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New Resources for Ministers

John Fikkert

When I think of providing resources for ministers, I remember Paul's instruction to Timothy to bring his cloak, books, and especially the parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). After sharing a gold mine of instruction and pastoral wisdom in his letter to Timothy, Paul reveals his own need for more resources in his labors as an apostle.

One of the roles that the OPC's Committee on Ministerial Care (CMC) seeks to fulfill is to provide a variety of resources for ministers to aid them in their work. We all benefit from helpful resources, even basic items like a cup of cold water or a cloak to keep warm. What follows is a summary of newer resources developed by the CMC for OPC ministers. As a quick navigation tool, most of these resources can be located on our website at www.opcCMC.org/Resources. Webinars can be found on their own page, www.opcCMC.org/Webinars.

Health Insurance Briefs

When a minister considers a new call or has just accepted a call, questions often arise about identifying the right health insurance plan for himself and his family. Sometimes the call is to a new state that has different rules and different rates for health insurance. Finding even basic information about the costs and benefits of different types of insurance can be difficult. As an aid to ministers researching the health insurance option that best fits their needs, the CMC has published insurance briefs on its website for the four major types of insurance: individual plans (both PPO & HMO), group plans, Obamacare (ACA) plans, and Christian medical sharing plans.

Paper on Opting Out of Social Security

A new minister begins his first call, and, within the first two years of his ministry, he has to make a decision regarding opting out of the social security system. This decision comes at a time when a young minister has many new concerns to address, and giving sufficient time to a decision about social security can be difficult. Through our conversations and work with ministers, CMC has learned that new ministers do not always have all the information they will need when making a decision about social security. Of primary concern is the matter of conscience, and giving sufficient consideration to the Biblical and theological matters involved in forming convictions of conscience. Additional concerns include the understanding that opting out of social security also means opting out of Medicare, disability, and other benefits of the social security system. For the minister who opts out, those benefits would need to be replaced with adequate disability insurance and health insurance in retirement. The goal of the paper is to provide information for making an informed decision by presenting arguments both for and against opting out of social security. It is a summary of the critical information a minister might need in considering the issue.

Voluntary Financial Planning Team (VFPT)

The CMC's Voluntary Financial Planning Team is not as new as some of the other resources in this article, but it may be less well-known and possibly underutilized as a resource for ministers. The intent of the VFPT is to provide entry-level advice to ministers on financial and retirement concerns. In some cases, a minister and his wife might need a full-scale financial evaluation with a certified financial planner. In that case, the VFPT consultant can help them with an appropriate referral. The goal in providing this resource is to help ministers, who may lack financial planning expertise, navigate significant and life-altering financial decisions.

Sabbaticals

CMC recently developed guidelines to advise sessions and pastors on taking sabbaticals. Sometimes a sabbatical takes the form of a concentrated study leave, while at other times it takes the form of a complete break from study and ministerial concerns. No two sabbaticals will look exactly alike, and it may take some thought in forming a sabbatical that properly fits both the pastor and the church. While pastors are involved in the process, the guidelines are intended for the entire session to consider prayerfully. The CMC is currently developing ideas to provide grants for sabbaticals intended for churches that would like to provide a sabbatical but cannot afford it.

Webinars

Our most recent webinar was held on Thursday, May 14 with Dr. David Murray on the subject of ministering in a burnout culture and reflects on the material in his recent book Reset. If you have not yet had a chance to view the webinar, you can watch a replay of it on our website. Stay tuned for the webinar on July 30 at 2 p.m. Eastern on the subject of ministers and wives partnering together in ministry.

Other Resources

Please visit our website and find additional materials on retirement and registration, housing allowance guidelines, a salary scale tool, past webinars, and diaconal assistance forms that can be filled out by presbytery diaconal committees.

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