The Ministerial Excellence Initiative (MEI) is designed to help pastoral and congregational leaders identify and respond to financial stressors causing anxiety. Our goal is to stimulate a sense of confidence, and increase knowledge in the lives of our pastoral leaders and congregations. The MEI initiative:
for qualifying pastoral leaders to aid in managing and maintaining financial integrity.
 

In a recent survey of pastors, 4 pressing financial needs emerged: overwhelming debt, a lack of health benefits, retirement contributions and financial advisement.

Pastoral leaders cannot perform at maximum excellence when stressing about personal or congregational finances. Congregational leaders cannot make informed, strategic decisions when burdened with financial pressures. The negative stigma behind financial struggles and the shame and blame associated with it also impedes the work and call of our CBF ministers.

We want to help and we want our pastoral leaders to know that they are not alone.

Apply for Debt Relief

 

Before you begin filling out the application, gather the information on this checklist:

  • General personal information including ministry job history
  • Current church address, faith group affiliations, weekly attendance and offering totals and annual budget total
  • Individual and spousal salary and benefits details
  • Financial information including balances for all bank accounts, loans and credit card accounts
  • Retirement account information
  • Read and understand the Covenant Agreement.
  • Trusted congregational advocate information - find more information here.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Questions

1Are the grants awarded on a personal basis? How much will the congregation be involved?
Grants are awarded to the individual and not the congregation It is up to the applicant how much the congregation is involved. If you only want to work with one trusted individual or use a committee of 2-3 individuals, that is for you to determine. The level of transparency is determined by the grant recipient.
2What if during the grant process, the participant is called to a different congregation?
This is not an issue as long as you: Make sure the new congregation is willing to help with coaching expenses Make sure to find a new trusted congregational advocate
3Can I apply if I am a bi-vocational pastor/associate pastor/minister?
Yes, as long as you are a congregational minister affiliated with CBF.
4Is this grant available to help with retirement savings?
Yes, the grant funds can be used to help with retirement savings. Of the $10,000 monetary award, $2000 will be used to set up a retirement account and help with retirement savings. CBF Church Benefits will work with recipients to do this.
5Who manages and oversees this fund? Strictly CBF? A Board?
The fund is managed by the CBF Ministerial Excellence Initiative (MEI) Leadership Team.
6How much is the average distribution?
Recipients can receive up to $10,000 depending on their financial situation and award criteria. $8000 of this will be used for debt relief and the remaining $2000 will be used to set up a retirement account with CBF Church Benefits or contribute to an existing retirement account with CBF Church Benefits.
7Can it be renewed or is it a one-time gift?
This is a one-time gift and cannot be renewed.
8How long do applicants typically wait until they are notified as to whether they’ve received a grant?
The entire process could take up to 6-8 months.

 

Application

1I am currently consulting a professional financial advisor, but my advisor recommends that I use the CBF advisor. Can I do that?
Yes, you may use the CBF advisor.
2I am currently consulting a professional financial advisor. Do I have to use the CBF advisor
No, you may use your own advisor, but using a CBF advisor is highly recommended.
3After I complete my application, is there anything I need to do in the meantime?
After you submit your complete application, CBF will contact you regarding next steps. This may take up to 60 days.
4Will the application save my information if I leave and return at a later time? If I save the link and open it will the information still be there?
Although the system should save your information, please note that due to unforeseen technological issues this cannot be guaranteed.
5As a married couple both serving as pastoral leaders, do we need separate applications?
You may choose to respond as a couple. Only one application is required. However, due to the grant award requirements, there will be only one grant award per family.
6May I select my Pastor or supervisor as my Trusted Congregational Advocate?
No, A senior pastor or supervisor of grant recipients cannot serve as the grant recipient’s Trusted Congregational Advocate
7If I start the application and cannot finish the same day, will the system save my information so I can continue the application later?
Yes, you can continue the application later using the unique web link sent via email when you registered. Although the system should save your application, please note that due to unforeseen technological issues, this cannot be guaranteed.
8Is this a rolling application process or is there an application deadline?
This is a rolling application process. There is no deadline to apply, but applications are considered on a first come, first serve basis.
9Is the application secure? Will my information be shared?
The application is on a secure server. Only the grant committee will view the application information during the review process.

 

Training Events

1Will my participation require me to travel more than once? If so, how many times?
The only travel required of the grant recipient is for the Creating Generous Congregations (CGC) Lake Institute Training event at the expense of the grant recipient. This training is held in Atlanta. The Pastor and Personal Finance training is a one-day regional event. The location of these one-day trainings will be announced ahead of time to give grant recipients ample time to plan when and where they’d like to attend the training. Lodging and conference fees are provided by CBF for grant recipients, trusted congregational advocates and spouses.
2Am I supposed to book my hotel?
No. CBF will handle hotel reservations and fees for grant recipients and their trusted congregational advocate.
3Can spouses attend?
Yes, spouses are highly encouraged to attend, and expenses will be covered by CBF once you arrive at the training location.
4Is there a penalty if we can't attend?
Grant recipients and Trusted Congregational Advocates are required to attend the training events. If this can’t happen, the grant recipient will have to withdraw from the program until a new cohort is formed.
5Are Trusted Congregational Advocates required to attend training events required of grant recipients?
Trusted Congregational Advocates are required to attend both training events. Their presence is vital to training. Lodging and conference fees will be provided by CBF. Travel expenses will be at their expense. To receive a grant a Trusted Congregational Advocate must be enlisted by the grant recipient and must be available to participate in all training events. In the event the TCA cannot attend training events, the grant recipient will need to withdraw from the program until a new cohort is formed and the TCA is available to attend

