LENDING MORE THAN A HAND: CARE CELEBRATES ONGOING IMPACT
Burnout is a very real danger for pastors in their early years of ministry, but a primary perpetrator is more practical than people may realize. In the face of statistics that show nearly 50 percent of pastors have felt like throwing in the towel due to financial stress, the Church of God has played an integral role in changing the story. Though 2020 was a rough year for almost everyone, it was another year of celebration for the Clergy Advocacy and Resource Effort (CARE). Thanks to the Lilly Endowment and the generosity of the Church of God, the practical and spiritual wins celebrated in the lives of pastors Movement-wide in 2020 are on track to accelerate into the new year.
CARE, which offers finance and compensation coaching with pastors individually and church boards/finance committees, has developed quite a track record of tangible impact since its inception in 2016. In just five years, the program has provided varying forms of coaching to 405 pastors, offered 436 financial assistant grants to early-career pastors, and provided compensation structure coaching to 58 church boards. In total, over a million dollars has been given to pastors toward retiring educational debt and establishing retirement accounts. What’s more, the diversity of assistance is worth a closer look.
Consider the composition of the 2020 CARE Cohort of pastors and churches. Among the 44 participating congregations, nearly a third of the pastors are African-American and almost 10 percent are Hispanic. Of the 59 participating pastors, nearly 30 percent are female.
“We were thinking about bankruptcy,” one pastor explained. “The [CARE] process worked. We now have hope.”
Other pastors note the impact of CARE on the ability to pay off mortgage debt, car loans, credit cards. Still others have taken tremendous strides in paying off student debt. Reflecting on how CARE has done more than lend a hand for struggling ministers, one fourth-generation pastor observed that CARE has “set [them] up for long ministry health.”
The 2021 CARE Cohort continues to form and promises ongoing impact. This good-news story is, with great anticipation: to be continued!
Learn more about CARE—a partnership between Church of God Ministries and Servant Solutions—at www.jesusisthesubject.org/care.