I am a person that likes to “cut to the chase.” Even though I make my living speaking in 20-30 minute segments, if I had my druthers, I’d say what was on my heart in as little time as possible. Truth be told, if you pay attention to the sermon previews that I do in advance of each Sunday’s sermon, then you pretty much have the gist of what God has given me to say. The rest is just “filler” – stories and such that I hope will allow you to take the message with you and put it into practice the coming week. After all, what good is a word (even one from God) if we don’t see it expressed in everyday life?
So, let me “cut to the chase” in terms of where our church stands financially to this point in the year. Our cash flow is in remarkably good shape; as good as it’s ever been for the middle of the summer. Thanks to the faithfulness of our people and the shrewd management of our staff, our bottom line is in the black; in fact, it would be the envy of any congregation. But I do see some potential storm clouds on the horizon. Our weekly receipts have continued to track short of our budget needs in recent weeks, putting us in a posture where we will need a strong December to end the year to the good.
Now, you may be thinking, “That’s life at MBBC! We always see a bit of a downturn in the summer months when people are away, which always reverses once people return in the fall.” And that’s true. Over the past five summers I’ve served this church, I’ve most definitely seen that to be the case.
But what changes the equation a bit this year is that unlike in previous years, our church is fully staffed; and because our personnel budget comprises a shade over 50% of our total budget (a percentage smaller than most churches, regardless of size, and virtually all non-profits), we anticipate that we won’t be able to manage the revenue shortfall that we presently project without making cuts that could potentially compromise our church’s mission.
And that is the real reason this present trend concerns me. It doesn’t make much of a difference to me if we meet the budget or not; that’s not the real “bottom line” to me. The real one is our ability to do what God has called us to do. Our failure to seize the possibilities of what we have dreamed of doing in the areas of worship, outreach, missions, discipleship, and nurture would be a tragedy indeed.
The good news is that such an end can be diverted if each of us will do the best that we can do and give the most that we can give. It’s like the preacher who stood before his congregation in the face of a precarious financial challenge his church was facing and announced: “The good news is that I’ve located the resources to meet our challenge. The bad news is that they are still in your wallets!”
So, I’m asking you to join me in praying about our church’s response to our budget needs over these last six months of the year. I’m also asking you to review what you have done over these past six months and to see if it’s what you said you would do or is the best you could do. Finally, I’m inviting you to pray for our Finance Committee as they begin the budget development process for 2018, and how we can structure our church’s ministry plan in a year when we anticipate ramping up implementation of our Vision 2020 strategic plan. I’m supremely confident that we’ll do whatever we must do to be ready to answer God’s call, and I thank you for your willingness to join with us in “the chase” to getting to the place where Jesus needs us to be.
“You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7).