How Ministers Can Respond to Financial Pressures

Frustrated. Many problems.By Michael C. Mack

CT Pastors recently reported, “Today, 90 percent of pastors feel financial stress in their family and church work, 76 percent of pastors know other pastors who left the ministry due to financial pressures, 31 percent of pastors work a second job to help make ends meet, and almost 60 percent of pastors do not receive health insurance or retirement funds from their church.”

We asked pastors: What would help, or what would have helped you in responding well to these circumstances? Here are a few of the responses:

“Some problems, not all by any means, could be helped by better information and financial info taught at the Bible college level. Teaching guys how to handle money before they jump into ministry would help.”
Jay Hardison, lead minister at Plymouth (North Carolina) Church of Christ

“Don’t opt out of Social Security without a firm retirement plan in place (not just a hoped for retirement).”
Robert Szoke, senior minister at Impact Christian Church, Greater Chicago area

“I learned some time ago it is not always how much [money] that comes in that matters as much as how much [money] that goes out. As one who transitioned from the business world before full-time Bible college and ministry, I was quickly and continually shocked at how undereducated ministers are in managing both personal and business finances. . . . Financial Peace University or something similar should be a requirement for all ministry students.”
Eric Allen, senior minister at Bluff Creek Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana

“Remember your calling to ministry. Practice gratitude. Set clear boundaries when working a second job. Remember that your congregation is filled with people working multiple jobs or 70-hour weeks. Don’t buy into the lie that ministry is the most difficult job; be thankful for the people you get to invest in, books you get to read, etc. Learn to take control of your finances and not solely rely on your church to do it for you.”
Michael Brown, founder, Insight Leadership Group, and lead minister at Thrive Christian Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas

“Some things that might help are to minimize your debt load, especially student loan debt from Bible college/seminary, but also credit cards, auto loans, etc. . . . While I agree that ministers need to be educated on how to handle finances, I also think churches need to be educated on what is fair compensation in the 21st century given the education, experience, skill set, character, etc., they are expecting in a minister.”
James McMillion, pastor at Petersburg (Illinois) Church of Christ.

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