The National Association of Evangelicals has launched a $1 million campaign designed to inspire congregants to “bless” their pastors at a time when 90 percent of pastors nationwide are facing financial pressure that could lead them to eventually departing from ministry.
Funded by a three-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, the 45,000-church association launched the initiative to help congregations and church boards “show and share God’s love” for their pastors in different ways beyond the church budget. Data shows that about half of pastors in the U.S. make less than $50,000 per year while serving their churches over 50 hours per week.
Because of financial difficulties, many pastors are forced to work side jobs to help make ends meet for them and their families while some leave ministry altogether.
“Bless Your Pastor is about people in the church sharing their time, talents and treasures to creatively bless their pastors and church staff members,” Brian Kluth, national director of NAE Financial Health and spokesperson for Bless Your Pastor, said. “Some examples can be babysitting, doing car repairs, offering low or no-cost medical and dental care, sharing a vacation home, and providing gift cards to the pastor and family.”
The Bless Your Pastor campaign will serve pastors and churches across America from all denominations and is part of a larger initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment to address the financial challenges of pastors.
“We are evangelical but this movement is for all churches across America,” Kluth, who regularly travels across the country speaking on pastor finances and a former pastor himself, said during a press call.
Kluth said that although the grant runs for three years, he assured that the NAE effort will continue on past that grant’s expiration. He said that as many as 12 different denominations are partnering with them on this effort.
“When you think about supporting pastors, some may think that pastors have a pretty easy job, they are pretty well paid. But the truth is very, very different,” Kluth said. “Some people think of a pastor and they think of a TV pastor or megachurch pastor and they see thousands of people and millions of dollars and big salaries. The reality of real-life pastors is very, very different.”
A 2015 survey of over 4,000 pastors from 19 denominational groups sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals found that most pastors and their families across the U.S. are operating with limited financial resources.
The survey found that 80 percent of pastors serve in churches of under 250 people on any given weekend and 55 percent serve in churches of under 100 people.
“In those churches, the average budget is $125,000 to take care of everything: the building, the missions giving, their pastor salary and programs for the kids and all that,” Kluth said. “So that is not a lot of money to go around.
In addition to half of pastors making less than $50,000 per year, nearly 60 percent of pastors do not receive retirement or healthcare benefits from their churches.
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Source: Christian Post