When a retirement advisor from another firm suggested Rev. Rob Harrell switch to a plan with FCMM, he decided to pay attention.
“The advisor looked at what FCMM was offering, and it just made sense that it was the better way to go for pastors,” says the church leader, who’s shepherded his Austin congregation since 1990 and engaged with the citywide church movement for more than two decades.
The reasons for this recommendation were twofold, remembers Harrell, a member of the EFCA Board of Directors for the past six years. Though there had been some changes to tax law that weren’t favorable for church workers, the FCMM retirement plan allowed pastors to carry an important tax benefit into retirement, enabling them to designate a portion of their income as a housing allowance even after their formal ministry years had come to an end. Plus, as a nonprofit organization, the FCMM wouldn’t charge its participants hefty — or hidden — fees along the way.
These perks apply not just to male pastors, Harrell explains, but to women working in ministry as well. “Any licensed, commissioned or ordained officer of the church” is eligible to participate.
And while Harrell appreciates the way FCMM’s plan caters to the path he’s chosen, he also likes working with folks who share his values. “I know the people at FCMM through my service on the [EFCA] board, and they have the highest integrity. They understand ministry-minded people and they’re really watching out for those in full-time ministry.”
In the end, Harrell’s purpose in preparing for the future ties back to his church’s slogan: Soli deo gloria. To God alone be the glory. “As you leave a staff position,” he says, “you might move toward a time when you’re still giving your life away, but you’ll want to have resources set aside so you can be effective for the gospel.”