MinistryFocus is proud to announce to date, we’ve awarded 37 loan repayment assistance grants to pastors, Lutheran school teachers, and directors of Christian outreach and missionaries who serve across the globe. These annual grants of $625 per quarter ($2,500/year) are intended to assist church workers with the educational loans they incurred in the required preparation for their professional service to the body of Christ. More pointedly, the goal of these grants is to help church workers focus less on money and more on ministry, so that faith is strengthened and more people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The issue of structural educational loan debt is one that is being discussed with increasing frequency within the church, as such debt is recognized as negatively impacting both the retention of church workers and the recruitment of potential church workers. As noted by Rev. Tom Schlund, MinistryFocus’ director of communications and marketing,
“We don’t believe that educational debt in and of itself is the problem; the problem is the financial stress that is caused by the inability to repay this debt given certain income realities. High debt-to-income realities place our dedicated church workers in positions in which they can’t provide for their families and money becomes a focal point. As empirical evidence indicates, the resulting stress negatively impacts their ministries, their families and their own lives.”
In response to the problem caused by disproportionate debt-to-income realities, MinistryFocus was formed to establish a loan repayment assistance program for called workers of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). This proven secular program is used by many law schools, medical schools and the Federal Government to encourage lawyers, doctors, teachers and other public servants to serve in low-income positions and areas.
In 2015, MinistryFocus awarded its inaugural loan repayment assistance grants to 15 called workers of the LCMS. Increased financial support allowed for the awarding of two additional grants this year. A five-member grants panel representing a cross-section of the LCMS reviewed the nearly 60 applications and then consulted with the respective district presidents for their feedback. As noted by Rev. Ken Krueger, MinistryFocus’ president,
“As I read the applications, I was struck by the dedicated servant leadership of so many of our called workers, even in the face of challenging financial realities. Thanks to the grace of God and the generosity of His people, we were very excited to award the inaugural 15 grants last year and even more excited to be able to offer two additional grants this year to support these servants of God’s church.”