The life of a pastor is not easy. A pastor can be called upon 24/7, often blurring time boundaries and subtracting rest. Many people would agree: pastors can easily give more than they receive.
Ted Dankovich is the Director of Finance & Operations at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and a part of his job is to make sure his church staff is cared for well.
“The role of a pastor is a high calling,” Ted began. “God has ordained pastors to preach, care for the flock, and lead honorably. Ruling elders and deacons are entrusted with the responsibility of biblical stewardship to provide for the financial welfare of pastors and their families.”
Ted, who is a PCA Retirement & Benefit, Inc. board member, consults the PCA Call Package Guidelines for best practices on how to create a call package. A call package outlines the compensation and benefits a church offers to a pastor, similar to that of a compensation package for lay staff members. He has advised churches across the southeast on how to best care for their pastor. “Some call packages are more comprehensive than others,” Ted said. “Often it’s a matter of available resources and trusting that the Lord will provide to meet the needs of a pastor and his family.
The following are five items that Ted recommends all call packages should include.
A housing allowance provides a substantial tax benefit for ordained ministers, providing a pastor the opportunity to exclude a portion of his salary from taxable income. Pastors who live in a church-owned manse, rent a home, or own a home, may be eligible to receive a housing allowance upon Session action accepting the pastors written housing allowance request.
“The IRS places limitations on the amount that can be designated as a housing allowance,” Ted said. “It is important for ministers to be aware of these limits and to plan for and manage this tax-free benefit wisely.”
Healthcare is an essential benefit that provides for medical coverage for a pastor and his family. Often when health insurance is limited, people tend to forego preventative medical treatment, potentially leading to future medical conditions requiring expensive treatments.
Healthcare, however, can be expensive and unpredictable. “It is important that both churches and ministers look for opportunities to manage costs,” according to Ted. “For ministers, this means ensuring you and your family are living a healthy lifestyle. For churches, this means being actively engaged in finding cost-effective healthcare solutions.”
Consider a group health care plan if your church has more than one full-time employee.
Mental health allowance
Who counsels the shepherd? A mental health allowance gives pastors the chance to receive care and work through various life issues. Many Sessions overlook including affordable access to a counselor as a benefit for their pastor.
“Imagine there is a pastor with home life or personal issues,” Ted began. “Who do they turn to, an Elder? Other pastors? Private Counseling? Pastors often feel it can be risky to seek counsel about personal issues from their congregation or even in their community. It can be challenging for pastors to find a ‘safe place’ where they can seek counsel. A qualified counseling resource gives a pastor a chance to seek third-party help.” RBI facilitates access to Servant Care as a counseling resource for PCA teaching elders and their spouses as a ‘safe place’ of counsel.
The biblical principle of rest and refreshment is exemplified in the Sabbath, which is a day of ministry for our pastors. A sabbatical leave is defined as an extended time of paid, planned rest and renewal during which a pastor seeks personal and professional enrichment.
“Sure, there is vacation and shorter-term leave, but a sabbatical is designed to give pastors extended leave of absence focused on spiritual growth and refreshment,” Ted said. “A Sabbatical should be available a minimum of once every seven years. Pastors come back recharged, revitalized, and ready to serve their congregation.”
Financial risk products
Financial risk policies, such as short-term or long-term disability and life insurance, are not expensive and provide valuable financial protection for both the pastor and the church.
Disability and Life Insurance are cost-effective solutions that provide ongoing financial assistance to a minister’s family when a life event results in a loss of income. “A great way a church can provide for a pastor is to care for his spouse and family,” Ted said. “By covering your pastor with life insurance and financial risk products, the church can effectively provide for a pastor and their family and avoid a time of financial crisis.”
A comprehensive call package is one way a Session can provide for their pastor as the pastor shepherds the flock. Call the PCA RBI office to learn more about creating an optimal call package, or download the PCA Call Package Guidelines.
Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.