Joshua W. Randol | Levelland, TX
If a minister is working a secular job, he should take advantage of the companies that offer a match on their 401(k). This is free money and is also compounded interest that needs to be taken advantage of as soon as possible. Simply put, the sooner you invest, the sooner you will not have to invest. The younger a minister retires, the better.
I believe it would be beneficial if local churches took it upon themselves to allocate a small amount or an allowance of that church’s income to some type of retirement plan. I personally have two forms of retirement. First is the MRF (Ministers’ Retirement Fund) that is offered through the UPCI. This fund has yielded me a much higher percent than that of an average Edward Jones or Fidelity account. This could be due to my constant research and making sure my allocations are at their highest potential. The second vehicle I use is an IUL. This is a whole life insurance that, upon maturity, an individual can withdraw policy loans that serve as an income, along with a life insurance benefit for your loved ones left behind.
David Sanzo | Manassas, VA
A minister should begin saving for retirement as soon as possible because it is easier to “do without” at age thirty than seventy-five. This can include Roth IRAs, 401(k), or other retirement vehicles, whether through secular employment, self-employment, or with the church. He may consider the church contributing to retirement even before taking a salary – if other income is sufficient. This way, when he transitions to full-time ministry, the retirement question is already settled. This also conditions the church to plan long term financially, rather than living paycheck to paycheck. Prioritizing retirement by saving early relieves stress from falling further behind as we approach retirement age, and from forcing a church to choose between supporting a retired pastor and a new pastor.
Chris Copeland | Joshua, TX
I do not feel that Social Security will be sufficient for retirement, and recommend that all pastors have a separate retirement planning process. I contribute monthly to a Roth IRA for both my wife and myself.
I would recommend that the bylaws make a statement about retirement with a recommendation for retirement planning and deter the expectation that the pastor would receive pay from the church in perpetuity. With the exception of a founding pastor, the local assembly should not be expected to pay a pastor after their tenure.
Tim Doran | Harlingen, TX
I think if the church is at the size that it can afford to do some type of retirement for the pastor, it should provide it. I think a lot of the time the pastor is trying to advance the church first and will do so at any cost to himself. If the pastor isn’t careful, when he’s too old to continue, there will be nothing left for him to retire with. I think it’s important that young pastors ask for, listen to, and act on the good financial advice of their elders. Let them speak to you from their experiences. Don’t be afraid to “prosper” from the work and labor that you put into the church. Of course, as you “prosper,” don’t put the church in financial ruin, either.
Stephen Drury | St. Louis, M
The Word of God makes it clear that we should plan for retirement. This includes pastors. To accomplish this goal as a pastor, there typically needs to be a formal plan in place established by the church. The question is how this is placed in the legal structure of the church. Should the pastor’s retirement planning be placed in the church’s bylaws? If not, where? It is actually NOT recommended that a pastor’s retirement be included in the bylaws. Why? Every time the compensation percentage or amount is changed, it must go before the entire church congregation for approval, as any bylaw change requires. This could create awkwardness for both pastor and saints. The best way to accomplish this savings plan for the pastor is for the church board of trustees to handle the situation. They can review the budget annually, and that includes salary, benefits, and retirement savings.
This goes beyond just saving for a pastor’s retirement, however. This also releases the church from any future guilt of not providing for the pastor’s retirement when he/she ages and needs to retire. Many pastors who have not provided for retirement find themselves at the age to quit, but must continue as they have no other way to survive financially. This can be detrimental to the church, as the aging pastor may no longer be able to meet the needs of the congregation. As with all financial matters, a little planning and foresight can save from struggle and lack in the future.
Joel Hammond | Kingsville, TX
A pastor or minister should find a 403(b) or annuity to invest in as soon as possible. The church can also invest a portion of tithes for retirement, but many churches are not large enough. If the pastor or minister is bi-vocational, they should take advantage of investment opportunities through their employment.
Kevin Goodwin | North Bend, OR
Social Security is definitely not adequate for retirement. Personally, I am a chaplain with a hospice agency. I receive a monthly stipend for my work. I contribute 50% of that income to a 401(k)-plan offered by the company. Additionally, my wife works full-time and contributes to two different retirement plans through her employer. Our church board approved a resolution for me to contribute to a retirement plan through the UPCI, but as of this date, that contribution has not been finalized. Church bylaws should include provisions for retirement. The Stewardship Department of the UPCI can probably provide guidelines for what those provisions should be, but getting financial and legal counsel locally is probably a good avenue to pursue in setting up provisions.
Daren Davis | Eclectic, AL
Obviously, every congregation is at a different place financially. Many pastors are bi-vocational, receiving little to no salary from their congregations. For those that do enjoy compensation for their service, a “retirement” plan could certainly be beneficial in reducing the stress of the retiring pastor. Early investment in the inevitable is certainly the choice of wise men. Debt is the master of men and ministries. Live below your means and remain as close to “debt free” as possible.