The Board of Benefits Services (BOBS) provides security and support for RCA ministers and commissioned pastors, along with their spouses and families, from first call to final breath. One of the ways BOBS does this is through financial planning opportunities, helping pastors navigate student debt and retirement savings, among other barriers to individual and congregational thriving and well-being.
BOBS’ retirement program and educational opportunities are unrivaled, says Billy Norden, retirement and financial education coordinator. People outside the RCA have told him they long for the standards and quality of the denomination’s program.
“It is a complete game-changer for the flourishing of ministers and churches,” says Norden. “Our resources to provide ministers with financial planners and counselors has probably been our biggest impact program in the last two years. These are resources that ministers in particular have been searching for without success, until we’ve been able to curate and subsidize these resources for them.”
Bep Reeves, family ministries pastor at The Bridge in Johnston, Iowa, attests to the difference that financial planning through BOBS has made.
“Saving for retirement was always a goal of mine,” she says. “I was raised in a healthy financial environment, and my parents taught us the way it should be done, especially with savings and managing money.”
Then she was widowed at age 25, burdened with medical debt and figuring out how to survive financially.
“Retirement was the last thing on my mind. I knew it was important but couldn’t put more money away at that time. When you enter into these seasons of life where you know the way it should be done, and then life circumstances don’t allow for that, it weighs heavily on you,” says Reeves. “As I went to seminary and became a minister, retirement was always in the back of my mind as a looming thing, but there weren’t the resources at that time.”
After getting remarried, she and her husband were focused on the present—blending their lives, raising kids, and paying off student debt and making house payments. When life (and debt) settled down a little bit, Reeves and her husband were ready to maximize their income and start saving for retirement, setting themselves and their children up for success in the future.
Admittedly, neither of them knew what they were doing in that field. Then Reeves heard about a financial planning opportunity with Everence Financial, one of BOBS’ partners. The two signed up and were paired with Chad, a financial planner.
“What was most obvious was that he knew ministry, he loved the Lord, and he wanted the best for us,” says Reeves. “He helped us to see we didn’t need to be ashamed about anything, and he helped us to create a plan that allowed us to know exactly what we need to do to meet our goals. It felt like a sigh of relief, and I felt more educated and wise in my finances.”
That sigh of relief—and the confidence and flourishing behind it—is exactly what BOBS strives to provide for those who serve the church.