Ministerial Excellence Fund

Pastoral debt: it’s a real thing.

But it’s not talked about. Why? Well, watch these RCA pastors read true stories from pastors around the denomination:

Did you know…​

  • 90 percent of pastors in debt report high stress in everyday life.
  • Seminary tuition costs have increased over 57 percent in the past decade, almost doubling the Higher Education Price Index.
  • Since 2001, the percentage of incoming students entering seminary with more than $25,000 in educational debt has increased by more than 143 percent.
  • 20 percent of all seminary graduates in 2012 incurred an additional $40,000 in educational debt while in seminary. 
  • A majority of clergy report inadequate and stagnant compensation as an economic challenge linked to inadequate savings and debt.  
  • Over a third of pastors say they have no one outside their household in whom they can confide about the things that stress them financially.1 

The Board of Benefits Services (BOBS) of the Reformed Church in America believes that financial burdens carried by pastors are barriers to effective ministry. If we can change this in a positive way, both pastors and congregations will flourish.  

We are pleased to offer grants from the Ministerial Excellence Fund for a second year. Through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and a matching gift from BOBS, over the next year, we plan to give away over $300,000 to pastors to relieve and eliminate personal debt.  

About the grant: 

The Ministerial Excellence Fund is used to give grants to pastors to relieve the burden of personal debt. Half of the fund is a generous gift from the Lilly Endowment, and BOBS will match those funds to double the amount to give away. Some grants given will even allow churches and pastors to contribute funds for an even greater grant award.

The Lilly Endowment states this conviction: Financial burdens carried by pastoral leaders are significant barriers to effective, faithful, and fruitful ministry. BOBS couldn’t agree more, which is why it has utilized this fund to help clergy become financially healthy.

Along with distributing money, BOBS will offer financial planning and education to equip pastors to lead well in their ministries.

If you want to donate to the fund—and have your funds matched—to help lessen pastors’ personal debt, you can do so below.

Who can apply? 

RCA pastors: ordained ministers of Word and sacrament (including specialized ministers) and commissioned pastors. The grant covers a range of debt, including student loans, medical debt, credit card debt, and other common forms of debt. Average grants given in the past have been $5,000-$10,000. Grant amounts are based on need and criteria met.  

Goals for the Ministerial Excellence Fund:

  • Relieve the burden of personal debt for pastors.
  • Equip pastors with financial education so that they may flourish personally and offer financial leadership in the ministries they serve.
  • Promote healthier dialogue within the church about money, clergy compensation, and generosity. 
  • Long-term sustainability.

Contact Information:

For questions about the grant, the application process, or to donate additional matching funds, contact Billy Norden, Retirement and Financial Education Coordinator, at

Applications will be accepted Feb 1-29.  Click here to apply.

1Grey Matter Research & Consulting, 2015. “Evangelical Pastor Study.” July. 



Help us achieve long-term sustainability by donating today. Your gift will be matched, which will allow us to help relieve pastors’ debt for many years.