24 Sep 2019

Reignite Your Passion with a Personal Ministry

Stevonne German

“I have been pastoring for several years, but I have something God put in my heart that I want to pursue.” I’ve heard this from many pastors this year. They all love being pastors and they are true shepherds of their flocks. However, there is something else growing inside them: a book, a worship album, and so much more.

A lot of the pastors we talk to at StartCHURCH are gifted, but they don’t have an outlet. A handful of them may even say they are tired and ready to close down the church because the fire is not there anymore. But what if you could light that fire again? 

What if you could extend the vision God gave you and not only pastor your church but also pursue your personal goals that God put on your heart? Would you take the steps necessary to get there?

The connection

Any pastor will tell you that at some point in their lives, God gave them an instruction to start a church. They either willingly accepted the call or may have been a little reluctant, but they did it because God called them.

Deeper than that call, some pastors believe God has given them a specific calling to a specific area in the ministry. For some, it is worship.; for others, it is truly the community. For a handful of pastors, it is educating people on a deeper level. Whichever specific area, they yearn to move forward. The desire to build the Kingdom by providing a connection to the Lord is present in each of those pastors.

So, what do they do? They begin the work of starting a church. In some cases, they find StartCHURCH, and we create the documents that will build a firm foundation they can build on. If you are a pastor and are in this phase of the journey, give us a call at 877-494-4655 and ask about our StartRIGHT Service.

The disconnect

Now let’s fast forward five, seven, even ten years down the road. The same pastor is on this journey and the church is doing well. The church uses a bookkeeping service, so all of the finances are top shape and audit-ready. The departmental structure is fully functional, and the pastor is truly preaching on service days and serving others. He is smiling on the outside, but on the inside, he is feeling like something is missing.

The pastor has thought of writing a book, creating an album and maybe even doing some mission work. But how can he do this? He has been invited to speak at several locations, but how can he make the time to go? He is pastoring the church he started. He finds himself hitting a wall but can’t explain what he is feeling. Now he is just going through the motions. Even though he is still passionate about pastoring, he is contemplating the next phase.

The fire in him is dying down, and he needs a spark. In a sense, he’s burned out. How can pastors, like this one, relight the fire inside them? How can they be both a pastor and pursue their personal passions in the ministry as well?

The reconnect

Think of Bishop T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyers. They both are pastors of their churches, but they are also writing books, making movies, and so much more. How are they accomplishing this? By starting a personal ministry. More and more pastors are pursuing this avenue. Why? Well, there are a few benefits that stand out:

  • Generate a second stream of income
  • Pursue a secondary platform in ministry
  • Gain tax benefits

Now, in reality, there are many more reasons than those listed above, but most reasons typically fall in one or more of those three categories.

Generating more income

Many pastors in the twenty-first century are bi-vocational. This is because most of the churches pastors shepherd cannot afford to pay them a salary that can sustain their basic living needs. So, pastors work their day jobs and afterward quickly shift gears to prepare for service or make a hospital visit. They go home to spend time with their families and then do it all over again. It can be taxing trying to juggle so many hats, but if they had a ministry that paid them a salary, both “jobs” of pastoring a church and their personal ministry are now Kingdom-focused.

While doing a research project over the summer, I had the honor of speaking with several pastors. Of those I spoke with, 90% told me they had a desire to write a book but had no time. I kept asking the question, “What if you could make time?” Every one of them said, “I would start today!”

There is a great desire within many pastors to have a personal ministry that will give them their time back as well as generate a secondary income. Is this you?

I’m Ready to Start My Personal Ministry!

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Secondary platform

Many of the same pastors I spoke with over the summer not only wanted to generate a secondary income, but they also wanted to pursue something they enjoyed: writing, singing, teaching and so much more. But again, they didn’t have the time.

