Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It grows where?
The Boston Granddaughter recently discovered the joy of fall apples. She was surprised to find out that they grow on trees!
We all know about something green that can't be picked from a tree and seems to be more challenging to find anywhere lately. Like many churches, our giving slumps some during the summer. (Can you spell 110? In the shade?) In addition, it's the time of year with the largest expenses, like camps, mission trips and VBS. That doesn't even factor in our potent electric bills during the hot months.
Every year, we seem to get back on course in the early fall and have been blessed with great financial stability. We don't say too much about finances. (We aren't shy about it -- I preach a very "no holds barred" series on managing money each year -- and we emphasize that we serve a generous God who wants us to do likewise.) Well, we aren't bouncing back as usual this Autumn.
Our attendance is stable, about the same as last fall. That means a lot, because we have a ton of families from the military and Homeland Security who attend and this was a HUGE attrition year for us. The fact that God has given us enough new people to replace those who left is significant. The money, though, has slowed down. It could be the economy. Or the time gap between attending and faithful giving. Whatever the reason, we are forced to make adjustments.
Enter Josh. Josh is a fairly young guy who spent ten years flying helicopters in the Marines. Josh was the surprise applicant when we told the church we needed a new Office Manager. Josh has capably been learning to manage our day-to-day budget. Now, Josh is getting his baptism of fire. He didn't create this mess, but he somehow feels it must partly be his fault. I asked him to bring me a report of exactly where we stand. He brought that report to me yesterday, along with projections and prognostications based on past performance.
This is where it gets funny. Imagine Josh, still with a buzz cut, maintaining much of the bearing and control common among "The Few... The Proud..." Josh, the faithful listener to right-wing radio talk shows. Josh, the tall, strong, macho guy that I thought would strangle me when I quipped (joking) that I was voting for Hillary in the primary. Josh, I am certain, has lost sleep over our finances. What can we do? Where will this lead?
"The thing that concerned me most," he said, "was that I knew we would be okay if we could just raise church taxes. Oh, no! I've become a Democrat!"