This spring, the National Association of Evangelicals will launch a multi-year initiative addressing economic challenges facing pastors. Lilly Endowment Inc. granted the NAE $1 million for the project as part of its National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

“Financial challenges often add stress to the already difficult and demanding role of pastors today,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president. “We have had the desire to address this issue for a long time, and are pleased to partner with Lilly Endowment on a topic that will directly impact the ministry of thousands of pastors across the United States.”

The NAE began planning for the project in 2015 with surveys of pastors and denominational leaders, a consultation of church leaders and an initial assessment of existing financial resources designed for pastors. In this next phase, the NAE will utilize that research and the diverse connections within the NAE community to:

  • Raise the level of awareness and understanding about economic challenges facing pastoral leaders;
  • Assist NAE denominations and churches in developing strategies to address the unique challenges faced by pastoral leaders;
  • Help NAE denominations improve the quality and consistency of their financial services and educational programs;
  • Improve and expand awareness of and access by pastoral leaders and their spouses to new and existing educational programs and financial services;
  • Create a culture of and avenues for sharing of resources, programming and planning tools between NAE denominations, churches and ministries; and
  • Provide resources to empower denominations to relieve key financial pressures for pastoral leaders.

The NAE is one of 27 organizations taking part in Lilly Endowment’s initiative to address the financial struggles of pastors.

“Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment. “Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise. These organizations understand the importance of the financial wellbeing of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve.”

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 & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.