Building a Thriving Future

By Mark Rennaker

Thrive Financial Initiative invites collaboration to discuss and address pastors’ economic burdens and provide financial management tools for a pastor and congregation.

“Not sure how, but I’ve got to get my church involved,” Randy Yaryan thought. He had just learned about the Thrive Financial Initiative (TFI), a new program from The Wesleyan Church Education and Clergy Development Division. TFI brings the denomination, district, local church and pastor together in collaborative ways to address pastors’ economic burdens and provide financial management tools for a pastor and congregation.

Through years of ministry at minimal salaries, Yaryan accumulated sizeable debt from his and his kids’ education, loans from worn-out vehicles he used for ministry and bills from other expenses just to provide a home for his family. Working second and third jobs to make ends meet eroded his outlook for ministry and strained relationships with the people he was called to serve. Yaryan suffered. Ministry suffered.

TFI gave Yaryan hope his situation might be reversed. He shared the project with the Winchester Union Street Wesleyan Church family, finding them receptive to the idea.

“I found a church willing to help its pastor. They just didn’t know I needed it or where I needed it,” Yaryan said. When he affirmed he had some debt concerns, that was enough information for his church leaders.

Without knowing all the details, laity started brainstorming ideas for raising funds to reduce his debt. The pastor and lay leaders began working together to complete financial education projects that helped them become better stewards. Many took the opportunity to minimize personal debt. The church also tackled some of the congregation’s debt. What started as support for the pastor soon grew into a collaborative project freeing pastor and people from some of the economic shackles limiting ministry focus and ability.

A church once mired in debt and a doubtful future has begun to turn into a kingdom force in its small community, one nail, one board, one person at a time.

Growing freedom allowed the church to turn attention from problems toward possibilities. Yaryan acquired a home that might provide rental income, but the house needed renovation. He started making repairs alone, but soon had a team of helpers. Church members volunteered time and tools. They networked in the community to find materials and supplies. Room by room, the house, the church and the future took shape.

Amazing futures sometimes emerge from a simple question: “What if?” While working on Yaryan’s rental home, the pastor and laity learned that someone in the Winchester community needed help. A man widely known for serving kids through the local YMCA and youth sports leagues lived in a home covered in broken siding, rotted doors and shattered windows. “What if . . . ?”

Yaryan and Union Street Wesleyan Church took the lead. They built a coalition of community churches. They organized with the YMCA. They networked with local merchants to collect donations, materials and volunteer-work schedules. The youth at Union Street donated $1,000 to the project.

Yaryan and his team launched the work in August 2017, living out the grace and generosity of Christ. A church once mired in debt and a doubtful future has begun to turn into a kingdom force in its small community—one nail, one board, one person at a time.

Hope for Pastors

You can learn more about the beginnings of TFI by reading Hope for Pastors: A Collaborative Approach to Clergy Financial Health available from Wesleyan Publishing House.

Buy the book

TFI operates through a simple proposition: thriving clergy help create thriving congregations, which help support thriving communities. The economic challenges pastors face often exist at the center of reasons why they fail to thrive. But it’s not really about the money. It’s not about pastors accumulating material wealth. It’s about removing impediments and creating conditions that help pastors function fully in the calling and gifts of God.

Through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, God has blessed The Wesleyan Church with a pathway to address the economic challenges faced by our clergy–Thrive Financial Initiative.

Thrive Financial Initiative

learn how you, your pastor and your church can engage in the Thrive Financial Initiative

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