The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) launched a campaign last week to help churches more effectively serve their pastors. Recognizing that many people in Christian leadership “face significant financial challenges,” the “Bless Your Pastor” campaign aims to raise awareness about those needs and assist church members in meeting them.
“Having been a pastor myself, with three children and a wife who needed major medical treatments, I understand the financial struggles many pastors and their families face—and the tremendous difference it makes when a congregation shows their pastor they are there for them, all the way, sharing God’s love and blessings in practical ways,” says Brian Kluth, the spokesperson for Bless Your Pastor.
Bless and Support Your Pastor
Lilly Endowment Inc., a private philanthropic foundation, has given a $1 million, 3-year grant to fund the campaign, which, according to the Bless Your Pastor website, “empowers congregations to creatively care for their pastors.” The movement is open to all churches and, while targeted at pastors, the website notes that churches might choose to bless church staff as well. The Bless Your Pastor movement is based on 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and Galatians 6:6 and offers a number of free resources, including a Bless Your Pastor toolkit, online courses about financial health, and “50 Creative Ways to Show God’s Love for Your Pastor and Staff.”
According to the Times Free Press, some of the ways the campaign encourages people to serve are through providing child care, car repairs, and free gift cards for meals.
Why This Campaign?
It’s easy for congregations to be unaware of the significant financial sacrifices many church leaders make. The Bless Your Pastor website says that pastors often have a 50- to 60-hour workweek. Half of pastors make less than $50,000 per year, and 60 percent of pastors receive no benefits (such as healthcare, retirement, etc.) from their churches. And this is not to lay the blame on churches, which often have limited budgets. Bless Your Pastor reports that half of all churches have a yearly budget under $125,000.
The Bless Your Pastor website tells the story of a man God called to ministry when he was in his 50s. He and his wife spend a combined total of 100 hours per week ministering to the 75 people in their church body, all for $40,000 per year. Yet they are dedicated to their church because, the pastor says, “God called us to this church and we love these people.”
Pastor Dwight Henderson told the Times that finances are a constant stressor for him and his congregation of 50. Even though his church would give him a raise if he asked for one, Henderson said he would never do that because it would mean the church would have to neglect other needs, such as repairing the building or parking lot. “I know the church struggles with budget,” he said. “The men of our church that I would deal with want to be more than generous. They want to be more than kind. And I think that is the same way at a lot of churches. I would never let them pay me to the neglect of other things.”
Henderson also told the Times it would be erroneous to think that pastors of large churches are free from financial struggles. Being larger comes with the expenses of maintaining a larger facility and staff.
Ministry leaders all over the world make daily sacrifices out of love for God and others. Bless Your Pastor wants to serve those leaders in turn: “By inspiring believers to bless their pastors and providing them with free resources, we can create an outpouring of generosity in our communities for those who faithfully lead and teach the Word of God.”