(3) Rethink how clergy are supported and support themselves
I wrote in the preview post posing the situation where our clergy would graduate from seminary debt free and then would be placed in communities with only certain things paid for by the conference.
So before we begin lets take a look at my pastoral compensation here in Minnesota (we have a step-program where there is the entrance minimum and the salary increases $450 for each year of service...I am on step 3):
Salary = $34,321
Housing Allowance/Utilities = $13,200 (Rent, Phone, Utilities)
Pension = $7794
Health Insurance = $17940 (80% church, 10% AC, 10% pastor)
Mileage = $2000
Professional Expenses = $1000
Continuing Ed = $1392
Total Cost to Local Church = $74,059 (not including the $3588 the AC and Pastor pay for insurance)
The first church I was placed at had a parsonage so the housing/utilities section was about $7,200 less, and the overall budget was $142,000 (usually ended up spending $126,000) with 90% designated to operating expenses, building, and pastor........leaving 10% for educational material, programming, and mission. Seems excessive to me and personally (note that this is a personal opinion) it doesn't seem to bring about a good stewardship of the gifts God has given us (yes, I struggle daily with the cost of my servanthood to the church....).
So what if we placed pastors in communities and provided just housing, utilities, continuing ed, and put money in their pension (health insurance will be covered tomorrow). For example we will just use my package as an example (this will obviously vary slightly based on geographical location) to see how much the yearly cost would be:
$13,200 (Housing and Utilities- Includes everything including cell phone & internet) *Assumes no parsonage--parsonage would allow savings of roughly $8200*
$1392 (continuing ed--unused continuing ed would be banked for future use)
Currently = $74,059
New Proposal = $22,386 *or $14,186 (if parsonage owned and paid off)
Now, of course some might be asking how people are going to pay for food, gas, clothes, car, etc. My proposal was lets place clergy in a community and have them get a job (part-time should do). Here are my estimates (dont' have the exact on me right now) of our costs per month
Food = $600
Transportation = $650 (300=gas; 171=car payment; 90 = insurance; 89 = maintenance and repairs budget)
That would be $1250 plus say another $150 (to cover clothes, diapers, other expenses) making that $1400 per month. Now there are all kinds of factors that could play into things like spouse, etc. My wife makes about $1000-$1400 a month in a job that allows us to not pay daycare, but then we pay for Micah to go to pre-school (a choice not a necessity) at $450/month (all day every day). So most months what Stacy makes would cover our expenses and whatever I would work under the system would be above and beyond this (which could account for those unpredictable things, offering, saving for kids education, house purchase in retirement, helping others, toys for kids, etc, Stacy's student loans) ***all of this would be assuming being debt-free***
Assuming I made minimum wage (either $6.15/hr or $7.25/hr depending on company and requirement by state of MN *this will vary depending on state) and worked 20 hrs/week:
$6.15 (or $7.25) X 20 hours X 52 weeks = $6396-$7540/yr = $533-$628/mo
Obviously, hard choices would have to be made about preschool, etc. (and this is assuming that there is a spouse who is working....my emphasis would be on contextual understanding of family dynamics that determine some of the compensation...for instance if Stacy worked full time as a teacher she would bring home about $2000 net per month but then we would have daycare costs making it about even with what is listed as our current situation)
But in our current situation we could totally do it, and if I had known this was what it was going to be like in going into the ministry then that obviously also would effect how I prepared for the life, etc.
Would it be hard? Yes, but I really think it would align us with some of that whole John Wesley crazy (I don't think he was crazy but I am pretty sure most people would think he was crazy if he were living today with his beliefs on living, poverty, etc.)
What are the benefits?
-Money given within network could be used for mission and spiritual growth (along with supporting conference structure that would supply clergy...some networks would supply more than others, just like churches do now)
-Pastors would be out in community working and making connections
***Important that I think this model follows the tent-making example of Paul***
Obviously it is going to be a little more complicated, but this is just the beginning of my thoughts. Anyone disagree? Agree, but? Fine tune?