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Extra resources for Bring 'Em Back Alive
This very day, as I write, I have received a letter from the Episcopal diocese that carries my credentials. The letter portends a health cost crisis. ) Every congregation, every pastor, every judicatory will have a rapidly growing worry about this matter, no matter how it funds its medical insurance. Again, there is little churches can do directly: the problem is societal. If these costs are contained in our lifetime, if national universal health insurance is in place and proves to be workable, the rapid increases may come under control.
Those practices were a way that society's values quietly subsidized religious activity. How quickly those practices change. They seem quaint just one generation later. The only "pastoral discount" I count on is free parking at two local hospitals when I make pastoral calls wearing my clerical collar. Pastors' families have adapted to changes like this, partly by the rapid increase of two-income families in the manse or rectory. What would happen in your congregation if the pastor's housing allowance became fully taxable?
The Money Game In the area of financing religious institutions, the picture is mixed but overall no more encouraging than the membership trends. One very positive piece of news is that mainline church members have risen to new levels of generosity. Although there has been a significant decline in membership, the loyal members left are more and more generous to their religious institutions. Per-member giving has risen more rapidly than inflation. In the short term, more dollars are being given by fewer members.