52 Ways: #9

52ways[1]Offer him* and his wife free sessions with a financial planning consultant who will help them budget and anticipate college education for children and for retirement.

News flash!  Your pastor didn’t go into ministry for the money.  And no, your pastor does not get to keep all of the money in the offering plate.

We all have bills.  We all know we need to save for the future.  Yet, the reality for many ministry couples is they are too busy just trying to get through this week’s round of appointments and next month’s obligations to give too much thought to what might happen 20, 30, or 40 years in the future.  I know I sure didn’t.

A quick Google search sites several studies that show that pastors make significantly less money per year than other professionals with similar educational backgrounds and skill sets.  Unless your church has a designated 403b plan (non-profit equivalent of 401k) it is probably a good bet that he or she could use a little help in the retirement planning and/or children’s college fund department.  Like anyone else just trying to make ends meet, most ministry couples would benefit from a few meetings with a financial planner.

So how do you broach the subject with your pastor without offending him or her?  Finances are a very private matter.  You don’t want to come across in a way that would suggest any judgment on your part. Here are a few tips for you.

If you are a church board member (and the other members agree) you could simply tell the pastor that you’d like to make a few sessions with a financial planning consultant part of his/her compensation package, if you don’t already have an automatic retirement plan (403b) in place (which, sadly is the reality of a majority of churches, especially with smaller congregations).

If you are a member of the congregation and would like to bless your pastor, then make an offer to pay for a few sessions.  You could explain how you have benefited by having a more formalized plan in place and you’d love to bless him/her and his/her family with such a gift.  Making an offer is just that – making an offer.  There is less risk of having your good intentions misconstrued this way.

Give him/her some seed money (like many grandparents do with savings bonds, etc.) and tell him/her you’d like to contribute to their retirement plan or their children’s college fund.  That money can be invested in mutual funds, IRA’s, or whatever means they choose.  You could even walk them through the opening of an account if you are very familiar with this type of thing.  Or, direct them to someone who can help (like a competent financial consultant).

The bottom line is this, we all know we should be contributing towards our futures –  but we don’t always follow through.  Your pastor (like me and possibly you, too) may just need that extra nudge to get the ball rolling toward a more secure financial future.

Any thoughts?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Any other suggestions?  I’d love to hear your input.

*I recognize that there are many women pastors and that all posts don’t apply equally to men and women in ministry.  I try to be gender neutral and when the use of he/she or him/her is too cumbersome we default to the masculine pronoun.  The reverse is true for referring to the pastor’s spouse.  I hope that you can read past these masculine and feminine pronouns to the spirit behind each post —- creative ways to be a blessing to those who serve us…..and their spouses.

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