Moving Forward in Faith and Diligence
February 10, 2011
[The following financial update from the Church Treasurer is excerpted from the Ministerial Newsletter of February 10, 2011]
I would like to express my appreciation to our fellow laborers. This year has been difficult to try to predict, as historical numbers provide little value for projections of income and expenses. I am sure most of us feel a bit like Gideon as his numbers were whittled down by God. Spiritually, in faith, you know it will work—but physically and emotionally, you wonder how.
When times are good, it is easy to convince yourself that you have faith in God, when in reality it is often faith in money. When money becomes scarce, you find that your faith is tested and you learn that maybe you didn’t have the faith you thought you did. Scarcity produces faith, just as patience does. I have often asked, If God did things the way I would like, would it even be a work of faith? If I always knew the money was there because of big bank accounts, my faith would perhaps become a buzzword and not a reality.
God saw to it that the United Churchof God has been given a financially strong position to start our rebuilding process. Proverbs tells us the wise look ahead to prepare for the future. Like Gideon, I expect we will do more with less. We have to see this as an opportunity to trust God.
I am encouraged by the reports of many new people asking to come to church services. But since faith without works is dead, we do need to be diligent in cutting our expenses, while not harming our service to members or minimizing our focus on preaching the gospel. God will provide, but we still have to do our part in being stewards with His money. There are many ways to save.
Ideas to Limit Costs
For instance, staying in a member’s home instead of a hotel can provide fellowship while saving money. I know many of us, having raised our children, have spare bedrooms to share. I have thoroughly enjoyed staying with members on church visits. In some cases it wasn’t possible, but those hours in a hotel seem sterile compared to the hours spent with God’s people. I think, perhaps out of necessity, we will have to rebuild our culture to one of sharing instead of always “paying.”
I ask that all ministers do as much as possible to limit costs. I will be looking at expense accounts to see if there are better ways to do things. While we want our ministry to physically visit members, some less-serious counseling and visiting can be done over the phone or perhaps even over the Internet via webcams. This can diminish some of our mileage costs while still providing contact. Our youth and many of our older members are already connected this way, so it may be an effective way to stay closer to more people and eliminate driving time.
For church visits, many meals may be provided by members. If you stay with a family who provides meals for you during the visit, you might consider leaving a few dollars on the pillow to help them with the extra food costs and as appreciation for their hospitality. I would rather reimburse a $10 or $20 gift to a member left on a pillow, than a $40 or $50 restaurant bill. These things can generate savings and help create the culture of Christlike service that we are trying to have permeate the Church. Ministry and members alike have a high calling, and we will work together until Christ returns to give us new assignments.
I would appreciate any suggestions or tips you may have to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Thank you for your service to our brethren, your prayers for God to supply our financial needs and the wisdom to do it all efficiently and effectively. I know you are all working harder than ever. May God revitalize your spiritual, physical and emotional strength.