How much should I expect to receive as an honorarium when I speak?
There are a number of factors which play into the answer to this question. Here are five things you need to consider when discussing your honorarium:
How long have you been speaking to students? Maybe even more importantly, how long have you been speaking to groups of students outside of your own church/student ministry. Typically, the longer you have been speaking “out of house”, the higher the honorarium.
What is your skill-level when communicating to students? Are you more of a beginning-novice, or would you be considered a “professional speaker”? By definition, a “professional” is simply someone who gets paid to do something or provide a service. Even if you spoke one time at a retreat and received a $50 honorarium, technically you would be considered a “professional.” However, how would those who have heard you communicate with students classify you? That will provide you the answer to the question of skill-level.
3. Speaking Schedule/Availability
Are you someone who travels to speak to students regularly or just once a year? If you only speak once per year “out of house”, you will probably command a smaller honorarium based on simple economics. If you have limited availability, but are in high demand, you will typically command a higher honorarium or speaking fee.
Do you have a special expertise in a specific area? Maybe you are an expert on creation-science, student leadership, or relationships… If so, you will tend to earn a higher honorarium based on the fact that you are an “expert” in your field.
What is the speaking budget of the host organization or for the event? While you might command $500 per talk normally, if the event planner can’t afford you, you’re out of luck.
Shouldn’t you just speak for free?
This is the age-old question of professional Christian speakers. Many will say, “Just trust God and don’t charge anything!” While others insist, “You must be compensated for the perceived value of your time!”
In 1 Timothy 5:17-18, the apostle Paul writes:
17 The elders<span class=”crossreference” style=”font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;” value=”(W)”> who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor,<span class=”crossreference” style=”font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;” value=”(X)”> especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”and “The worker deserves his wages.”
If you are taking the time to prepare, travel, and minister to a group of students (not your own), you should probably be compensated for it. Call it a speaking fee or honorarium, the fact of the matter is you should be paid.
How much should you charge for a speaking fee or expect to receive as an honorarium?
Depending on your answers to the factors mentioned above, your honorarium can range any where from $25 per talk up to $3500 per talk. Talk about a huge variance in fees! Christian youth speakers come in all shapes and sizes. Many are currently full-time or part-time youth pastors and are only speaking on the side (a few times a year). Some are full-time, traveling “professional speakers” or “youth evangelists” who depend on speaking fees and a full speaking calendar to make a living.
Considering the five factors mentioned previously, assume that for each of those categories, there is a range of $100 – $500 per category (depending on where you fall on each scale).
For example, take a look at “Adam.” Adam is a full-time student pastor, who is speaking at an average “Weekend Retreat” (assuming he is the main/keynote speaker and is speaking at 3-4 main sessions):
Adam has been in student ministry for 15 years. At $100/5 years of experience, Adam should expect to receive a total of $300 for experience.
Adam is a fairly accomplished speaker. He is engaging, impactful, and students typically ask to have him back the next year. $400 for Adam’s speaking skills.
Adam only speaks “out of house” a few times per year. His schedule is somewhat flexible and he’s not that “in-demand” of a speaker. $100 for Adam’s availability around his full-time student ministry.
Adam is an average youth pastor. General Bible knowledge, but definitely a “expert” with teenagers and youth culture. $200 for Adam’s expertise.
The church that is planning the retreat budgeted $1000 for a speaker. Adam will be a perfect fit!
Isn’t it greedy to discuss money?
Only if money is your motive for preaching the Gospel to students. It is actually very wise to discuss financial expectations UP FRONT, before you commit to speaking at an event. I use a “SPEAKING REQUEST FORM” to communicate expectations right up front. Honorarium is ALWAYS NEGOTIABLE for both parties.
Should I speak for free?
That’s up to you. Speaking for free can do wonders for you as you hone your speaking skills through experience. It can also help you network with other youth groups, youth leaders and event planners who may have a need for your expertise down the road. You never know when God will open a door for you!