The Rural Pastor and Debt

Debt is killing pastors.   Rural small church pastors are especially at risk because of the small pay packages that most rural churches can afford.  Lets just say that pastor Billy is just graduating Seminary.  Billy accepts a call to a small rural church.  Billy is excited about his first pastorate but struggles EVERY day because the financial struggle takes a heavy toll on his family.  Billy has consumer debt, student loan debt, and the every day bills we all have.  Oh yeah. .  . Billy also has two kids and a wife to take care of.  Billy’s wife is taking care of the kids at home because the cost of day care would exceed her income.  Here is what Billy’s  income to debt ratio might look like.

1.  Billy, like many of his church members, has more credit card debt than he should.  $200.00 per month

2. Billy has a mortgage b/c the church doesn’t have a parsonage and even if they did have a parsonage Billy and his wife prefer to live in their own home.  (Pastors like privacy and equity as much as the next guy.)  $850.00 per month.

3.  Billy, like most of his church members, has two car payments.  $400.00 per month

4.  Billy’s utilities shake out like this:

A.  Electricity = $110.00 per month

B.  Gas = $45.00 per month

C.  Phone / Internet = $75.00 per month

D.  T.V. = $60 per month

E.  Cell Phones = $70.00 per month

5.  Billy is still paying for his and his wife’s student loans:  $300.00 per month

6.  Since Billy and his family like to eat they go to the grocery every week:  $600.00 per month

7.  Fuel for the cars:  $240.00 per month

8.  Car Insurance:  $70 per month

Total Expenses:  $3,020.00 per month or $36,240 per year

Pay package for a Tennessee Church running 50 -100 people in Sunday School:   $41,785 per year

$41,785.00 – $36,240.00 = $5,545.00

$5,545.00 represents what is left out of Billy’s pay package to purchase health insurance, ministry reimbursement, ministry tools, and continued education costs.

Billy’s options: 1.  Billy’s wife reluctantly works two jobs.  One to pay for day care and one to pay bills.  2.  Billy works another job (if his church will let him) but this takes time away from ministry.  3.  Billy is forced to resign and go to a suburban church with a suburban pay package.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Comments (12)  

Three Digits

High attendance Sunday at Cottage Grove met and exceeded our goals and expectations.  Sunday School is one of those non-abstract entities that pastors, churches, and denominations use to chart how well we are doing. . . numerically speaking.  It is a pretty straight forward process.  People show up, we count them, and then we display the results on the tote board in the vestibule.   Cottage Grove’s tote board has not had three digits on it in a long time.  101 people came to Sunday School at Cottage Grove Baptist Church yesterday which is pretty good considering our town has 96 inhabitants.  It was GREAT to see the classrooms full.  It was encouraging to see the parking lot fill up and the people file into church.

I wonder what it would be like to see three digits on the board on a Sunday that wasn’t high attendance day, Easter, or Christmas?  I wonder what it would be like if God’s people were as intent on inviting people to church next Sunday as we were for the “big day”?  Every Sunday is a “big day” in my book.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to learn, grow, and worship.  It is important for all of us to recognize that those digits on the tote board represent real people.  I’ll be prepared to preach to one or 100, but three didgits was nice for a change.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 11:44 am  Comments (3)  

School’s Out For Summer!

I’ll be back to blogging in a few weeks. See ya in August!

Published in: on July 12, 2009 at 4:42 am  Comments (1)  

Things I would not know without my kids

1.  I know what 4 a.m. looks like because of my two month old.  FYI. . . 4 a.m. looks tired.   I have also learned that spit-up clashes with most of my Sunday suits.

2.  I know that my coffee tastes better when my two year daughter helps stir the sugar in every morning.   Lydia is also proficient in lipstick art.  I bet you didn’t know that makeup could be used as paint. . . I didn’t either.

3.  I know which dicast toy characters from the movie Cars are coming out next month because of my 5 year old son.  Joshua has also taught me that the word “daddy” can be repeated approximately 400 times in one minute.

4.  I know that Shawn Johnson (Olympic Gymnast) has her own line of leotards because my 7 year old daughter (future Olympic gymnast) has shown me which one she wants.  Laura has also taught me that 36 year old men do not bend like 7 year old girls.

5.  I know how much Mark McGuire’s rookie card is worth because of my 10 year old son.  I also know the pros and cons to every every game system that has ever been invented because of Andrew’s diligent research.

6.  I know that there are 4 varieties of venomous snakes in Tennessee due to my 12 year old’s interest in all things that slither.  What I DON’T know from Caleb is how to do, even one, of those card tricks he does so well.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 11:42 am  Comments (4)  

She Is TWO!

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Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Here In The Real World Their Shutting Detriot Down!