Resources

 

Engaging a holistic approach to financial education, these efforts will consider financial goals as well as one’s calling, family circumstances and future plans. Our priority is to educate the whole of our Fellowship by reaching pastoral leadership, congregations and CBF leadership through Lake Institute training events and ongoing events through Peer Learning Groups, Church Works, CBF General Assembly, State & Regional Meetings, CBF Fellows, and CBF Church Benefits.  

Peer Learning Groups - With more than 120 peer learning groups providing a safe and effective learning environment, CBF will provide support of $250 for 40 groups each year to sponsor an in-depth study of personal and congregational healthy financial practices. Each Peer Learning Group will be able to select resources or connect with industry experts who can address their collected interests and concerns in a small group setting. Learn more about CBF Peer Learning Groups here.

Church Works - At an annual gathering of ministers, lay leaders, church starters, seminary students and CBF leadership, the programming will include presentations of unique financial challenges discovered among CBF clergy. Healthy financial practices, resources and the Ministerial Excellence Fund application process will also be shared.

CBF General Assembly: MEI Leadership will present a report to the Assembly and a workshop related to MEI grant activity, Pastoral Leadership and Personal Finance, and Pastoral Leadership and Congregational Finance at a well-attended pastoral and lay leadership annual gathering. A gathering for CBF advocates will be held to allow for community building and fund-raising. A gathering for fund-raisers and coaches will also be held.

State and Regional Meetings: Nineteen state and regional CBF organizations gather together through the year building upon the community of support within CBF connecting ministers and congregations. CBF will provide financial literacy education to the pastoral and congregational leadership in their region.

CBF Fellows: The CBF Fellows program assists young clergy who are in their "first-call" in making a healthy transition from seminary to congregational ministry. This is a cohort-based learning of 12-15 first-call pastoral leaders. Fellows are immersed into the full spectrum of leadership development learnings including the Workplace Big Five Instrument, Bowen Systems Theory, Adaptive Leadership, Improvisational Skills, as well as personal and congregational financial principles. CBF Fellows are also eligible to apply for a MEI grant.

CBF Church Benefits is preparing for regional events for retirement planning and financial education. These events would include many of the same materials used in our Ministerial Excellence Initiative training (MEI). The benefits of the MEI program and its goals and objectives would be highlighted in each event. In addition, CBF Church Benefits events would include material related to financial issues and planning in its communication plan including a new newsletter and blog effort. The intention is to extend and enhance MEI efforts. Learn more about CBF Church Benefits here.

Teaching Resources

CBF Church Benefits Guide to Minister Compensation is a resource prepared for the churches in a practical way so that the assets of the congregation will be balanced, competitive, and appropriate and include a well thought out compensation and benefits plan that communicates a congregation’s care, concern and appreciation for their ministers and staff. This resource along with co-branded tax and payroll guides provided in cooperation with ECFA provide a significant source of information and training to our constituency.

Financial DNA: Grantees and their spouses can complete an online survey which reveals their personal financial profile. In just 15-20 minutes, participants can use this free tool to get a closer look at their financial behaviors of which they may have been unaware.

Virtual Online Library: The Ministries staff of CBF in conjunction with a group within the Ministries Council will oversee the initiative's Virtual Online Library of Teaching Resources. Links to recommended resources, video blogs and presentations from CBF events and gatherings will be included for those unable to attend. CBF will also post grant information such as grant program updates and testimonies by grantees and educational program participants. Click here for virtual library.

Lake Institute Events - These opportunities will teach fiscal expertise and sound strategies to enhance the financial literacy and management skills of pastoral leaders in relation to both personal and congregational needs. These trainings are mandatory for grant recipients and their trusted congregational advocates.

Regional Training Courses:

Each grant recipient will attend the specialized Regional Training Courses, The Pastoral Leader and Personal Finance and The Pastoral Leader and Congregational Finance designed in collaboration between CBF and The Lake Institute teaching faculty.  These one-day gatherings will include topics such as budgeting, generosity and how clergy financial health affects the church. Following the training, grantees will report new discoveries and lingering questions.  These one-day gatherings will expand the conversation and learnings into the various regions of the Fellowship.

Cultivating Generous Congregations (CGC) Conference:

During this three-day conference, participants will delve more deeply into theological grounding, best practices, and strategizing to lead congregations to become a more generous stewards of their resources. This will occur twice a year in strategic regional locations to encourage participation.

 

Events