could not afford a car unless they had family wealth (and quite a few did in the Church of England) - people kind expected them to use bicycles - would we think that normal and acceptable now.

5. The other is the issue of providing housing for retirement - put crudely Church used frankly to depend upon clergy getting a good inheritance before they retired - which with parents living longer and needing expensive final years care was simply not happening - too many in clergy face real poverty in retirment if they have not been able to make housing provision in early years.

6.The answer is perhaps to share the costs across several churches, and to focus on area youth work because beyond the particular trend described above the vast majority of churches will never be able to afford a youth worker.

7. When people ask my advice about particular appointments one thing I always get them to ask is what budget beyond the salary costs has the church committed to youth work. It is better to have a part-timer (which can attract a better quality of candidate particularly in the big urban areas)with a proper budget, than to go for a better paid full-time post with no working budget and all the added hassle of fund-raising for your own work.

I think that this latter approach is healthier for the church and for the youth worker.


andy goodliff

Thanks for the further thoughts (and education!) Tom. What I see in most if not all the adverts in youthwork magazine is for full-timers not part-timers. I would tentatively suggest its hard to find someone trained who is willing to be a part-time youthworker. Otherwise I think our church would have gone for this option. I'm also concerned that the rise in church youthworkers doesn't mean the church members gather round to support the youthworker (much like most ministry) and adequately supporting a growing work with young people is hard. I suggest in a post last year that perhaps 'the predominant role of the church youthworker was not to work with young people, but to encourage, equip and empower parents and other adults to be those who engage young people'.


Is it right to include the cost of the clergy house when comparing the clergy stipend to the youthworker salary? (which it looks like you have done. forgive me if I have misread you).

Some Churches will provide their youthworker with a house, and some youthworkers will already have a house when they take employment.

It's not as if this is tangiable income a curate/ incumbant can spend, just as you wouldn't include the mandatory pension payment in the tangiable pay of a youthworker.

Tom Allen

Interesting thoughts. (I did caveat my statement about part-timers by saying in the big urban areas with a natural catchment area). But it has been my experience that some of the very best youth work posts have been part-time and have attracted really strong fields of candidates - often with lots of experience but at stages of life and family commitments which inhibit them from working full-time. I would go so far now as to suggest to churches that if they can genuinely afford a full-time post with proper budget they at least consider offering it as a job share when you get two skills sets. So the question is whether the fact that most people are appointing full-timers is necessarily right - have they thought of two part-timers for example or a job share.

Plus part-time "should" focus the Churches thoughts on what they really want the person to do - and experienced part-timers can provide training and support to those doing the face to face work.

I actually welcome the fact that employing youth workers is getting more competitive - it will stop youth workers "commitment" being exploited by churches that play "the commitment card" to avoid paying realistic salaries for properly funded posts - but sadly end up with short-term posts and workers moving on cos they can't afford it.

I do wonder with the changing employment market whether we are training too many youth workers on specifically Christian courses, and whether we ought not encourage potential youth worker to consider the college courses which have more secualar credibility - but that is just a hunch or opinion.

Not sure if it is "right" - but it is helpful when working out the "real cost" to a church which is what the salary comparison was about and people suggest that youth workers are expensive (compared with clergy!) or worse still overpaid. You could argue for the youth worker that the church should allow for pension costs which they would have to pay even though the youth worker would not receive it. I was trying to address two questions in one model - what it costs the Church and what the "well-paid" youth worker receives

However if you want to compare raw salaries (what the people receive) then the first post youth worker is still paid less than the curate - and the Vicar only £800 less than the Senior Youth Worker and vicar perks would soon overide that in a year once you take into account pension, car loans and other freebies available to clergy and not to youth workers.

I can assure you that having a tied house for "free" is a mixed blessing when you have to plan to retire. But interestingly many buidling societies will consider Anglican clergy for buy-to-let properties because of their high disposalble incomes!

I excluded the mandatory pension from the youth worker salary to provide a comparison of disposable income which for younger people is the most relavent index - Anglican clergy get a non-contributory pension so you have to compare like for like.

I haven't come across (m)any churches which offer a secular pay scale and a free house most might start with JNC scales and then deduct a charge for a house.

When I was Diocesan Youth Officer in Blackburn Diocese I was paid on Local Authority Soulbury Youth Officer pay scales by Lancashire County Council with and non-contributory pension, and interest free car loan etc from the Church. But I was very much the exception because of my background in youth work and project management and I guess because they offered the package because they knew what I could earn elsewhere was much more than that.

So I was much better off than my equivalent LEA colleagues, and far better off than my other DYO colleagues cos I had my own house in one of the cheapest housing areas in England at the time. Which only goes to show that there are lots of factors involved in each role or setting.

The key point I wanted to make is that youth workers on secular pay scales cost The Church (locally and nationally combined)less than a typical minister within the Church of England.

