Help Pastors & Professional Church Workers Focus on Ministry, and Not on Money
A Systemic Problem
In recent years, new pastors and other professional Church workers have been required to take on increasing levels of debt just to prepare for ministry. After all of their schooling, burdensome debt often exceeds income and leads to anxiety, problems at home, and cycles of shame. This is a complex, systemic issue. The resulting stress distracts both the servants of the Church and the congregations they serve. Ultimately, that keeps people from hearing the Gospel.
A Proven Solution
There is a remedy for situations like this, with more than 50 years of precedent. Since 1958, the U.S. government, state governments, professional associations and private institutions have successfully attracted and retained individuals in certain public service settings by establishing Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs). MinistryFocus was created to bring this proven solution to the Church.
LRAPs make it possible for talented individuals to pursue their calling in settings where they otherwise would not earn enough to pay back their loans. Familiar recipients are teachers and nurses working in the inner city. Simply put, LRAPs work on the principle that for each time period after graduation that an individual serves in a specified role and meets stated eligibility requirements, a stated percentage or amount of the educational loans assumed in order to meet that position’s educational requirements is either forgiven or reimbursed.
The MinistryFocus Fund for Pastors and professional Church workers is an LRAP specifically for pastors and other professional Church workers in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) who are overburdened by educational debt. Through the administration of this program, MinistryFocus aims to reduce the negative impact of burdensome debt upon ministry, and to enhance personal financial management among our professional Church workers. Furthermore, this LRAP may be the only way congregations in certain economically challenged communities can afford to call a pastor or other professional Church worker at all.
The first grants from MinistryFocus Fund will be made in 2015. The application process will be announced later this year; grant decisions will be made by a specially appointed committee. Eligibility criteria for receiving funds include:
- Demonstrated financial need based on educational debt
- Participation in an approved personal financial management program
- Participation by the applicant’s congregation in the program
- Recommendation by the applicant’s District President
These are complex issues that raise many questions. Our Fund is just part of the solution. MinistryFocus also provides information and research to help you form your own opinion about what leads pastors and other professional Church workers to have burdensome educational debt, how this affects congregations, and what can be done about the problem.
In these early days of MinistryFocus, the best way to learn more about this issue is to get on our mailing list. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)
How can you help?
Of course, you can make a monetary donation. Donations are a critical part of the solution. Your gift of any size will help pastors focus on ministry, and not money. You can Click here to donate.
Thrivent members have a second way to give. Four times a year, you can also designate ThriventChoice dollars to this cause.
Just as importantly, we ask you to:
- Learn more about this issue
- Join us in praying for pastors and other ministry leaders
- Let others know about MinistryFocus