So, finance stuff has been tight (and tough) lately (at the church I mean). We knew before the fiscal year started that we would need to make some major budget changes and that the way do money now, in the long haul, would not take us where we need to be. So we brought in a new finance chair to help us make the changes that we need.
I don't know if you've tried it or not, but overhauling the budget is not an easy process. It's messy and tedious and Loooooooong. But we're working at it.
Well, in the meantime, we've hit a shortfall. I don't think it's because of anything specific (maybe it is...?) but I think it's more that the economy has finally caught up with us. Last year we were relatively unaffected, but this year we've hit the red zone. It's not huge and it's no where near where I know other churches have dipped to, but it is troublesome and worrisome and all that bad stuff, so we brought it to the light with the larger congregation and asked for some help to get caught up.
Then, sort of at the same time, we put on our big concert event (which we had hope to have at least 2000 for but were prepared for as many as 5000), except we only ended up with 500, which meant we didn't even break even. So next to the plea for help with the regular budget, we have a request in the church newsletter to help pay off our loans that paid for the event (made by church members). The event as a whole had gone really well and the things we had control over were smooth and great! But it is hard to keep people seeing that when there is a financial shortfall.
So, people are now talking (probably more like murmuring because I'm not hearing it....not directly anyway, not yet, but I have been on a honeymoon until yesterday...) and they are worried that the church is in financial trouble (and somehow when people hear that they freeze and don't want to give money because they think we'll plunder it or something...it's odd really...or maybe not so odd since that's what many of us think when someone asks us for cash...we fear they've already mismanaged their funds to get in the place they are and we don't want to "waste" money in such a way....)
Anyway, I spoke with a church leader today and he said "we need your help to get us out of this." and I thought, "good, at least they trust me to help with this." But I also couldn't help but wonder if it's my fault. Is it my fault that I helped lead a committee into putting on a big event that was so big that maybe it caused us to fall? Some interpreted the obstacles we hit along the way to the concert as God's warning to try and keep us from experiencing the "failure" of the concert; and yet others interpreted those same obstacles as the enemy trying to prevent an amazing event from happening in God's name. Which is it? Did I ignore God's warnings? Or did I see the enemy at work and encourage (rightly?) for folks to keep doing what we felt called to do in faith? and who is to blame? or do we blame anyone?
What about the general shortfalls of the church....are those my fault? Am I supposed to be doing something different? I'm guessing they are not my fault...though maybe I should do something different...(and I'm guessing that if I let myself believe that they are and I were to be in a church that was $20,000 in the hole or $40,000 in the hole that I might hurt myself or quit the ministry...so I probably shouldn't play into that....) But regardless, I can't help but wonder how I'm (as a still pretty green pastor) supposed to help my church out of financial trials and I am wondering how God offers guidance and discernment in these areas.
Any thoughts? Or even educated guesses?