Pastor's Library Fund

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Alert1201

Puritan Board Freshman
Greetings,
I have been reading PuritanBoard for a long time and finally decided to join today and ask a question. I am currently a bi-vocational pastor serving with two other pastors, one bi-vocational and another full time.

My questions are about monthly library funds for pastors. I am considering asking my two elders for a monthly allotment used to purchase books or other study materials related to my Sunday School and Sermon preparation. My question are these - how many of you out there have library funds, if so how much is given to you and those who do not have them, is there a reason why?

Please feel free to add any comments you feel are pertinent to this issue.

Thank You

In Him

Jeff Sulman
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
I do not at present have a library/books fund. (I too hope that we can begin something like that in the future but our church is small & limited on funds.)

One of the ways that I've worked around this is through free Bible study software (i.e., Bible Explorer and e-Sword) which have lots of free books. Monergism has a lot of free digital books for download (commentaries, Bible surveys, works of theology, etc.) PuritanLibrary.com is a gold mine, as is Grace Gems. Founders.org has a page with some reformed (baptistic) books, and you could also check out The Reformed Reader.

There's also books.google.com...download the old books, preview the new books.

One other option would be something like the IVP Book Club. You get a 30% discount on books, as well as 5 books at startup for $1.00 + s/h, but you've gotta decline the "selections of the month" or else it will cost you money!

Hope this helps.

By the way -- the moderators will say this pretty soon -- be sure to turn on your signature so we can get to know you! :)

Welcome to the PB!
 

Alert1201

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you Rev. Marsh,
I have used those resources before and will continue to do so. Plus living here in Dallas I have access to two very large theological libraries.

Thanks for the heads up about the signature. I just completed it.

In Him

Jeff Sulman
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
I have a library fund as well as a "continuing education" and a "nurture" fund. The continuing ed is for classes and books for classes, and the nurture fund is partly for when I purchase counseling books or discipleship books.

Without telling you what I get, from my experience with other pastors in the RPCNA the average range for a library fund is between $500-$1500 per year. Some more (some MUCH more), some less.
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
I'm glad that you're aware of those resources!

I'm guessing that since you have used e-Sword, you're also familiar with the "e-Sword Users" site?

I would love to live near a Bible college or seminary to take advantage of their library! :)
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I would ask them to consider a payment plan for logos bible software and a couple Reformed collections.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Plus living here in Dallas I have access to two very large theological libraries.

Don't forget the Baptists in Fort Worth - they have a nice library. And the Catholics probably have some resources at their university, as well.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Without telling you what I get, from my experience with other pastors in the RPCNA the average range for a library fund is between $500-$1500 per year.

That's awesome! But you don't get to keep the books if you move, do you?
 

Brother John

Puritan Board Sophomore
Without telling you what I get, from my experience with other pastors in the RPCNA the average range for a library fund is between $500-$1500 per year.

That's awesome! But you don't get to keep the books if you move, do you?

I always understood pastors library funds to be a "part" of their compensation, so the books would be their property. But I am interested to see the response of the pastors on the PB.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Since Tim hasn't chimed in yet, he gets an expense account as part of his compensation. It covers everything from taking a prospective member to lunch to books to conferences, etc. What he buys with it needs to benefit the church, but the books, etc. are his.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes...an annual allowance which exceeds what I usually claim! Not because I buy too many books but because I'm terrible at returning receipts! The books are mine.
 

ProtestantBankie

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems very strange to me (do forgive me). That Ministers are so often tied to certain funds.
If a Congregation allows $1,000 to be spent on books that will be the property of the Congregation and used by the minister that is fine.

But, why not just increase the minister's Stipend by $1,000 if it is part of his "deal"?
Why not give the Pastor a $1,250 soup allowance, $900 milk & bread allowance, $12,000 housing allowance &c.

A further problem is $1,000 in cash will result in the Pastor making a free-will offering or a tithe, whereas you can't give a chapter or set of pages as a freewill offering.

I think, we should just make sure a better stipend is paid.

Surely a Pastor will be able to manage resources better if he just has money rather than obligation to spend certain amounts of money on certain things?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
For some things, anyway. I have heard one pastor encourage others to talk to their elders about a book fund, because when the money isn't limited to books the pressure to spend it on other needs can be too great.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Expense funds sometimes avoid income taxes.
Yep. Tim pays taxes on whatever money is left over each year; it comes to him as salary. But expenses such as books and conferences (in his case) are tax-free under his compensation plan.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
But, why not just increase the minister's Stipend by $1,000 if it is part of his "deal"?

As noted, it's tax-advantaged. A $1000 book fund may be equivalent of $1200 or $1300 if after tax money had to be used. Good stewardship dictates structuring the package to minimize taxation. The pastor's standard of living should turn out to be higher than the raw numbers would indicate.
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
On top of my stipend I get $600 per year to purchase books or other study material. Originally it was stated that the church would retain ownership of the materials, but the elders decided that any books purchased should become my property.
 

ProtestantBankie

Puritan Board Freshman
But, why not just increase the minister's Stipend by $1,000 if it is part of his "deal"?

As noted, it's tax-advantaged. A $1000 book fund may be equivalent of $1200 or $1300 if after tax money had to be used. Good stewardship dictates structuring the package to minimize taxation. The pastor's standard of living should turn out to be higher than the raw numbers would indicate.

Of course Edward, I would not have it otherwise.

I was unaware of the US tax system.
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
Our church at present will reimburse me for books I need for study, i.e., a commentary. I may use it as I see fit (marking or highlighting in it). But it belongs to the church.

If I desire to own the book outright, I purchase it and simply write it off on my taxes as non-reimbursed ministerial expense.

I would love to move toward a pre-tax book allowance, but that'll be further down the road, D.V. :)
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
Ken, it's my understanding from our CPA that if I need a book for performance of ministerial duties, and my church does not provide it, then even as a "self-employed" guy, I am permitted to reduce my taxable income through writing that book off on the annual return.

For example, I need a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. I purchase said commentary, and the church for whatever reason decides not to reimburse me. I keep the receipt, documented appropriately, and will thereby reduce my taxable income in April.

I am certainly open to correction, however!
 
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