A national advocacy organization for evangelical churches has launched a national campaign for churches to better support pastors who face financial struggles.
The "Bless Your Pastor" campaign from the National Association of Evangelicals includes free resources for church leaders, staff and members who want to help pastors who are financially strained beyond what often-limited church budgets can provide.
Despite the prominence of some TV or megachurch leaders, most pastors in America work in congregations of less than 100 people, said Brian Kluth, national director of NAE Financial Health. They work more than five days and 40 hours a week, he said.
A July 2015 survey supported by NAE found that out of more than 4,000 predominantly white rural and suburban pastors, half made less than $50,000 a year and around one-third have student loan debt of $36,000 on average. The survey also found that many church leaders are not familiar with financial resources and planning.
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Bless Your Pastor aims to raise awareness about the financial decisions pastors must make and empower churches with strategies to help beyond the pastor salary. Strategies promoted in the campaign include sharing skills such as auto repair and child care with the pastor, taking special offerings to help and giving gifts such as prepared meals or gift cards.
The campaign is open to all churches. The NAE is connected to more than 40 denominations, including the Church of God and Church of the Nazarene.
The Bless Your Pastor campaign is funded by a $1 million, three-year grant from Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based community development and religion philanthropy. Previously, Lilly Endowment partnered with the Church of God in 2017 to train 300 pastors in financial management and provide each with a $3,000 gift.