I have mixed emotions over what went on here at Our Saviour on Sunday. No, not at the worship service; that was pretty good, actually. But what’s got me feeling at odds with myself is what happened during the rest of the day. Let me explain:
New year means new budget. Every year since I was called to pastor here, we’ve seen the church budget shrink just a little more every year. I understand the causes, but that doesn’t make it any easier to learn how to try and do more with less. And still each year our budget has grown smaller.
But what’s more, each year our budget hasn’t been balanced. You heard me: for five straight years we’ve passed a budget that, when we’ve done the math and estimated how much money we could expect to receive in the coming year, we acknowledge ahead of time we won’t be able to meet.
This is the part of the story that bothers me. It worries me. An unbalanced budget doesn’t seem like a good business practice. A shrinking budget raises red flags for continuing future ministry. I wonder if I’ve led the congregation wrong, somehow. And I wonder just how long this church can continue on.
I don’t want this church to close down. Not on my watch. Not ever. Because people that I love are here inside the church. Not only that, but there are people I love out in the community who haven’t yet joined our family. Both groups need Jesus, both groups need His forgiveness, His providence . . . His life. And both groups are people that God Himself has placed me in relationship with, people of whom He has said, “Pastor, you just offer them what I have to give, and I’ll make sure that I give them what you have to offer.” And never once has God let me—or them—down. He’s always been faithful to His promises.
When I look at church finances and an ever-shrinking pile of money, I doubt. I fret. I worry. But when I look at the people I see their need for Christ, I remember His promises, and I simply believe and act.
Now you tell me which of those has a future.