Take advantage of coaching networks available to pastors (yes, that may mean paying a coaching service for your long-term health in ministry). It’s an investment, not an expense, as seasoned ministers have years of advice for you.
• Participate in a financial acumen class (Financial Peace, Money Matters, any Larry Burkett program, and others).
• Take advantage of spousal insurance or retirement plans. (If your spouse is a teacher, maximize the benefit of retirement plans and paid health insurance.)
• Go bivocational. Many pastors doubt their ability to work in the marketplace, but they have a huge set of needed skills, such as writing, speaking, human resources, customer service, linguistics, counseling, and so forth.
• Ask your church to ease the financial burden by offering compensation in areas where you’re spending extra dollars (discretionary funds for books, taking folks to lunch, conference expenses, initial moving expenses for new ministers, and so forth).
• Negotiate salary demands per contract period. (Many churches hire “independent contractors” who sign a legally binding contract, so leverage this for the sake of your family.)
• Say no. If your work demands are far exceeding the dollars coming in, say no to certain demands and expectations and build a system of lay leaders around you (Ephesians 4) to help in ministry tasks.
—By Brandon Morrow, who is doing pastoral research on this topic. Morrow is lead pastor at Gateway Church in Benton, Arkansas (gatewaybenton.org), and cofounder of Preacher Prep (www.preacherprep.com).