The NEED for Personal Stewardship
In 2015, a survey was commissioned to study the personal and congregational financial situations of more than 4,000 pastors across the USA. The results were, in a word, alarming. Ninety-two percent identified a lack of retirement savings as a major personal concern. Thirty percent reported having absolutely no personal savings, either emergency or retirement. Seventy-six percent knew others who had left the ministry due to financial pressures.1
Personal experience similarly reflects a troubling situation in ministerial finances. “What can a 59 year with only a small IRA do now that will provide a retirement?” “I am 61, and I have no savings for retirement. Will the Pension Plan be able to help?”
While being faithful stewards of God’s promises, it has been easy to neglect stewardship of our personal finances and future. Thom Rainer once wrote about ministry personnel and money, “They had this naïve idea that things would just work out.”2 The Christian Churches Pension Plan is designed to be stewardship for your future.
The Plan is SIMPLE
Retirement plans and financial plans have the propensity of being complex. There are annual contribution limits for most retirement accounts. Some have a fixed dollar annual amount. Others are limited based upon a percentage of the gross income. Some retirement plans sponsored by denominational conferences combine retirement and disability insurance coverage, requiring an annual contribution similar to FICA and MediCare with very complex formulas calculating the base retirement income provided.
Anyone involved in congregational ministry, mission or nonprofit work, or a Christian college may participate in the Christian Churches Pension Plan. The annual contribution is a fixed amount, $750 per unit. A participant may enroll with a minimum of one unit, or as many units as they desire. Units may be added, or suspended, at any time based upon the Participants financial situation. A participant is free to determine the annual contribution based upon their personal circumstances. The Plan was designed, from its inception, as a retirement plan that would be easy to understand.
The Plan is STEADY
The Christian Churches Pension Plan is a classic defined benefit plan, producing a monthly income for the life of the Participant. Benefits begin the month after a participant reaches the age of 65 and continues for life, an income that cannot be outlived.
The monthly income produced is based upon the Participant’s age of enrollment for each unit and continuing annual contribution. The younger the age of enrollment, the greater the monthly income for life. The Plan offers the option of two payments to beneficiaries upon the death of a Participant. Someone may choose to have any beneficiary receive a guaranteed 120 months of the full monthly income if the Participant dies prior to that time. Alternately, a Participant my elect to have the spouse receive one-half the monthly income for their life upon the Participant’s death.
The Participant is vested for a retirement from each unit after only one year! If financial conditions change, and someone finds it necessary to lapse or suspend the annual contribution, the monthly benefit is not surrendered. Once one annual unit contribution has been made, that unit will produce a prorated monthly income benefit.
The Plan is SOLID
The Plan is overseen by a Board of Governors selected from among Plan Participants. The Board selects a CEO/Administrator to oversee the daily operations of the Plan. The CEO and Board annually work with consulting actuaries to determine the Plan’s financial soundness and with consulting attorneys to ensure the Basic Plan Document meets all legal and IRS standards.
The Plan Trustee is US Bank. The Bank is responsible for all payments of monthly income and the management of the largest share of Plan Assets. Seven other professional asset managers have been selected to manage a respective portion of the assets. These managers are experienced in pension fund asset allocation and are diversified as to management philosophy and class of investments managed.
Simple, Steady, Solid, Stewardship
Studies show that a plan is more readily adopted when it is easy to understand, and participants remain actively involved when they believe the plan is solid. This stewardship for the future is crucial to an effective ministry, because servants do not have to worry about money being available for the future. For those who have devoted their lives vocationally in service to Christ, the Christian Churches Pension Plan is a reliable part of a diversified and secure financial retirement strategy.
More information is available on the Plan website, ccpension.org. The Basic Plan Document is available upon request.
1 Grey Matter Research & Consulting. Evangelical Pastor Study. National Association of Evangelicals. July 2015.
2 Rainer, Thom. 8 Common Money Questions. March 16, 2013. ThomRainer.com.