Feb 25, 2014

Outrageous Ministry Compensation

How much should ministers make? A reasonable middle-class salary? Something in line with what the members of the church earn? Maybe, like Jesus and the apostles, earn nothing or next to nothing?

Or how about, oh, say, $300,000.00 per year?

Check out the following link:


It is to a copy of payment information for payments made to certain church leaders, including Steve and Lisa Johnson, in December, 1996.

It shows the Johnsons earning a combined bi-weekly base salary of $3,692.13. Now, if you multiply that out a bit, it comes to $95,995.38 per year, just base salary. After you add in parsonage (they live rent-free in church-funded housing) and other benefits outlined in that document, the compensation package comes up to $11,793.45 every two weeks, which is $25,552.48 per month or a whopping $306,369.70 per year!

This blew my mind. I suspected it was extravagant but this just seems surreal.

That should give you an idea for how "the church" calculates pay packages. That was from back in the heyday when Kip McKean was still the undisputed leader of the ICOC. Now that Kip is leading the "new" church, the ICC, he has never given the slightest indication that compensation would change in the new church. Remember that when your leader is standing up front haranguing you about donating more and more money for missions and "special contribution". Missions money goes to pay "ministry costs," which mostly means minister salary. In this case, a very healthy $306,369.70 in one year!

Hmmm... Remember those church financial books that they always told you were "completely open" and that "anyone" could look at, down to "every last penny"? Except that you never met anyone in your whole life who had ever actually seen them? Makes you think a little bit now, doesn't it?

Update (1/27/14): It has been suggested that the parsonage portion of the paystub was monthly and not bi-weekly like the "gross pay" column, which would lower the total annual compensation a bit, but still an unconscionable amount to sponge out of the sacrifices of the many.

It has also been suggested that the Johnsons also received other compensation in this period in addition to this paystub - for example, separate payments for their roles as World Sector Leaders and in HOPE worldwide. In that case, their total annual compensation would likely be well above even the $300k figure.

In addition, they were able to receive reimbursement for many, many normal daily expenses, such as meals with disciples, meals with studies, meals with other leaders, fancy hotel rooms at conferences, driving to and from any church related activity, etc. The end result is that they earn many thousands more beyond stated salary and benefits, (and without taxes!)

Unfortunately, due to the opaque treatment of the finances in Kip's churches, we may never know most of the details.

Update 2 (1/27/14): A former WSL who is now in upper leadership in the ICC contacted me and seemed to confirm the salary figures stated above. He also told me that:
1. the leaders DO sacrifice. However,
2. the sacrifice of the leaders is "relative."

The "relative" nature of the "sacrifice" probably refers to the idea that certain ICC leaders could theoretically make more money working for corporate America rather than the ICC. (This was of the arguments that was used in the old ICOC to justify ridiculous levels of evangelist compensation.)

My conclusions:
1. The Johnsons, and other high leaders, did make the money described above, and
2. Kip has not "changed." In the future, Kip will continue using the carrot of super-high salaries for top leaders. Additionally, Kip and accomplices will continue doing everything possible to hide that very fact from the members whose contributions pay for every penny.

and, of course,

3. The ICC will never, ever stop asking for more and more money - no amount is ever enough.

So there you have it.


  1. Kip and Elena must be making a lot, given that they live in a condo in one of LA's wealthiest and costliest neighborhoods (http://cadebryant.blogspot.com/2010/11/lifestyles-of-rich-and-thomas.html). Do you know if they're still living there? Where they living there when you were in the church?

    1. Thanks for writing in and for posting the link! That does look like the place where I visited Kip in his home in 2011. I left shortly after, and know nothing about anything more recent.

    2. I have since written a blog post describing my visit to that same $650,000 luxury condo of Kip McKean's that you mentioned. And a bit of research suggests that yes, they are still living there. Thanks again.


  2. Karl-PLEASE (!!!) continue to blog and expose the abuses of the ICC. The McKeans HAVE NOT changed their tactics in using the congregation for their personal and financial gain. I was part of the ICOC and the ICC for several years. I witnessed first hand the coercion and brow beating members endure to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!!!

    It's disturbing to see the number of college students who quit school, single moms that go without, poor families unable to make rent, and financially struggling singles unable to find decent paying jobs because they are coerced and bullied into sacrificing their time, talents, and money for the "sake of the gospel..." Yet the McKeans' have and continue to live a lavish lifestyle (residing in an exclusive condo community in Marina Del Rey, all three of their kids went to private schools and into Ivy League colleges, staying in 4 star hotels during their travels around the world, etc.). The hypocrisy within Kip's movement is just too much.

    1. Yes, I was disturbed by that as a member for years, seeing how broke folk sacrificed to pay high salaries to leaders. I could never make peace with it. And the demands to GIVE GIVE GIVE always remind me of the CCR song that says, "And when you ask them, "How much should we give?" Ooh, they only answer More, more, more!"

  3. Playing devil's advocate for a moment:

    This document is for the CoC if I'm reading it right [not kip's movement], not the Icoc or the Icc. Even if this practice remains, this "evidence" is more or less is merely a trend among the "lovers of money" serving "two masters." If you are a follower of ANY of those 3 aforementioned "restoration" based churches, know this: You are making disciples (saving people per the Bible) however don't be surprised on judgment day if some of the leadership is corrupt.

    If you are someone who has set the Bible as your guide for life, the corruption of some up high still shouldn't stop your mission on the lower levels. There will ALWAYS be hypocrites, actors and corruption because we're all sinners. Let God handle those people. You just do the work required until called.