The Financial Health Team has been honored to serve hundreds of pastors through financial grants and educational resources. Through its work, the team has identified a concerning trend.
“We have heard many reports of pastors who have taken large pay cuts due to inflation and COVID-19,” said Tammy Tervooren from the Financial Health Team. “If temporary, and with sufficient savings, many pastors can weather these pay cuts. However, if the compensation is not returned to normal within a few months, the decrease in pay can be devastating to pastors and their families. We want churches to be mindful of the pastors first call to their family and be compassionate and respectful of their needs.”
Ira Antoine, director of Bivocational Ministry for Texas Baptists, shared, “It is important both pastors and churches make an honest assessment of their financial situation and needs. For varying reasons, some churches are no longer able to fully-fund a pastor position, which means they may need to consider transitioning from a fully-funded position to a bivocational position. Pastors must ensure their families' needs are met. It is a biblical mandate.”
Pastor Ryan Michels, from the Cleburne area, shared the impact of gaining additional financial support for his family through his work in law enforcement.
“Well, for me, I’ll never forget one pastor/mentor who said, ‘Look, it’s a slow death. Your ship is slowly sinking. You can do nothing about it, or you can do what God has given you the ability to do and go work and provide for your family.’ For me, I never thought of that as an option,” Michels said. “The financial stress was so heavy on our home that when we were able to bring in more money by making the change to bivocational work to get out of debt, the freedom to serve without carrying that was huge.
“Sometimes we miss opportunities of being bivocational because they look a lot like work, because they are, Michels continued. “You’re doing full time two times. It’s not the easier road, but it is an option, and it is a good option because it gets us around lost people, gets us out in the world and engages our community, and it provides for our families.”
Pastor David Derry, from the Houston area, said that through his work as a barber, he felt better knowing he wasn’t putting all of the family’s financial needs on his wife. For him, his bivocational work was about him helping his family as best as he could. Through his work, he was able to minister and walk people down the Roman Road who would never have walked into his church.
Through the Financial Health Team, pastors experiencing financial challenges can meet with a financial counselor for free to discuss the best options for their family and apply for a Minister's Financial Health Grant. Our staff is also available to answer the church’s questions about compensation planning for their ministers and staff. Ira Antoine, Texas Baptists Bivocational Ministry director, is also available to talk with churches and pastors about potentially making the transition to bivocational pastorates. In our next blog, we’ll explore some of the impacts of bivocational ministry on the church.