Inflation and Ministry
Rev. Joshua Patty
Regional Minister and President
Everywhere you look, prices seem to be more expensive than last year. It affects all of us. And this steep inflation (about 10%) significantly impacts the financial pieces of our ministry. Our supplies cost more; utilities cost more; people who provide services to us charge more; and our ministers and staff members need to earn more to maintain their standard of living. Plus those who participate in and generously give to support the ministry are facing the same inflation, which might impact how they can give of their time or finances.
What do we do when not every giver can afford to increase their financial support by at least 10%? What do we do if our congregation cannot afford to increase compensation for staff members and ministers by 10%?
First, we remember and celebrate that we are not facing this alone. This is a shared experience for most of us and for most ministries. In the coming months we may be able to commiserate and share with each other – maybe even lean on each other’s wisdom and gifts.
Then, we admit reality. Most people tend to be private about finances – and many congregations are the same way. We need to be open about things that are more expensive or decisions to decrease (or share) some costs. For those of us that make financial gifts, we need to recognize that for our 2023 contributions to have the same buying power as in 2022, they need to be at least 10% larger. For those of us budgeting, we need to recognize that our expenses will be higher and for our staff members to have the same buying power with their 2023 compensation, they need to make at least 10% more.
Honestly, it may be unwise or impossible for congregations to increase compensation by 10% for staff along with the other increasing costs of ministry. And It may be unwise or impossible for some givers to increase donations by 10%. But we cannot let that be an excuse to do nothing.
What should we do, especially if we find we cannot increase everything by 10%? As givers, we need to prayerfully figure out how much we can increase our gifts, commit to doing so, and find other ways to participate in ministry. As employers, we need to have honest conversations with ministers and staff members about budgetary constraints, find a way to increase compensation at least some, and then consider other practical ways to demonstrate our appreciation and gratitude (commitments for future increases, additional paid vacation/time off, etc.).
Like most challenges we face, our best approach is to work and serve side by side. And we must not let uncertainty or fear interfere with the important loving, teaching, justice-seeking ministry we share together in Jesus’ name.