Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I wrote the following on Monday, October 25 and had forgotten that I had written about stewardship the month earlier. Oh, well, churches should talk often about stewardship.
As we approach the end of the year our church will be dealing with items we struggle with each year: money and membership.
The money is all about how our churches run: utilities, pastoral compensation, apportionment (UMC) and Our Churches’ Wider Mission (UCC), missionary support, office support, and building maintenance. So often we want to focus on holding costs down or cutting back in certain areas. We must always be faithful stewards of all that we are entrusted with. Sometimes, however, faithful stewardship might mean having to spend more money. This is especially true of buildings; if we don’t spend to keep them up to standards they rapidly deteriorate. Two items in our budget that will be going up and with which we have no choice is my compensation package: health insurance is going up 5% and my salary, which is the minimum required in the Minnesota Annual Conference, will go up 4.6%. Keeping everything else the same the total salary package increase will be 4.1%. One good piece of news for expenses is that apportionments and therefore OCWM will be going down a few hundred dollars for both churches.
However, there is another way of looking at a budget and every organization that uses a budget needs to also look at it in this way: revenue. For every profit making entity, revenues MUST exceed expenses if they wish to remain in business for long. This is true for a business of one person to a multinational corporation. For non-profits and governments revenue needs to equal expenditures. While churches are technically non-profits and revenues (tithes and offerings) should equal or exceed expenses, too often we only see expenses. What about our giving? By that, I mean all of us giving to the church. If all of us gave a tithe our churches would be awash in cash. Now, that doesn’t mean we would triple my salary and launch lavish building projects. We, the church, still need to be faithful stewards of what you and I give. But it does mean we could give and spend in Kingdom Building ways: education, missions, food shelves, evangelism, home building, etc. You and I have everything our churches need to work for God’s Kingdom. We have the money. We have the talent. We have the time. We have the gifts. We have the vision. How do I know all this? Because I believe that God gives lavishly for God’s Kingdom growth and we who are moved and led by God’s Spirit are God’s Kingdom.
As we look forward to Advent, Christmas, and the New Year, please pray about how you can increase your contribution to your church and God’s Kingdom in 2011.
Next month I’ll write about membership.