My more limited experience of other denominations is that pay scales tend to be lower in both categories - but if people add in the value of the house and pensions for ministers then youth workers are still paid less.


Cor Andy you have started a discussion. Among the range of things you staed I was interested in the passing reference I think in your original blog to 'youth minister' rather than 'youth worker'. Here I wonder if there is a further issues with respect to understanding that needs to be teased out. Now I speak from a limited Scottish Baptist experience but also an actual practical one. I was trained as a Baptist minister - theology, use of the Bible, pastoral care, communication etc. I always had been, and as a pastor of a relatively small urban church (1989-1994) continued to be, involved in Youth Work. I then left that Church and became 'Associate Minister Youth' in Kirkintilloch Baptist Church a large (membership 420 ish)suburban Church. This was a role that I had for some five years full time with a further couple in oversight of the Youth Work and some ongoing activity even after I became the Team Leader (Senior Minister) of that Church before we appointed another full time worker. When I was called to that Church - they wanted a youth 'minister' - that is they wanted someone to function in and among young people in both pastoral care and mission and evangelism (some of which was pretty bold street stuff and involved large numbers of both churched and unchurched young people) but functioning by drawing upon the experience and resources of what may be called the training and experience of 'pastoral ministry' rather than any specific 'youth work' training. It all went very well.

All I am probing here by telling that is the question of whether 'youth ministry' is the application with and among young people of the skills associated with pastoral ministry but 'Christian youth work' is a different and more specialized training drawing on a different set of resources and training base. I am not really arguing for one over and against another except that Churches perhaps need to be aware of the difference, the options, and what in fact they are looking for.

What I do think contra specialisation is that many of the skills of pastoral ministry are transferrable to work among both churched and non churched young people. Just as actually they have to be among people of a wide range of ages and stages e.g. including the elderly.

andy goodliff

Stuart, every now and again I like to set the cat among the pigeons as it were. When I use the word 'youthworker' in the context of church, I always mean 'youth minister'. In my opinion if you're church youthworker, you're a youth minister.

My other (probably unfounded) concern is that there is not enough theology in youthwork courses. The theology they encounter is not deep enough. I want youthworkers to be theologically literate, to become theologians, to continue to journey theologically through their ministry with young people. Do you think the major organisations that train youthworkers are producing those kind of people?


Tom- Thanks for your response.

Do you think part of the problem in perception here (in an Anglican church) might be to do with how the minister is paid, compared to the Youthworker?

Since ministers are paid for by the diocese, the church probably doesn't have any clear idea about how much their minister is actually paid... they simply pay whatever their allotted parish share is (which could be substantially greater or lesser than the cost of paying the minister) and the minister gets paid from elsewhere.

If a church is taking on its own youthworker (or other employees), then they are probably being paid directly from church coffers, so the PCC and so forth would be more conscious of how much they are being paid..

I suppose I'm suggesting that because people are more aware of the 'cost' of a youthworker than they are a minsiter, certain assumptions might be made...


hey, found your site via google - great discussion...

I am currently about to leave my role as youth minister in a large anglican church in Cheam, SW London/ Surrey (I have seen the CBC job and there seem to be all sorts of issues that are exposed in the job description etc - would be happy to converse more about it).

I trained at CYM Ridley Hall 2000-03 and my placement was a church in Romford. I then moved to America to do some Emerging Church work... answers on a postcard… and then to my current church, in Cheam.

As I start spewing my CV in every direction, and looking for posts, I have noticed there are plenty of jobs but very little to attract someone with 6-7 years of experience. I am 27 and ready to start a fire, but how many adverts are looking for someone to really lead something 'new' or using Frosts language, encourage young people to live with “reckless faith”?

The suburban churches have a monopoly on the jobs, but they require managers not leaders – I wonder if the Christian courses panda to this enough. How many youth workers leave this ‘vocation’ because their heart for the poor that led them into ministry has been manipulated into a safe, near secular role? Money quickly tames a radical life.

Youth Ministry as a whole needs to define another role. Rather than merely employing a “chaplain for the youth congregation” (my job), what about training “priests for the community”. Christian training schools have followed the secular roles, but we don’t understand the radical role we are called to have. Where is Jesus in some of the toughest, poorest neighbourhoods? I know the wealthy people in Cheam would love to invest in such a venture.

So... how do we generate inner city mission that attracts those who would give everything just to serve Jesus. We need to jump back a century and re-learn. Young people want to give, they are ready for it. People are starting to feel self-centred.

A quick dig… yes the youth training courses are churning out youth workers (applause), but I have seen and heard of very few ‘leaders’. One friend was recently looking to fill his role and the best candidate was asked the question “what would your vision for here be?” she answered “I like eating ice cream with the girls”. This girl had graduated from one of the discussed courses – can anyone actually academically or practically fail?

Does youth work have to nose dive with the rest of the organised church?

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