Helping provide for God’s Servants
April 4, 2006
Most pastors I have met are men who, like me, find it easy to ask people to give to others, but just cannot ask for one extra dollar of personal help. For if we did ask for help, it seems to come across as self-serving. I can ask for others; I just can’t bring myself to ask for me. I would imagine that 99% of our pastors are the same way with you and your church family.
Bob and Sara Hutchins served numerous country churches in southwest Missouri during more than 40 years of ministry. Like most pastors, they believed they would continue in ministry and preach all the days they drew breath. But the flesh finally gives way and they can’t minister, counsel or preach any longer. The churches enjoyed their ministry, but during those productive years did not think about the day their pastor would have to give up his pulpit ministry. By the time Bob retired in 1986, only one of those churches had contributed to his retirement account, leaving him a ministerial retirement benefit of just $57 a month. Even with a modest Social Security check, that’s not much to live on. An extra $265 a month through GuideStone Financial Resources’ Adopt An Annuitant program helps them get by.
Did you know that your Missouri Baptist Convention has annually contributed in the neighborhood of $63,000 to the Adopt An Annuitant Program? By doing so, 124 retired Missouri annuitants receive supplemental financial assistance through GuideStone. This supplemental income is given to those whose income is so low they just can’t make it. Many times these retirees have to choose between buying food or buying a prescription medication. These financial supplements are meant to care for those who have cared for God’s people.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. Would your church like to Adopt An Annuitant? You can. Call Gene Foster (800-736-6227 extension #330) and find out how. You will be blessed.
Church family, it is your responsibility to provide for God’s man. Are you doing it? You may be asking the question, “How can we provide for God’s man?” Here are just a few quick suggestions for consideration:
1. Be generous, generous to the point that you pay a living wage – at least the average wage of the community. Many pastors have several advanced degrees. Reward them for their preparation for ministry to you and your family. How much is the soul of your children worth? How much would you pay to the man who is directly responsible to help you, your children and grandchildren succeed in their marriages? How much is it worth to have a man teach you to know and apply the Word of God to your life?
2. If your church is small and your pastor is serving in a bi-vocational position, then be as generous as you possibly can. Don’t see how cheap you can get by.
3. If you have an evangelist or guest preacher come to your church, be generous with them as well. Most churches give little to visiting preachers. Make your church one that he will talk about in his sermons when he illustrates generosity! A good example in Scripture is the Shunnamite woman who provided generously for the man of God when he came to her town (2 Kings 8: 4-11).
4. Church, whatever you pay your pastor and staff, put 5% to 10% of your pastor’s salary into the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) retirement program (GuideStone Financial Resources) for him. Especially if he is a twenty-something-year-old and is fifty years from retirement. It is the magic of compound interest that makes those early dollars the ones that do the most good in retirement. Offer to match his personal contributions dollar for dollar up to 5% or more if you can.
5. Don’t just give your pastor a “salary package” that he can divide up the way he wants. Work with him and designate it into housing, medical plans, etc. Initially, it may be possible to put more take-home dollars into his pocket with little or no additional cost to the church. How can you do this? Ask Gene Foster (extension #330) and/or our controller, Jay Hughes (extension #370) from the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) staff to come meet with your personnel and finance committees. These men can be of great assistance to you.
6. Along life’s highway, be a blessing to your pastor and staff. Send them away on a weekend getaway. Send your pastor and his wife to a conference that will refresh their spirits and expand his vision … like First Baptist Church – Jacksonville, Florida’s pastor’s conference, Missouri’s State Evangelism Conference, the MBC’s Minister’s Juggling Act Retreat or something similar. Make investments in the ministry of your pastor and his family. The Scripture (Hebrews 13:17) says that when your pastor serves you with joy and not grief, it is profitable for you as well.
7. Did you know that the MBC contributes from its portion of the Cooperative Program an amount of money for every qualifying pastor and staff member to provide them with up to $100,000 of survivor protection benefits and $500 per month of disability insurance coverage? We call this the Protection Section. There are some qualifications that a church has to meet for this to happen. So call Gene Foster at (800-736-6227 extension # 330). He can explain the ministry program to you in detail.
Wouldn’t it be sad to spend our lifetime in such a way as to try to “get by as cheap as we can” rather than be known as a gracious and generous people? You can NEVER out-give God. He has told us, “Give and it shall be given to you … good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6).
But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Cor 8:7 NIV (also read: 1 Corinthians 9:9-11; 1 Timothy 5:18).