Excellence in Ministry

What is the Excellence in Ministry program?

At its core, the Excellence in Ministry program seeks to reduce or alleviate some of the key financial pressures that inhibit effective pastoral leadership, and improve the financial literacy and management skills of pastoral leaders through education (increasing their ability to provide capable leadership for congregations and ministries under their care).

Among other benefits, this program has the potential to:

  • Help pastors remain in and be more effective in ministry over a longer period of time
  • Benefit congregations by having more effective leadership and less turnover
  • Benefit the church by having pastoral leaders who are more engaged
  • Enhance the relationship between seminaries, seminary houses and foundations, and the church
  • Enhance long-term participation in Pension Fund programs

How does it work?



  • Educational events for pastors, seminarians, spouses and lay leaders
  • Individuals: Personal stewardship, budgeting, theology of money and dealing with debt
  • Employers: Congregational financial identity, budgeting and stewardship, and the congregation as an employer
  • Financial courses: Savings strategies, ministerial taxes, family and personal care, retirement and financial planning


  • Modest grants to pastors with 1-5 years of experience (funded, in part, through the Lilly Endowment grant)
  • Eligible participants may qualify for financial assistance for student debt relief or other points of financial stress
  • Grants made in two installments over the life of the program, after satisfying the participation requirements of the financial literacy program
  • Potential maximum of 20 participants per year (and possibly more if additional funds are raised)

How do we measure success?

  • Improved financial conditions among participants
  • Increased congregational health and vitality
  • Proficient knowledge of basic financial principles
  • Longevity in pastoral ministry
  • Reduced financial pressure inhibiting effective leadership

What ministry partners are participating?

  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana: Also invited to participate in the grant program, and has been in collaboration with Pension Fund from the initial invitation.
  • Bethany Fellows
  • Seminaries: Christian Theological Seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary, Brite Divinity School, Phillips Theological Seminary, Disciples Divinity House - Chicago, Disciples Divinity House - Vanderbilt and Disciples Seminary Foundation are all full participants in the proposed plans.
  • The Lake Institute for Faith and Giving
  • The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
  • Other ministries: Regions, Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, Division of Homeland Ministries, Hope Partnership, Center for Faith and Giving, NAPAD, National Convocation, Hispanic Ministries and The Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, International are participants and contributors.

Your continued prayers and contributions to this program will help sustain our work. If you're interested in giving to the Excellence in Ministry fund, click here to donate.

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