“Ninety percent of pastors feel some level of financial stress in their family and church work.” That research finding, published by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) two years ago, also revealed that most evangelical pastors work in small churches and face significant financial challenges. For instance, about 30% of the pastors surveyed said that they have $0 in personal savings. Another 30% said that they have an average of $36,000 in student loan debt or under $10,000 in retirement savings. Helping pastors who face financial challenges has been a primary concern for FEC leaders, and now, through the Lilly Endowment fund, free resources to train and support pastors seeking financial health are available.
Over the past few years, the Lilly Endowment has begun to invest in resources to help pastors overcome their unique financial challenges. This year, Brian Kluth, NAE project Director for Pastor Finances, introduced the new resources to FEC pastors and leaders at the annual conference.
The program offers two six-month tracks: A personal finance track and a church leadership track. The personal finance curriculum is customized for each person and offers the best available resources for tackling and overcoming financial challenges. For the church leaders’ track, the pastor and elders watch a video and discuss ways to encourage generous giving. Since August, 26 pastors have signed up to take the courses, and one person has completed the course work. . When pastors complete the courses, they qualify for honorariums as well as grant program to help pay down student loans or build up retirement accounts.
For churches who want to know how to support their pastors in non-financial ways, NAE provides a resource, the “Bless Your Pastor” brochure. For church leaders, NAE has compiled a list of resources including many salary and benefits resources. Every pastor deals with the stress of ministry and spiritual warfare, so alleviating his or her financial stress should be something every church recognizes and helps to shoulder.