During the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Greensboro last month, I attended a workshop led by Bo Prosser, CBF Coordinator of Organizational Relationships, and Gary Skeen, President of the CBF Church Benefits Board. They announced the launch of an initiative by CBF to address the economic challenges facing pastoral leaders which is largely funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation.
One of the most striking parts of the meeting was the report of a survey of 642 pastoral leaders on the topic. Four pressing concerns were identified from this data.
First, those surveyed carried a heavy debt load. Of those surveyed, 67 percent carry a debt that equaled up to two times their annual salary. Student loans or educational debt made up 41 percent of respondent debt.
Second, health benefits are limited. Forty-four percent of the participants did not receive medical benefits from their employers. Of this 44 percent, half were employed by a church with an annual operating budget of $101,000 to $500,000.
Third, retirement benefits are not being addressed. Three out of five participants did not feel prepared for retirement.
Fourth, financial advisement is lacking. Only one of four participants had met with a financial advisor to address these concerns (which is in itself a concern).
My recent blog on “The Topic Churches Avoid” on the economic challenges of ministers has received the most “hits” in three days that any of my posts have ever received. It is now the second most accessed post of the almost 1000 I have written. This touches a nerve. We have a problem, don’t we?
I applaud those who are attempting to address this challenge and encourage both pastors and church leaders to be proactive in addressing the topic we want to avoid.