An evangelist is a messenger of the Gospels, or "good news" of Christianity. In fact, Truthortradition.com states that "an evangelist is moved with compassion at the pitiful plight of mankind and has confidence that the Gospel message will bring deliverance and wholeness to anyone who believes it." Evangelists generally travel, and while some earn meager wages, others earn millions of dollars annually and have private jets. However, a prerequisite for any evangelist is to be called by God.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list any data for evangelists. However, since evangelists are, in some cases, pastors, they would qualify as members of the clergy. According to the bureau, the average salary for clergy members is $45,440 as of May 2008 with the lowest 10 percent earning approximately $21,000 and the highest 10 percent earning approximately $74,000. Resume and Career Portal gets more specific and lists the average yearly salary of evangelists at roughly $32,000.
Among the highest earners among evangelists are televangelists whose annual wages reach millions of dollars. They also receive perks such as cars, homes and private jets. Televangelists travel often and tape their services for television audiences, sometimes reaching millions of viewers. They are paid from the donations of their often large congregations and donations from individuals and other churches. Top earning televangelists include Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis.
According to a Forbes magazine article, Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church -- America's largest church -- had a yearly operating budget of $70 million in 2009, although he does not take a salary from the church. However, Osteen has a $13 million book deal. Similarly, Joyce Meyer also has a multimillion-dollar book deal and according to an April 2010 interview with Cynthia McFadden for ABC's "Nightline," had an operating budget of $100 million in 2009. She receives a $250,000 salary. Another prominent televangelist, John Hagee, had an operating budget of $12 million as early as 2001, according to Inplainsite.org. This does not include Hagee's $540,000 yearly salary as a director of the church's nonprofit operations. Hagee also has earned millions of dollars in book revenues and remains one of the country's most prominent evangelists.
In a December 2010 article for Freedom Ministries International titled "How to Pay the Evangelist," J.R. Ensey cites a 2000 survey that states that roughly 89 percent of evangelists were married with average offerings of the last 10 churches totaling under $500. The article points out that the evangelists surveyed made far less than the average needed to maintain their churches ($686 weekly). Some evangelists volunteer on crusades around the worlds while some volunteer their time at shelters and civic organizations.
- Truth or Tradition: What is an Evangelist?
- Freedom Ministries International: How to the Evangelist?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 21-2011 Clergy
- Resumes and Career Portal: Evangelist Resumes
- Forbes.com; A Conversation With Joel Osteen; Jesse Bogan; June 2009
- ABC News; A Day Spent With Evangelist Joyce Meyer; April 2010
- InPlainsite.org: Tele-Evangelist Lifestyles