Books

Recommendation: The Pursuit of God

Over the years, there have been a few books that have had a lasting and real impact on my heart. Out of all of those, none have had a larger impact that A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God.

Listen to Tozer's reason for writing this book:

"In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct 'interpretations' of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.

This book is a modest attempt to aid God's hungry children so to find Him. Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame."

I can say that, in seasons of spiritual coldness, my fire has been rekindled by reading Tozer's masterful work. As you begin 2018, let me recommend that you do so by stopping to consider the glory of pursuing God with all your heart this year. I guarantee you will benefit from it. 


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The Right Way to Give a Christmas Bonus to your Pastor

An excerpt from Structuring Pastoral Compensation:

Over the years, I have received numerous gifts from our church. Some were for Christmas, others were for anniversaries, and others were just because they loved us.

In fact, I just celebrated my 10th anniversary as the lead pastor of our church. They were very kind to us, and surprised us with a party. Many people brought cards and notes thanking us for our ten years of service. It was touching, and we were so honored.

It has been my observation over the years that most churches love their pastors. While they may not yet have every component discussed in this book as a part of their pastor’s total compensation package, they do genuinely want to care and provide for their pastor in practical and monetary ways.

One of the most common ways this is done by many churches is through the giving of bonuses or gifts to pastors either on special occasions (i.e. an anniversary) or around holidays (i.e. Christmas).

While this can be a great way to love and care for your pastor, a few things need to be said about bonuses and gifts.

Source of Funds

Before giving a bonus or gift to your pastor, you must first determine where these funds will come from. You have two likely options.

Bonus/Gift from the Church’s General Fund

One option is to simply give the bonus or gift directly out of the church’s general fund. No special collection of funds would be taken for this. This is the simplest, and as you will see in a moment, best method for such gifts.

Bonus/Gift Collected by the Church

Unfortunately, the more common method for coming up with the funds for these kinds of gifts is by the church taking up a special collection or “love offering” specifically for the gift. People just write a check to the church and designate it towards the gift. What could be easier?

Maybe . . . money laundering? I say that, mostly, to get your attention, but understand that this is practically (and inadvertently) what ends up happening in many churches.

Any gift given to a church that is specifically designated as being for the personal enrichment of any individual is generally NOT considered a tax-deductible or charitable contribution. Many people and many churches do not know this . . . which causes the transaction to become, in effect, an example of religious “money laundering." I’m being a bit facetious, but I hope you get my point.

If a church really wants to take a collection for its pastor, it should first notify the congregation that all funds given will not be tax-deductible and will not appear on their annual giving statements at the end of the year.

For this reason, I believe that the best method for giving bonuses or gifts is simply to do so out of the church’s general fund.

Tax Considerations and Reporting

However, regardless of which method above is used, any bonus or gift given to an employee of the church must usually be reported as taxable income for the year.

For example, Pastor Bob has a total income of $50,000 of which he designates $25,000 as being his housing allowance. The church makes a 5% contribution to his SEP totaling $1,250. However, at Christmas, the church decides to give Pastor Bob a $2,000 Christmas bonus to show their appreciation for his service.

Two things will most likely now need to happen: A) because the $2,000 is considered salary, the church will likely need to make an extra $100 contribution to Pastor Bob’s SEP (5% x $2,000 = $100); and B) the church will likely need to show a total salary of $27,000 on Pastor Bob’s W2 at the end of the year.

What Does All of This Mean for You?

It means that churches have a responsibility to rightly handle these kinds of gifts, both in respect to your donors and to your pastors/employees. Do not engage in well-intentioned but, nonetheless, unethical practices.

However, I would encourage you to make it a regular feature of your church’s care for your pastors to give them these kinds of gifts. It shows the pastor and his family that the church cares for them in a very practical way.

Not all gifts have to be cash-based (though, if it is a gift that has a known, tangible value, the value will very likely still need to be reported as salary.) Again, I have found that what pastors want most is to be remembered, thought of, and appreciated.

I’ll never forget my five-year anniversary at our church. As the day arrived, I didn’t expect or hope for any kind of monetary or non-monetary gift. All I wanted was a hug and a “thank you.” Not because I felt that I deserved to be thanked . . . but just because I wanted to know that our people remembered me.

So, let me encourage you to remember your pastors – love them, show them you care, remind them often of what a blessing they are to you. You will never know how much that truly means.

 

Stacy Potts is a pastor, author, and consultant specializing in pastoral compensation and personal finance issues. He is the author of multiple personal finance books for pastors including How to Not Be a Broke Pastor and The Pastor's Guide to Wise Investing. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA, with his wife, Jamie, and their two children, Nathaniel and Hannah. Visit his website at www.brokepastor.com.


Video - Are You a Broke Pastor?


LEARN MORE!!

Are you struggling to understand the unique and challenging world of pastoral compensation? Are you maximizing the benefits that could be yours by simply being "wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove" when it comes to how you structure your pastoral pay? 

As a pastor, I get it. Not only can our compensation be confusing, but there are also so many different components that need to be balanced . . . it can be hard to put all the pieces together.

How to Not Be a Broke Pastor is written for pastors/ministers and is designed to make the complexities of clergy pay simple and easy to understand, and also to give you ideas as to how you can use your income to the greatest extent possible. We may not have entered the ministry to get rich, but that doesn't mean we should be broke. Let me help you understand AND maximize the benefits from your compensation today.

What advice would someone like Warren Buffett give to pastors?


An excerpt from The Pastor's Guide to Wise Investing:

Almost everyone knows the name of Warren Buffett – maybe the greatest, most successful investor of our day. But very few people outside the world of professional investing know the name of his teacher, mentor, and friend – Benjamin Graham.

In 1950, when Buffett was just nineteen years old, he read Graham’s monumental work, The Intelligent Investor. Buffett said that, at the time, he thought it was the best book about investing ever written. Today, at eighty-six, he still believes the same thing.

Buffett writes:

To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. This book [The Intelligent Investor] precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework. You must supply the emotional discipline.

Did you notice the two components Buffett says are needed to be a successful investor? He said that you need a “sound intellectual framework” and “the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework.”

In fact, he went further and said that you do not need “a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information.” You just need a “sound intellectual framework” and “the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework.”

This is striking to me.

As I listen to most people talk about investing, it seems that there is a common belief that the biggest enemy facing most investors is some lack of one of the three things Buffett says we do not need. Yet, almost no one ever talks about the two things he says we do need. Is it just me, or does this seem backwards?

To learn more about The Pastor's Guide to Wise Investing, click here.

Best of the Web: The Cheap Way to Bless Your Pastor

I love it when I find other people saying EXACTLY what I say. Read this article from Kevin DeYoung to see what it is. Hint: this is what I talk about in chapters 5 and 9 of Structuring Pastoral Compensation!


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STRUCTURING PASTORAL COMPENSATION

Is your church structuring its pastoral compensation package in a way that truly blesses your pastor? Is your church doing all it can and should to financially provide for the pastors who keep watch over your souls?

The fact of the matter is that most churches have never given any thought to what a pastoral compensation package should look like, and much less to how they should structure it so that their pastor receives the maximum benefit.

Structuring Pastoral Compensation is written for church decision makers (Elders, Deacons, Trustees, Committee Members, etc.) to help them understand what should be included in their pastor's compensation and how to best implement the various pieces so that their pastor will be truly blessed.