Every once in a while, someone comes up with a new wrinkle on church headaches.
A young pastor friend wrote to say the church he now serves went through a split a year or so before he arrived, and the smaller congregation struggles to keep up with the financial needs. Presently, they are running a deficit of perhaps $10,000 a year, forcing them to draw on reserves.
The church has a number of fixed expenses, he says, such as utilities and insurance that cannot be cut. Even if they eliminated all literature and supplies, the deficit would still not be covered. His suggestion is that they cut his salary by $10,000 a year. The leadership refuses.
They may not say it out loud, but I’ve talked with enough pastors through the years to know there are two key numbers they’re interested in: attendance and giving. Attendance matters because it’s one measure we have of the impact the church is having in a community.
Ironically, giving may actually be a better measure of the real heart change Jesus is having in people’s lives.
With that, let me share the data from the churches we’ve served. I have a feeling this is going to be very sobering for some of you.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Tim. 6:17 NIV)
You may be under a lot of stress right now because of the economy, but God still wants you to enjoy life.
As a Christian, you can enjoy life because your conscience is clear. You can enjoy life because you are secure within God’s love. You can have fun and laugh in church. You can enjoy friends who don’t manipulate you because they are learning to be like Jesus, and that means they are learning to look out for the interests of others.