From a young age, Ken Moon heard a call from the Lord to a life of ministry. For nearly 40 years, he and his wife dedicated their lives to answering that call as they served in rural churches in Georgia and South Carolina. But when unexpected health problems brought his ministry to an early end, he had little left to provide for himself and his family.
Too many pastors today — across evangelical denominations — find themselves in Ken’s shoes. Research published by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found that 80% of America’s pastors who serve in small or rural churches are facing “significant financial challenges.”
And with strained operating budgets, many pastors report challenges securing long-term financial stability. Of those surveyed, 92% of pastors expressed concern about their lack of savings to retire.
Like many pastors, Ken willingly sacrificed many comforts and devoted his ministry in rural areas where many needed to hear the Gospel. But while his ministry had an immeasurable impact on his community, the inability to prepare for retirement because of inadequate compensation during his ministry years left his future at risk
Thankfully, Christ once again used the body of believers to step in and provide for Ken and his wife to avoid falling into poverty through Mission:Dignity®, a ministry of GuideStone® supported by Southern Baptist churches and individuals nationwide.
“This is the most difficult thing we have ever had to do — asking for help,” Ken shared with us. Both he and Marilene were overjoyed to learn they had been approved. “Had it not been for the leading of the Holy Spirit to the Mission:Dignity ministry, we cannot imagine what would have happened to us.”
The financial assistance the Moons receive each month from Mission:Dignity empowers them to pay incoming medical bills. It also assures them of the love and care from their Southern Baptist family — brothers and sisters in churches large and small, urban and rural — whose gifts make this ministry possible.
“All these years, you’ve been with us through so many ‘barely’ making it times,” continued Ken. “We thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts for ‘being there’ for us. We thank the Lord there is a ministry like Mission:Dignity that helps and cares about the older saints of God.”
Around the country, pastors like Ken pour out their lives for the Gospel, sacrificing their time, resources and too often even their finances to advance the Kingdom of God.
In 1 Timothy 5:17, scripture teaches that these leaders of the church are “worthy of double honor.”
Last year alone, Mission:Dignity provided financial support to more than 2,800 pastors and widows. Not only does this support provide practical assistance to pay for food, housing, and medication, but it also extends the honor we, the church, owe these dedicated servants of the Gospel.
Finishing well in ministry is a gift, and there are two parties who can help extend it.
The local church, which calls its leader, should maximize resources to also ensure the pastor and family can live and serve with financial security. We are making progress as many churches today recognize their responsibility to show the value of a minister through generous financial support. When a minister's family lives with the financial security that comes from adequate compensation, reliable insurance and a solid retirement plan, they are free to serve without financial pressure and anxiety for the future. This kind of financial security builds resilience so the servant of Christ can serve well and finish well.
Then there is the Church – the body of believers – who should be vigilant in remembering the many ministers who have dedicated their vocational lives in service of others. At GuideStone, we continue to honor their calling through love and provision where any semblance of retirement funds fall short.
After all, serving those who have served the Lord and served well His congregations isn't just good stewardship — it's biblical.
To refer someone to Mission:Dignity, to apply for assistance, or to give, visit MissionDignity.org.
Dr. Hance Dilbeck is the president and CEO of GuideStone. He joined GuideStone in July 2021 as President-elect and became President on March 1, 2022. Dr. Dilbeck came to GuideStone from the position of executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists since 2018. Prior to that, he had served as a pastor in Oklahoma churches for 30 years, 15 of which were at the Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. During that time, the church tripled in size even as it took part in planting 32 churches. He has been an active participant in denominational life, having served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Oklahoma Baptist University, Southwestern Seminary, and the International Mission Board through the years.
Dr. Dilbeck holds his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and both his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Julie have three married sons and eight grandchildren.