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Church LawEpisode 24|22 min|February 13, 2023

Helping Pastors Get Financially Healthy, with guest Elaine Sommerville, CPA

Why good compensation, benefits, and retirement planning can go a long way in reducing stress and avoiding crisis.

Helping Pastors Get Financially Healthy, with guest Elaine Sommerville, CPA
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A national survey shows 68 percent of Americans worry about their finances. Pastors are among those sharing such sentiments—in 2015, for instance, a National Association of Evangelicals survey of 4,000 pastors showed that many carry heavy loads of student debt and are unable to save for retirement or emergencies. Many worked second jobs.

In this episode, Erika more closely examines the challenges of financial stress and strain on pastors, and how it can create unhealthy dynamics ultimately affecting the church. Erika’s guest, CPA Elaine Sommerville, is the author of a book on church compensation and benefits planning, and together they discuss the ways church leaders need to evaluate the pay and benefits packages they offer.

Erika and Elaine talk about retirement planning. They also take a closer look at bivocational pastors, the differing needs, the challenges, and the ways churches can be fair to their unique situations.

As Erika and Elaine both note, conversations about financial well-being need to happen—and churches need to take the lead to ensure their pastors aren’t blindsided later in life.


Church Compensation, Second Edition, by CPA Elaine Sommerville

The Financial Health of Pastors,” by Lee A. Dean

Retirement Planning for Pastors and Staff,” an on-demand webinar with CPA Elaine Sommerville


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The Church Law podcast is part of Christianity Today’s ChurchLawAndTax.com, a not-for-profit publishing ministry.

Erika E. Cole, Esq., known as The Church Attorney®, is one of only a handful of attorneys in the nation who practices exclusively in the area of church law. She currently serves as a senior editorial advisor for Christianity Today’s ChurchLawAndTax.com.

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  • February 13, 2023