The National Association of Evangelicals, thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, plans to analyze the challenges that pastors face when trying to manage what are often meager salaries.
Evangelical pastors typically put their mission above financial gain. That’s not to say, however, that the difficulty of living within modest means isn’t being addressed.
As 2016 kicked off, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) announced that it is launching a multiyear initiative to assist pastors with the economic challenges that can come with their role.
The association is working closely with the Lilly Endowment, which last month made financial grants [PDF] to 28 religious organizations, including churches, dioceses, and nonprofit foundations. NAE itself received $1 million through the endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. (According to the endowment, the programs it is funding are tailored to the needs of leaders of each religious group.)
“Financial challenges often add stress to the already difficult and demanding role of pastors today,” NAE President Leith Anderson said in a news release. “We have had the desire to address this issue for a long time and are pleased to partner with Lilly Endowment on a topic that will directly impact the ministry of thousands of pastors across the United States.”
The funds granted to NAE aren’t going directly to pastors but rather will be used to design and implement sustainable programs that help NAE better understand the financial challenges of pastors, improve the organization’s financial programs, highlight educational programs and other resources available to pastors and their spouses, and provide financial resources for religious denominations.
“These organizations understand that these kinds of financial challenges can impair the ability of pastors to lead their congregations effectively. They recognize the importance of the financial well-being of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve,” Christopher Coble, the Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion, said in the media announcement [PDF].
With this new grant, NAE, which represents more than 45,000 local churches, hopes to change the conversation around, and perhaps remove, the financial frustration that can sometimes scare off those interested in becoming pastors.