|I confess to being confused. Not possessing a mathematical mind, nor a knack for financial theory, I am constantly mystified by the economic news I hear every day. At times the reports seem rather heartening. At other times we seem to be staring into the abyss. |
I am reminded of President Harry Truman who felt he was receiving conflicting advice from the economists of his day. He said his questions were always met with responses like, “Well, on the one hand, we could do this, but on the other hand we could do that.” Truman groused, “I’d give my eye teeth for a one-handed economist.”
I feel the same sort of frustration when I look at our church’s financial condition. While I do not know, nor will I know, what any person or family pledges or gives to FCC, I do know that many of you have stepped up to the plate this year and increased your giving. Many of you have been faithful to that extra $740 we said would pull us out of our budget shortfall (if every pledging unit did so).
Yet, our overall giving for the year is way down. Forget the “faith budget” we passed back in January. Current giving is not even enough to maintain the status quo. I have been a pastor long enough to know that a drop in giving is usually an indication of widespread dissatisfaction with
|the pastor, the staff, the direction of the ministry, and/or the congregation in general.|
However, that assessment doesn’t feel right for us these days. Sunday attendance held relatively steady over the summer and has been excellent for the last few weeks. We have more children and youth enrolled in Sunday School than ever before in my tenure here. We recently commissioned fifteen deacons who are already making an impact on our life together.
I could go on, but the point is clear. FCC is not a church on the skids. So how do I account for the financial shortfall? I’m not sure. Perhaps it is the slowdown in the economy catching up with our families. Perhaps people are worried about their livelihoods. Perhaps it’s a combination of a hundred different factors.
Of this I am sure: Jesus said “From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Aside from the fact that all of us are wealthy compared to most of the world’s people, you and I have been entrusted with the most incredible gift of all — God’s grace in Christ. Gratitude for such a gift should be woven into every aspect of our lives, including our financial priorities.
If our monetary issues are linked to the horrible economy, there is little we do can do about them. But if they are related to priorities, gratitude, and discipleship, then you and I are the only ones who can do something about them.