Grant Funds New AG Center for Leadership and Stewardship Excellence
For many Assemblies of God ministers, the newly launched Center for Leadership and Stewardship Excellence (CLSE) may very well be God’s way of helping them fulfill their calling and stay in ministry!
In December 2016, Lilly Endowment Inc. presented the Assemblies of God with a $1 million grant as part of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral leaders. The Assemblies of God is one of 36 organizations in initiative that are designing and implementing programs to reduce or alleviate key financial pressures that impair effective pastoral leadership.
“Through an extensive survey of 6,800 ministers, we confirmed that finances are a major stressor for many of our pastors,” explains Doug Clay, general superintendent-elect of the Assemblies of God. “In fact, we found that 45 percent of AG ministers receive less than $30,000 in total compensation, including benefits.”
The statistics concerning AG pastors’ finances are reason for concern, as not only are many struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, the future is not any brighter. Fifty percent of those surveyed who’ve started saving for retirement have less than $19,000 saved and 27 percent have no retirement savings. In addition, 69 percent of all AG ministers had non-mortgage debt (school loans, medical and credit card debt), which averaged $40,000.
However, the CLSE hopes to help ministers improve their financial position through providing free training in the areas of personal finances, stewardship and giving, church administration, church budgeting and finance, compensation and payroll, and church governance. CLSE has also created a Ministerial Excellence Fund Grant that provides monetary assistance to ministers who meet the criteria.
“Through the survey we also learned that more a one-third of AG ministers have considered leaving the ministry due to finances, while 75 percent personally know a minister who did,” Clay says. “Those numbers add even greater weight to the need for a ministry such as the Center for Leadership and Stewardship Excellence.”
CLSE has also partnered with ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) to provide churches with ChurchEXCEL, a free resource subscription that offers a library of on-demand webinars, eBooks, electronic tax guides, an interactive training course, podcasts, an eNewsletter, dozens of articles and sample policies, and more — just for subscribing at no cost.
“There is so much more to being a minister than speaking on Sunday mornings than most people ever dream,” observes Rollie Dimos, project director, who was a lead in developing CLSE. “This partnership with ECFA provides many easy-to-understand resources that will help ministers become competent, confident church administrators.”
Clay also values the built-in accountability as well as awareness the Ministerial Excellence Fund Grant brings to the table. As a requirement for a minister to receive a grant through the fund, a church must match the amount. So, if the fund gives a minister $500, the church would also give the minister $500.
“In addition to a clear need being a qualification requirement, the matching of the fund grant represents local investment into a minister’s life,” Clay explains. “We are unable to know or provide for every minister’s needs at a national level, but local churches, through God, can move mountains of financial stresses once they’re made aware of the need.”
To learn more about the Center for Leadership and Stewardship Excellence for pastors and churches, see clse.ag.org.
About Lilly Endowment
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family -- J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli -- through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.