A welfare state is one of the most unholy things that I can fathom.  All it creates is decay.  Moral and social decay lay in the wake of our “progressive” politicians who seem to bow down at the elusive idol of an egalitarianism.  Elusive because God created individuals instead of robots.   We are not mass-produced (Psalm 139:13).  There will never be a successful social welfare state due to the fact that individuals will always rise above and rebel against it. . . as they should.  Innovators will never leave good enough alone.  The cream will always rise to the top.   Leveling the playing field will only make innovators create a new field.  This is what has happened to Detroit.  Read here to see how Detroit’s playing field is being left behind by industry and retail. When 30% of your city is on welfare retailers and manufacturers can’t survive.  They will, out of necessity, leave.  Detroit’s demise has been slowly playing out now for the past couple of decades, and has suffered under the progressive social agenda of republicans and democrats alike.  I like to refer to them as Republicrats. I can’t tell one from the other anymore, as they all pander to special interests and play games with our lives.

As a pastor, I see what welfare does to people.  They become so entangled in the system that freedom becomes elusive.  Many of them simply loose their will to think and act for themselves.  They become a special interest group of their own waiting for the next government handout.  Their special interest is mediocrity and “good enough to get by”.  I know some of you will read this and ask, “What about the people who can’t take care of themselves?”   We should absolutely take care of those people.  By WE, I mean the church, family, and the local community.  Only when those resources are exhausted should we seek help from the state.

Shoot for excellence!  Shoot for I Cor. 10:31!

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Comments (4)  

Me and Andrew

I make a point to go somewhere special with each of my kids.  Andrew has been begging to go to a St. Louis Cardinals Game. . . so we did.  I had such a good time hanging out with my son.  The three hour trip allowed Andrew the chance to ask every question that he had been storing up in his little head (apparently he had quite a stock pile).  We covered everything from baseball to why thunder and lightning go together.   As we were about to go to sleep at the hotel he said, “Thanks for taking me to the game dad.  We had a good time didn’t we?  I love you dad.”  That “I love you dad” was worth far more than the price of tickets, $20 for parking, $22 for concessions, $28 for the Cardinal Jersey, the hotel, and the price of gas.       026a

Published in: on June 10, 2009 at 7:45 pm  Comments (6)  

A Presidential Proclamation

Our government, by presidential proclamation, has proclaimed that June 2009 will be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender month.  This appeared on the White House website.

Read  Here!

The homosexual agenda now has the full weight, support, and credibility of the White House.

Published in: on June 3, 2009 at 11:13 am  Comments (1)  

In Five Years

Five years in one place.  I began my life as the pastor of Cottage Grove Baptist Church on June 6, 2004.  If the church keeps us another week, I will have been here for five years.  It has been my honor to be named among the 40 other pastors who have served Cottage Grove.   Five years doesn’t sound significant when you consider our church is over 150 years old, but the last five years have impacted my family significantly.

The past five years have impacted me as a pastor.  I have spent the last five years pursuing the same goal day after day, which is “Preach the Word and Love the People”.   In five years God has led me to deliver over 500 sermons (2 per Sunday).  In five years I have counseled (in formal and informal sessions) with hundreds of people.  In those counseling sessions I have witnessed marriages fall apart, and have seen many healed.  I have seen addicts lay their addictions on the alter, and have listened to some tell me what I want to hear only to return to their masters.  In five years I have seen some lives ablaze for God, and witnessed others burn out.  In five years I have seen a church grow, decline, and grow again in a community that is slowly deteriorating.   In five years I have watched the church remodel and upgrade technology in the sanctuary.  In five years I have visited the lonely, the sick, the dying, the prisoner, and the widow.  In five years I have seen God remove obstacles to His plan for our church (sometimes my plans have been that obstacle).  In five years I have conducted and overseen many weddings and funerals.  In five years I watched as babies became kindergartners,  first graders became middle schoolers, 9th graders became graduates, and graduates became adults.  In five years I have seen mechanics become missionaries.  In five years I watched as our church increased missional giving and going exponentially.  In five years I have seen the fellowship of the church threatened, and the fellowship of the church strengthened.  In five years I have seen individual church members become our evangelism program.  In five years I have seen seekers become disciples, and disciples mature in their understanding of God and the mission.  In five years there have been times when I prayed for God to deliver me from here, only to turn around and pray for Him to help me stay.  In five years God has shown me that I have much to learn, and little ability without Him.

The last five years have impacted me personally.  In five years my wife and I have gone from our early 30’s to the downhill side of 30.  In five years my family has expanded from six to eight.   This community and this church is the only home  three of my children have ever known.  In five years three of my children have been saved and then baptized at Cottage Grove Baptist Church.  In five years my children have all made friends and have become connected to this community.  In five years Robin and I have grown to love the people and the community in a way that I could have never  imagined.

I don’t know what the future holds for us but one thing is sure. . . the last five make me look forward to the next five.

Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 3:15 am  Comments (5)  

Run, Preacher, Run!

Here we have three pastors who have just finished a 5k (3.1 miles).  We all gathered on this hot May day to raise money to send some folks to do missions in Honduras.  I’m just glad to see some preachers running for something other than the last piece of chicken.  Refreshing ain’t it?

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Here I am about to cross the finish line.  I finished in 27:40.

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Here I am sporting my well earned bling bling!  (2nd place medal in the 30-39 men’s division).

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Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm  Comments (1)