Paying Your Guest Speaker

I Timothy 5:18 says “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”  No one should expect a guest speaker to speak at an event without paying them.  As you begin to plan for your event, immediate budget items should include your speaker’s honorarium and travel expenses.  If you are on a tight budget, it is best to find a speaker who is closer to home.

When you contact your potential guest speaker, one of the first questions you need to have answered is:  Does she charge for her services?  Don’t assume that all speakers are fine with a love gift or whatever you can afford.  Many speakers have a set charge because this is how they earn their living.

If the speaker does not have a set charge, we normally set the honorarium according to the number of times that she will be speaking.  It is hard to give a hard and fast rule for determining the honorarium, because so many factors come into play, including your location.  You may want to get a ball park honorarium amount from a nearby church.  Currently, our rule of thumb is between $100 and $125 per teaching.  For a retreat with three main sessions, that is about $400.  This is probably low compared to what larger churches pay.

Prepare the honorarium in advance.  Enclose it within a thank-you note and give it to your guest speaker at the end of your event.
More on honorariums here.

Posted in: Retreat and Event Planning, Your Guest Speaker

Leave a Comment (4) ↓


  1. Elizabeth July 29, 2013

    It seems unfortunate that we pay such a meager sum to a person we are entrusting an entire weekend’s message. We need to consider the preparation time, time away from family, travel, discomfort of a “retreat”, and the fact that a speaker is “on” and engaging with participants the entire weekend. We pay our babysitters more than what many of you are willing to pay a speaker for a weekend. Please begin to rethink what a speaker is worth!!!


    Debby Reply:

    Elizabeth, I agree with you! And we have further discussed this on this website, noting that things are different in other parts of the country regarding the “going rate” for a retreat speaker. For small churches with no budget, the cost of the retreat per person must equal the expenses of the retreat…and we must keep the cost down so women can afford to attend. It is truly a catch-22! Our prayer is that our speaker has been called by God to do this, and that He will bless them beyond measure, above and beyond our honorarium.


  2. M. Dianne Berry September 24, 2013

    I am trying to find out how to bring in someone to speak at my upcoming book signing which is highlighting the storyline/subject matter (abortion atrocities.)
    Is there a type of honorarium for this kind of testimony? Any help is appreciated. Thank you!


    Debby Reply:


    Hi! I’m sorry for getting back to you late–I hadn’t been on my website in over a week! That is out of my area of expertise. The speakers we deal with are not professional speakers; normally, they are pastors’ wives, who are willing to come for what we can afford, or they tell us their fees up front. I think you should probably check with someone else for this. I would recommend that you discuss it with the speaker up front, so there are no misunderstandings between you. Ask her if she charges for her services up front. Also take into account travel expenses and length of time you will have her speak.


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