It’s hard to have a healthy church without a healthy pastor. It’s one of the many reasons why, in 1 Timothy 5:17-18, Paul urges churches to provide care for their pastors as they fulfill their calling.
Paul recognized that the health of a church is directly linked to the wellbeing of its pastors and their families—including their physical, spiritual, and emotional health. And yet, an often overlooked aspect of pastoral care is their salary and benefits package—also known as a Call Package.
Call Packages should be designed with the whole person in mind. But more often than not, churches and lay leaders feel unequipped to put together a comprehensive package that covers the four essential elements: compensation, retirement, insurance, and wellbeing. Each element plays an important role in nurturing a healthy pastor, a healthy family, and a healthy church.
Thankfully, Geneva’s team of dedicated experts and ministry leaders is here to help.
Just ask Bryce Hales and the team at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
“The numbers didn’t seem like they could work.”
In 2022, Trinity Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo, CA, began the search process for a new pastor. After weeks of interviewing candidates, the search committee zeroed in on a wonderful pastor named Bryce Hales. A California native, Bryce had previously served in college ministry and church planting contexts in California, Utah, and Colorado.
When it came time to assemble a Call Package, Bryce and the Trinity session encountered several challenges, the most significant of which was the soaring cost of living in the area. As a result, both parties needed some guidance.
“As I prayed about a new call, I wondered whether the transition was financially feasible for our family,” said Bryce. “The numbers just did not seem like they could work.”
Thankfully, Bryce reached out to Paul Chi, a Financial Planning Advisor at Geneva. As a former pastor himself, Paul is keenly aware of both the value of a comprehensive Call Package and the many budgeting challenges sessions face.
After speaking to Bryce, Paul did some research to determine the cost of living in the San Luis Obispo area and what a realistic package would look like for him and his family of six. Next, he presented his findings to the Trinity session and helped them brainstorm ways they could incorporate Bryce’s salary and benefits package into the church’s budget.
In this way, Paul served as a go-between, a helpful third-party who could both advocate for Bryce and collaborate with the Trinity session.
One ruling elder described the process this way:
“We wanted to make sure we paid [Bryce] enough to live in our very expensive community. Geneva helped us design a compensation package that increased both salary and benefits in light of the unusually high current rates of inflation. It was a stretch for our church, but God has always provided for us, and we were willing to make that stretch to care for our pastor and his family.”
“I’m so thankful for the ministry of Geneva”
Chris Zurbach had a unique vantage point on the situation.
As the Director of Philanthropy & Marketing at Geneva, a member of Trinity for seven years, and a member of the pastoral search committee, she could see the issue from all sides.
“I think that’s one of the challenges [for pastors],” said Chris. “When you’re going through an interview process, there are a lot of things you’re coordinating. Is this a good fit for our family? For your pastoral call, you’re thinking about the church. And then it comes down to the nuts and bolts—is this actually doable? Are we going to be able to live there?”
Thankfully, with Paul’s help, the Trinity session put together a Call Package that worked for Bryce and his family, and he was officially installed as Lead Pastor this past fall.
For his part, Bryce was grateful about the support he received.
“I’m so thankful for the ministry of Geneva!” he said. “Their guidance helped us through this process, and they made it possible for the church to call me as their pastor.”
Through it all, Chris sees Trinity’s story as a living testament to Geneva’s mission.
“One of our taglines is, we serve because they served,” she said. “We just want churches to know that we exist to really help people who are serving in ministry. We want to do those things that enable them to focus on their ministry and ease their administrative burdens. We’re here to serve. Everyone should be reaching out to Geneva.”
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.