I spoke with a pastor in Atlanta who was excited to hear the outcome of a pastor starting a ministry. He was able to create a solid foundation that allowed him to author eight books and develop a platform for his worship team as well. Today, they record albums in a local studio. He generates more income from his personal ministry (i.e., book sales) than from being a pastor at his church.

Now, some of you may be thinking, why can’t I just write the books that are on my heart and pocket the profit? The simple answer is that you can, but you WILL NOT like the tax bill associated with it.

The reality is that when you don’t have an organizational covering, you do not have the limited legal liability that comes with it. Having a personal ministry accomplishes so much more than just generating income; it creates a corporate veil, an umbrella of protection, and allows you to use the tax benefits that are the birthright of an ordained minister in this great country. Let’s talk about those benefits.

Tax benefits

Pastors and ministers are dually taxed on any income they receive while operating in that role. What does that mean? If a pastor is making $100,000 per year, over $15,000 will have to be paid to the IRS for self-employment taxes alone.

However, the IRS allows pastors to apply for self-employment tax exemption, and it’s frankly one of my favorite benefits to see pastors take because it completely eliminates that tax bill once approved.

The process is twofold though, and many times we see a pastor will apply for it and think they are exempt, only to find out that they are not since they did not complete the second step. If you plan to or have already applied for self-employment tax exemption, you must do the following:

  1. Apply using Form 4361.
  2. Sign the letter the IRS mails you and return it to them within 90 days of the date on the approval letter.
  3. File the approval letter digitally and physically once received.

The IRS is not going to jump at the opportunity to help you not pay them, so it is imperative that you complete all three steps listed. Some of you may be wondering if you are actually exempt. Not to worry. Give the IRS a call and ask to speak with the exemption department. They should be able to look you up in the system and confirm whether or not you are exempt.

CAUTION: The hold times are long, so it is best to try them earlier in the morning. Remember, not everyone who picks up the phone is going to be patient and willing to help, so before you call, pray for favor to get real-time results.

A good rule of thumb is this: if you do not recall receiving a letter to confirm that you want to opt-out of self-employment taxes on your ministerial income and sending that letter back, you are more than likely not exempt. If you are not exempt and have been filing your taxes as if you were, there is a good chance you may owe back taxes. If so, those taxes are subject to penalties and fees for each year unpaid.

If you need to opt-out of self-employment tax, give us a call at 877-494-4655 to learn how you can get this wonderful tax benefit. 

Need Help With Opting-Out of Self-Employment Tax?

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The good news

Starting a personal ministry does have its perks when it comes to taxes. Why? If you are going through StartCHURCH, your new ministry paperwork is going to come with a new ordination as well. Many people do not realize that there is a two tax year window of time once you receive your first $400 in ministerial income to apply for the self-employment tax exemption.

For example, in 2017, a pastor receives $1,000 that first year in ministry as an ordained minister. That pastor now has until the end of 2019 tax year to apply for self-employment tax exemption.

If he doesn’t complete the process before that time is up, the window is closed. Or is it? Remember, starting a personal ministry has its perks. Let’s say the same pastor calls StartCHURCH and creates a personal ministry because he wants to pursue more speaking engagements and will be receiving a second income because of this. We set up everything and provide the pastor with a new ordination certificate. Now, the window has opened again for that pastor. Why? Because the application is based on the date of the ordination certificate submitted. So, now an application can be submitted, and the pastor can reap the benefits of the self-employment tax exemption moving forward. Many pastors do not know this information, so if you are one or know someone who may need to apply, give us a call at 877-494-4655 and ask about starting a personal ministry. There is too much money going to the IRS that should be going to you instead!

The rebirth

Pastors want to serve God fully, and this includes using all their gifting and passions. Unfortunately, many ministry leaders don’t have an outlet to use them. What they usually need though, is some guidance.

After reading this blog today, I hope you will take the next step and rekindle that fire. Fall in love with the ministry again! Don’t forget to give us a call at 877-494-4655 and ask us, “How do I start a personal ministry?” You won’t regret the decision!

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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