Chris Miller, President of Miller Management, is the host of this week’s episode. He is joined by his colleague, Laura Murphy, Director of Development (or Generator of Generosity) at the Missouri United Methodist Foundation.
The first episode in this series was on investing and planned giving in churches, then focused on discussions surrounded a healthy perspective on money in the church and if a Pastor should or shouldn’t look at individuals giving. We continued the conversation with giving our money and assests in a way that aligns with God’s will. And in a way that is tax friendly. Next up, we talked about the financial stresses faced by pastors. And today, we want to spend a moment on generosity.
A 2019 Church Tax Law article found that over 2/3 of the pastors surveyed were concerned about retirment. 54% said their salaries and benefits don’t provide a strong enough base for their families. And a little under half said they don’t have the ability to save on a regular bases, which causes worries.
Ministers have the opportunity to opt out of social security in their first year, as long as you have a moral obligation. Which would leave you with no retirement or insurance. Inside the Methodist church, they don’t have the option to opt out of the insurance or pensions that you are given.
At Miller Management we don’t advise pastors to opt out; with the attitude that hopefully that helps you continue to be generous with your money, even in retirement. Or you can care for your family if there is an accident that insurance could’ve covered, but you have opted out of that care. Christians should be setting the tone, leading the way, lighting the path to taking care of people.
At Miller Management we have a saying surrounding fraud, “We can be the benchmark that people look to, or the excuse that people use.” What if the church showed the better way.
As a congregation, we’d encourage you to first of all, be aware. See what is happening with your pastors and ask questions or speak up in meetings. How are we showing appreciation? Creating a culture of generosity is a great way to show that you care.
Get to know your Pastor on a personal level, and it will make it easier to find ways to be generous in a better opportunity. Whether that is financial, coaching, mentorship, etc. Our guest speaks about asking the question, “Is it well with your soul?” And that is truly a way to show your generosity.
Have in your yearly budget to look at the funds for your people. Everything in the church needs money. But if you are putting your money to care for your pastor first, everything else will be taken care of. If you don’t take care of your staff, there will probably be struggles. This is financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We expect ongoing education for theology, why don’t we have that for financial integrity as well?
When there isn’t enough money in the budget, these are always the times that spurs creativity. Don’t hear us say that more money can solve all problems, because sometimes it can create more problems! What we need to be asking is “how can we help our pastor succeed?”
Tools from the Foundation
MUMF has a Lily Grant and they are big in clergy financial well-being. This can help pay off debt, or help in financial crisis, with a simple application. Your congregation doesn’t have to know that you even applied for this grant.
Financial well-being also includes coaching for each quarter for one year. Sometimes people can be wary of this kind of help, but coaches have seen great benefits of this. For married pastors, this coaching is required for both spouses and our guest commented that she has some beautiful stories of how this specific act has saved or helped many marriages.
Another tool the foundation supplies is the Saving Grace financial assistance, through Aberdeen Press – specifically for clergy. This course is similar to the very popular Financial Peace course, but this one is written by a Methodist, for the Methodist church.
We need healthy pastors leading healthy churches to advance the kingdom. Financial stability is just one of those ways of health. We would encourage you to reach out to your area foundation or utilize one of the organizations we mentioned in this series.
Special thanks to our guest, Laura Murphy, and our masters of all things Podcasting, Chris and Lauren Miller, for this fifth episode in our Financial Planning series.