Board of Ordained Ministry

Indebtedness Guidelines

Basic Standards

Owe no one anything, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8 (NRSV)

“Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work?”
2008 Book of Discipline, Paragraph 336, #18, page 246

“Teach and model generous Christian giving with a focus on tithing as God’s standard of giving.” 2008 Book of Discipline, Paragraph 304.1.c, page 304

Romans 13.8

Theology of Stewardship

We United Methodists have in recent years begun to return to some of Wesley’s teachings and practices that we had long forgotten. Accountability is one of these practices and we embrace it wholeheartedly. Accountability in the area of personal finance and stewardship is one of the last frontiers. Maybe there is a reason there are 800 references to it in scripture — many more than about prayer or study or preaching. Our attitude toward money reveals something about our heart. So, as dCOMs begin to apply these guidelines, we hope and trust that what they are ultimately looking at is the candidate’s heart and readiness for ministry, all the while nurturing them toward holiness in heart and life.

Toward this end, we are asking District Committees on Ministry to begin to ask candidates applying for certification to write a statement of their personal theology of stewardship. This statement should include their understanding of how they practice stewardship in their own personal life, including their giving to the church and their initial thoughts about how to apply these principles in their own preaching and teaching in the churches they may serve. This theological statement will be made available to the entire District Committee on Ministry while the Credit Report only goes to the Registrar.

Please read these guidelines as tools for nurturing candidates toward a healthy and holistic life in which they can be an effective model and teacher of good stewardship and a generous financial giver to the church’s ministry. The trigger points are intended to initiate discussion and nurturing by the District Committee on Ministry, and not become a barrier in and of themselves. However, an inability or unwillingness to address the concerns raised could become a barrier to continuation in ministry. Likewise, extremely high debt or repeated violations of triggers 3-7 could become a barrier to effective ministry.

Management of Personal Finances

An individual’s ability to manage money is often a key indicator of a number of important personal and professional competencies. The lack of ability to manage personal finances can lead to serious impediments in ministry.

The reality is that the Church is sometimes embarrassed for individuals before they become embarrassed themselves. While we would encourage the goal of debt-free living, we realize that people must start working toward that goal from where they are. These guidelines are an effort to help develop some standards of what the Board of Ordained Ministry considers a manageable debt load so that an individual will be able to manage their debt with the anticipated income of a pastor starting in ministry, will be an effective model and teacher of good stewardship, and will be a generous financial giver to the church’s ministry.

Download PDF of Indebtedness Guidelines