Published August 23, 2012
Seldom does the conversation continue very long before a ministerial friend of mine, Don Patterson, makes the following proclamation, “I am encouraged!”
We all need a little encouragement along life’s journey. A pastor, in particular, needs to be encouraged by his church. The church can encourage its pastor in many ways without creating an undue financial hardship on the congregation.
First, the church can encourage its pastor by reimbursing him for church-related ministry expenses. If the church adopts an accountable reimbursement plan for these expenses, then the pastor will not have to pay applicable payroll taxes on the reimbursement.
If the church provided for the pastor his church business travel expenses according to the IRS Publication 17 rather than the pastor covering these expenses personally, think of how much this church could encourage its pastor. In addition, imagine how encouraging it would be for the pastor to know his church cares enough about him to provide for this needed research expense as he prepares messages and has the needed background material to make his sermons more interesting and applicable.
Second, the church can encourage its pastor by providing adequate life insurance coverage. By providing ten to 20 times the pastor’s annual salary and housing allowance as a life insurance benefit, the church is declaring to the pastor that the fellowship values and cherishes him and his family.
Term life insurance coverage costs have become so affordable recently that a church could bless its pastor with this important benefit without over-taxing the church finances.
Third, the church can encourage its pastor by helping provide for his retirement needs. If the church could see the importance of creating a retirement plan for its pastor, that can help him meet his basic retirement needs. What an extra encouragement this benefit would provide.
If a church would contribute five percent of the pastor’s salary and housing allowance into a church retirement plan and then provided an additional five percent matching contribution based on the pastor’s personal contribution, what an encouragement a pastor would receive from his church.
Fourth, the church can encourage its pastor by doing something unexpected for his family. This might include something like giving the pastor and his family an extra week of vacation. (It would be wonderful if the church provided the pastor and his family an expense-paid vacation.)
The encouragement from the church could even be in the form of a partial scholarship for the pastor’s children to go to college. It might be that the church could provide a taxable benefit of covering the pastor’s wife’s expenses when they attend conferences, workshops, or conventions.
Fifth, the church can encourage its pastor by providing him the opportunity to continue his education by covering his tuition, fees, books, and equipment expenses. If the church established an IRS Section 127 educational assistance plan, the church could encourage its pastor and other full-time employees by providing up to $5,250?annually for employer-provided educational assistance.
Serving a church is not always easy. Every pastor can use some unexpected financial encouragement from time to time. These five ideas are simple ways for a church to encourage its pastor in not growing weary while serving in the Kingdom of God. “I am encouraged!”
Church Financial Services of the Georgia Baptist Convention is available to assist church leaders seeking to encourage their pastors. Resources are available through the Church Financial Service’s website www.churchfinancialservices.org, email email@example.com, or telephone (770) 936-5295 or (800) 746-4422.
a. To help the Internal Revenue Service audit churches
b. To build partnerships and relationships with churches and church employees to provide a biblical financial planning ministry of insurance, retirement, investment, estate planning, and tax matters
c. To sell financial products to Georgia Baptist Convention churches
a. Woodrow Wilson, creator of the modern income tax system in America
b. Douglas H. Shulman, 47th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service
c. Keith T. Hamilton, Georgia Baptist Convention state missionary
a. Selling autographed pictures of famous people like George Washington
b. Charging conference participants for attendance and materials
c. Giving through the Cooperative Program
a. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
b. Telephone (800) 746-4422 or (770) 936-5295
c. Visit www.churchfinancialservices.org
Correct answers: 1) Church Financial Services assists churches who are being audited by the IRS. Church Financial Services does not help the IRS audit churches. While Church Financial Services makes available products for sale, the products are generally sold on a cost recovery basis. Answer 1.b is correct. Church Financial Services’ purpose is helping churches with financial matters. 2) Keith T. Hamilton is the correct answer. 3) The Cooperative Program makes the Church Financial Services ministry possible. If churches did not give through the Cooperative Program, Church Financial Services ministry would disappear. 4) All of the answers are correct.
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