In yesterday's story about running, I faced a different side of the "Are we almost there yet, daddy?" issue. It's one thing to have bored "young-uns" asking that question repeatedly as they bicker with their siblings in the back seat. It's quite another when it's we adults who are huffing and puffing up one of life's steep hills.
Such was the case on Sunday at our kids' church in the city where they live. We had just been a part of a great service in which I enjoyed the sweet aroma of God's presence and during which our grandson Zoodle was dedicated. After greeting some other attenders, I sat down in a chair against the back wall. Pastor Kenny was sitting next to me and we struck up a "preacher-talk" conversation.
I have known Kenny and his wife Michelle for some years now, but it has only been about two years since he transitioned to the role of pastor in their church. Kenny asked a question related to managing church finances and, in the course of the discussion said, "I'm concerned about how we are doing financially. We saved money for moving into our own building (a great space where we now sat), but I'm afraid that it's going out faster than it's coming in."
In other words, "When will we get there?" "There" is that wonderful, often mythical, place where our current difficulties will dissipate like mist burning off a corn field in the hot, morning sun.
"I've been pastoring a long time," I said, "and our church has never outgrown financial stress."
"Really?" Kenny asked with a sigh. "You mean this is normal?"
"Our staff meets every workday at 9 a.m. just to pray for God's provision," I added. "I have learned that, the times when we seem to be flush with cash are usually because God has already started to supply for some as-yet-unforeseen need."
Their church is a bit smaller than ours and it helped Kenny to see that the problems never really go away. Experiencing them is part of leadership.
And, as in this case, they often have nothing to do with the overall health of the church. This church struck me as being pretty healthy. I met God in worship. The loving spirit of the people was contagious. The church is full of young families and more little kids than you can shake a stick at. I fully expect them to grow and flourish.
Then Pastor Kenny and their leadership can face more challenges!