Special thanks to Dr. Tony, Larry, and Jim who all responded to the "Is it Me, or....?" post. Each of them asked good and healthy questions for any church leaders and I wanted to respond to those and then give an update.
1) The concert was not a fundraiser for the church. Instead it was a fundraiser for our mission work on the Gulf Coast--over and above what we spend to send people down there and apart from our general operating budget. We do have various fundraisers throughout the year, but they are not to sustain the ministries of the church--that comes from regular stewardship and tithing, instead they go to new or special ministries. (Though as a note, I would like for us to get to a place where our regular budget even covers "special" things).
2) The finance chair has been up on all the happenings. The trouble was not inattention, but rather one month of pronounced shortfall.
3) We are a 100% church, meaning we pay 100% of our apportionments each year. This comes off the top and is a commitment our church has had for years, with many thanks to HS who led us in that faithful stewardship.
4) We have a growing membership with new visitors each week. That being said, with many new folks, they aren't always financially committed to the church, but begin with attendance. We do do a regular stewardship campaign in the fall and encourage people to step up in giving each year.
5) Ever since I began full time ministry, I have tithed 10% and above. I believe that it grounds my faith journey and allows me to preach with integrity when it comes to tithing and stewardship.
6) Larry asked if we have integrity in our spending, I believe we do. Since I arrived, we have been working to shore up our accounting and do the required audits. We are faithful in that we do not spend more than we have, which is in many cases how we were able to stay in the black last year. That said, while we are faithful in how we spend God's money, we are looking at doing some new and different things so that we might better be able to grow the church with a strong financial foundation undergirding our work.
Now, as an update. I went to annual conference and spoke with a friend/colleague and she shared that when she got to her church they had a debt of $500,000---$250,000 owed to the contractor, over and above the mortgage, and $250,000 to the city. When I heard that I thought, "I would have cried and walked away." But then she went on to share how they negotiated some of the costs and paid it off. Then, we heard from our guest pastor from Korea about how they had raised $10,000,000 then $5,000,000 then $25,000,000 in order to grow the church and expand facilities. That pretty much just blows my mind. I know many churches have done and will do that, but it floors me.
I was humbled to hear their stories. Really, our $2000 seemed like the widows mite in comparison. I was struck with the need to pray for God to cover our needs and for us/me to truly turn this fully over to God.
Last week our secretary shared that we had received $1000 for the shortfall, this week I heard we had received another check for $1000. Then I was handed a $2000 check from someone else. She is relatively new to the church, but wanted to help too, so we applied some of that to the general budget to keep us a bit ahead of the curve and the rest to the concert shortfall.
I was amazed and awed at how quickly God provided when I stopped stressing and simply handed it over. I know it's simple and obvious, but money stuff makes me anxious and it was hard to just trust that it would be covered. But God has deepened my faith and challenged me in my faithfulness.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!