My guess is that most pastors have student loans when they graduate. Yet I am not sure that congregations question how those college loan interest rates or the challenges in the consolidation of those student loans impact a pastor's personal finances.
Perhaps they are drowning in student loan debt!
Student loans just may be a major part of your pastor's personal budget, the result of meeting the expected educational requirements churches have for their pastor.
While the pastor may be very aware of how college loan interest rates impact their personal finances, it is my opinion that the employing congregation often is not aware of the how college loans weigh upon their pastor.
Like many graduates who financed their education with loans, I can remember the impact of student loans on my own finances when starting my pastoral career.
The question is whether a church employing a pastor with a masters degree or even a bachelors degree is aware of the financial pressures student loans have on their pastor, both financially and emotionally.
A great way to demonstrate pastor appreciation is to show awareness of your pastor's college student loans and to understand he or she may be struggling financially because of their college debt.
Christian Colleges are expensive and the cost of attending is the same for the ministerial student as it is for the college graduate who intends to be a physician or lawyer.
Unfortunately while the cost of attending college is the same for each of those professions, the salary expectations are not.
College student loans may be seem like a blessing when paying for college and graduate school, making it seem the student received an affordable college degree.
Then the college loans become due, with many students facing college loans well over $50,000 and an annual salary well under that amount, which is typical salary for pastors in their first church assignment.
For higher paying professions, it is assumed the salary to be earned will pay for the education required for that profession.
Unfortunately, the salary of the pastor often does not reflect the cost of obtaining a masters degree, and the result is a financially strapped pastor, turning to refinancing student loans through the consolidation of student loans.
Without student loans for college, your pastor assumed there was no other way to earn a college degree. Many pastors also attended seminary and so financed their masters degree through graduate student loans.
In repaying those student loans, many graduates in other professions simply work an extra job. Usually, pastors do not work an extra job like other professionals are allowed to.
Often, congregations are totally unaware of the financial burden college loans become for their pastor. Of course, an extra income source could make all the difference in meeting this college debt obligation, and churches would do well to give permission for their pastor to do so.
So in all your efforts as a church to show appreciation, perhaps even a raise in salary would be in order to help defray the cost of your pastor's college school loans. Doing so would help turn his attention from college loan interest rates and the consolidation of student loans so he can focus on the Lord's work.