Texas Baptists received a $1 million grant in 2017 to participate in the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. These grants were awarded to a variety of organizations across the nation that are using them to help pastoral leaders develop stronger financial literacy skills and provide direct aid to leaders.
Recently, the Texas Baptists Center for Ministerial Excellence conducted a study of pastors that received a Ministerial Excellence Matching Grant to determine the grant’s impact. The study measured the impact of the grant on a pastor’s household finances, financial stress, retirement savings, non-retirement savings, financial skills and their ability to minister effectively.
“With the grant, and its educational requirements, our hope was that pastors would be encouraged to be better fiscal leaders in their church and their home,” said Tammy Tjierina, director of the Center for Ministerial Excellence, “but we wanted to make sure the program was working and achieving its aims which are to increase the financial literacy of pastoral leaders.”
Pastors who received the grant are required to meet with a financial counselor and attend a financial seminar titled “Giving Your Money Purpose” with a lay leader. The seminars cover personal and church budgeting, and the theology of stewardship.
In the study, 100 percent of pastors reported that the grant helped give them hope for their financial future.
“One hundred percent is very encouraging and we’re thankful that the grant has impacted our pastors in a positive way and given them hope for their financial future,” said Tijerina.
The increase in hope is paired with a marked decrease in financial stress. After the grant, the proportion of pastors experiencing either no financial stress or not much quadrupled.
All survey respondents also said the grant increased their practice of good financial habits.
93 percent reported a positive difference in their own confidence level when handling financial issues.
The use of a formal household budget increased by 59 percent.
The majority of grantees (64 percent), increased their non-retirement savings by an average of 362 percent.
75 percent increased their total savings by an average of 17 percent.
Over half of pastors receiving the grant decreased their total debt load.
“Seeing improvement in basic financial practices like utilizing a budget, saving, decreasing debt, and even tithing showed that the program is equipping pastors to be good stewards which will enable them to help those in their church,” Tijerina said.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents reported that the grant made a positive difference in how often they preach on financial or giving issues and 93 percent said the grant helped them in their ability to help church members with financial issues.
“The study affirmed our desire to expand the educational components of the grant to more pastors and church leaders,” Tijerina said.
Seminars are not just for grantees, but are open to all pastors and ministers. The cost is $10 per person to attend and the seminar materials are provided for each participant. To find a seminar in your area, visittexasbaptists.org/cme.
Any Texas Baptist pastor or minister can also be connected to a financial planner in their area that is available to help them work through their finances. Consultations with a financial planner are free for pastors and ministers.
“The study shows, more than anything, what Texas Baptists can do when we work together to support our pastors, use our gifts and talents to equip each other, and give generously to those in the body of Christ, especially those called to pastor and minister,” said David Hardage, Texas Baptists Executive Director. “We’re excited to continue serving our pastors and ministers with this grant.”