In this episode of 101 Questions Church Planters Ask, host Danny Parmelee answers the question, “Should Pastors Opt Out of Social Security?” Listen above, or read below for a summary of this episode’s key takeaways.



You need a religious objection to receiving social security benefits in order to opt out. IRS Form 4361 says,

I certify that I am conscientiously opposed to, or because of my religious principles I am opposed to, the acceptance (for services I perform as a minister, member of a religious order not under a vow of poverty, or Christian Science practitioner) of any public insurance that makes payments in the event of death, disability, old age, or retirement; or that makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care. (Read the entire form here)

So while it is more financially advantageous to opt out of social security and, say, invest in the market instead, the question of opting out of social security is not about whether or not it is a “good investment.” It is a question of asking yourself, “Am I truly ‘conscientiously opposed to’ making social security payments, or receiving social security benefits?”

Consider asking yourself the following questions in advance of your decision to opt out of social security:

1. Was I conscientiously opposed to accepting a COVID stimulus check, or PPE program benefits? If you accepted those benefits, then likely not.

2. Will you be able to preach and teach with consistency in your message, when you preach to your people about honesty and integrity in finances and taxes? Consider Jesus being corned by the pharisees on paying the imperial tax to Caesar, and His response.

 While we live on this earth, we are caught in a tension. There will be systems and structures in this world– taxes being one of them– that we have to live within and operate within. Our true allegiance is to the Lord’s Kingdom, and Jesus calls us to live on this earth with patience, integrity, love and grace.

So my opinion? Just pay it.