The economic realities facing the Church of the 21st century are complex. Confronted by decreased attendance and giving and burdened by the maintenance of aging properties, many churches have a difficult time attracting and adequately caring for pastors financially. Moreover, the expense of ministerial education and the subsequent repayment of student debt compel young men and women to question whether they can afford to pursue a call to ministry.
Nazarene Theological Seminary will host a summit to consider these and similar critical issues September 28. Titled “Funding Clergy and the Church in the New Millennium,” the event will precede the USA/Canada Regional Theology Conference, which begins that evening.
Featured speakers at the summit will include J. Clif Christopher, author of several books, including Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship; and Molly Marshall, president and professor of theology and spiritual formation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
The summit will include a panel discussion featuring Christopher; as well as Dan Copp, Church of the Nazarene education commissioner; Jerry Kester, superintendent of the Washington Pacific District; Megan Pardue, bivocational senior pastor of Refuge, a house-based church in Durham, North Carolina; Bill Sawyer, a former bivocational pastor and current chief administrative officer of the Global Ministry Center; Carla Sunberg, NTS president; and Don Walter, director of Pensions and Benefits USA.
“Young ministers are burdened with school debt, while older ones anxiously approach retirement,” said Walter, whose office is partnering with NTS to produce the summit. “With church attendance and giving shrinking, we are compelled as a denomination to find ways to financially support and fulfill the call to ministry for a new day. This summit will provide valuable insight into how to do this.”
“The ministry context for pastors today is much different than it was 20, or even 10 years ago,” Sunberg said. “Since the beginning of the ‘great recession,’ we have seen that giving patterns have changed and shifted. This will have long-term implications for the life of the church. The summit will provide an opportunity to wrestle together with these issues as we learn to navigate the shifting landscape, explore foundational tools, and plan for a very different future.”
There is no admission fee, but those who plan to participate should register here.