I write this note of thankfulness and celebration to mark the day when the very first Converge pension check was deposited in our bank account — February 2, 2017. I am 71, my wife Noel is 69, and this monthly check will come, Lord willing, as long as one of us is alive. I made note of it in my journal with a huge sense of thankfulness to Bethel University and Bethlehem Baptist Church.
In 1974 I was 28 and took my first real job teaching Biblical Studies at Bethel College. For the six years I taught there, the school paid into a pension account. In 1980 I was called to pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis. Those six years of accumulated funds at Bethel were rolled into the BGC pension fund, and then for 33 years Bethlehem contributed to the Converge Retirement Plan for us. What a huge kindness from the Lord and from the church that they would care for us in this way.
I encourage every church to make such provisions for their pastors. I don’t believe in “retirement” as conceived in popular culture. It’s not a biblical reality. The point of a “pension” is not to fund a season of leisure between vocation and death. (In fact, I still work full time for Desiring God.) The point is to support God’s servant when earning powers may be diminished but untold possibilities of ministry remain. The aim is not to fund a decade of sloth but to create freedom for service according to one’s strength.
Our experience in these recent years of transition is that the staff of the Converge plan has been remarkably accessible and helpful. Things could not have gone more smoothly from our standpoint. Now our prayers are that we will be good stewards of these years and these funds for the glory of Christ, and that the rest of God’s shepherds will be cared for as generously as we are.
John Piper, Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary
John Piper is founder and leader of Desiring God and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota.