Personal Finances for Pastors

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.

Personal Finances for Pastors – part one

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. Last week, 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. Today we are going to spend some time talking about the financial stresses faced by pastors.

A 2019 Church Tax Law article found that 90% of ministers had some sort of financial stress. Whether that is do to lack of funds, lack or retirement, or just lack of knowledge. So today we want to talk about where some of the stress comes from.

Financial Education

Our guest says that there is really an epidemic of financial stress across cultures, ages, and denominations. She believes that we need more education for everyone involved about what money can do for you.

She has also seen that pastors come in with a significant amount of debt and then get very low paying jobs. Another issue may be that folks don’t have financial security early on. Pastors want to give and help others, even when they don’t have the financial means to help themselves.

It becomes this perfect storm of overwhelm, helping, and not putting the time into education. Our guests jokes about the standard line of “they don’t teach you that in seminary,” but Laura wants to know if we are doing enough to help our high school students and college age students. We can’t just throw the seminary under the bus.

Another thing that sometimes goes along with this lack of education is the guilt or shame that a Pastor may have if they don’t have their personal finances under control. They may not be willing to sit next to their congregants in a Financial Peace University class for example. Even if they know they need to. The Foundation is looking for ways to provide classes for Pastors with other Pastors so they don’t feel that shame quite so much.

How the Congregation Can Help

Something to note for lay people in the congregation, is to be wary of saying things like “If the Pastor doesn’t have good finances, how can they financially lead our church?” Or be shocked and feel shame if their Pastor has to take on a second job. Those things don’t help ministry. Instead, we need to lovingly support them in whatever decisions they need to make. A generous act may be looking for ways to get the Pastor what they need. A class without shame. Words of encouragement for living the bi-vocational life.

Sometimes there are mismanagement issues, but sometimes it really is a lack of funds. Maybe there is something that the church can do – figure out a way to pay better or provide better benefits. Or maybe they can find other tangible ways to bless the Pastor. Can the youth group come over and trim trees, mow the lawn, or babysit for a date night? Those are all very tangible ways of blessing the Pastor.


Expectation is key. If there isn’t enough money in the budget for a full-time minister, maybe the Pastor is not expected to work full-time. Then, if they are wanted, that Pastor would be free to get a second job, or maybe provide an opportunity to stay at home while their spouse works; whatever their unique situation may be.

This is something that is mostly un-heard of in the business world. Lower pay and still require high production or long hours. Don’t we want to bless our Pastors and do better for them than the world does? The church has such an opportunity to love on their Pastors and provide care for them and their families. Let’s not miss it.

Coming Up

Join us next week as our hosts continues the conversation with Laura Murphy about Personal Finances for Pastors.

Join the conversation, see behind the scenes, and learn more on our Instagram and X pages.

Special thanks to our guest, Laura Murphy, and our masters of all things Podcasting, Chris and Lauren Miller, for this fourth episode in our Financial Planning series.