In part two of our Game Changers series, we are honored to introduce you to our friends at the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Founded in 1942, the National Association of Evangelicals seeks to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians in the United States. It represents more than 45,000 local churches from 40 different denominations and serves a constituency of millions.
We connected with NAE several years ago and quickly discovered that this organization is changing the game for thousands of churches across the country. NAE partnered with our team on a number of high-profile projects that were launched to rave reviews, most recently on a project called Financial Health for All, designed to connect and resource denominations, churches, and pastors in the area of pastor finances.
College students know that some career paths require initial financial sacrifices knowing that a few years of “paying your dues” will yield financial reward. This is often the case with church, ministry, or nonprofit work that people view as a calling and are willing to work harder for less money because of their passion and commitment to the cause. But you still have to pay your bills and put food on the table, and for most graduates, pay off student loan debt. As the financial pressures mount, the burden can become unbearable and some even abandon their passion and change careers in order to make ends meet. Discussions surrounding money can be complicated, especially in churches, leaving many pastors and their families to suffer in silence.
A Worthy Calling
The church has long served as a stalwart presence and a cornerstone of community life across the United States. Despite the historical and cultural role and influence of the church in the U.S., the rising cost of living and declining church attendance means that many churches don’t have the resources to pay pastors a livable full-time salary and benefits. More and more pastors are bi-vocational, working two jobs to make ends meet. Additionally, many church leaders have misunderstood their role and responsibility in ensuring that their pastors and church staff financial needs are being met. NAE’s research revealed that:
- 82 percent of pastors identified their community as a rural area or small town/city.
- Nearly 80 percent of pastors serve in congregations with fewer than 200 people, and 55 percent have fewer than 100 people in their church.
- The median annual budget of churches surveyed was $125,000.
- 50 percent of pastors receive compensation under $50,000 per year, even though many of them have advanced degrees.
- Only 5 percent said their denomination has “many resources” to help them with their personal finances, and only 9 percent said the denomination has “many resources” to help them with church finances.
- Only 14 percent of pastors said they received financial training from their seminary.
Financial concerns shouldn’t be a stumbling block that keeps pastors from following God’s call. NAE wants to help alleviate some of this burden by providing education and training to pastors and church leaders who make financial decisions. After receiving Lilly Endowment Inc. grant in 2016 they immediately contacted us to help bring their Financial Health for All initiative to life. We developed a distinct brand identity and online presence that serves as the vehicle to deliver online video training modules and other educational resources for pastors in need of help in this area.
Financial Health for All
NAE’s Communications Director Sarah Kropp Brown was our liaison and primary point of contact on this project. We worked together to build NAEfinancialhealth.org and bring the Financial Health for All vision to life, on time and within budget. We asked Ms. Brown to share any success stories from this project and we were excited to hear that these tools are changing the game and making a difference. One pastor said,
“My wife and I used the assessment surveys and resources over several months and greatly improved our financial health. We upgraded our medical coverage, lowered out-of-pocket costs, agreed on financial goals, increased giving, signed up for additional life insurance, and put extra money in savings every month! We’re grateful!”
Your Priorities Are Our Priorities
At Cross & Crown, we are business-minded with the heart of a nonprofit. We truly connect with the purpose and passion behind our client’s work and do our best to assimilate into their culture. Many of our clients are ministries, churches, and other organizations that are working hard to do more good and we love being a part of their mission. Part of how we do this is trying our best to provide a seamless experience and integrate into the natural rhythms of the teams we support. With NAE, we worked together to set goals and timelines but built in the flexibility to brainstorm and adjust as projects develop. Brown sums it up perfectly saying, “I always feel like Cross & Crown is ready and eager to help with small tasks and large projects. What is important to us is important to them.” This is exactly why we do what we do!