Friday, September 20, 2013

Faith the size of a mustard seed--the Presbytery budget deficit

This past Monday night I received an E-mail detailing the Presbytery’s grave financial situation.  The E-mail shared that the projected deficit for the Presbytery budget in 2014 is $180,000.  I was shocked at the size of the number. 
Chain of Lakes Church is funded by the Presbytery.  Our ministry has never been in better shape than it is right now.  We are poised to grow in numbers; we have some pieces in place that we’ve never had before.  However the optimism that we feel at Chain of Lakes will go poof if we receive a large cut in our financial support.   Every group that receives funding undoubtedly feels the same way.  The stakes regarding this issue are very, very high. 
My motivation for writing is not to criticize or be pessimistic.  I’m writing in the spirit of humility and hope.
I would love to see a Presbytery-wide conversation take place in how to reduce this deficit.  This is an opportunity for people in the Presbytery to come together to develop solutions.  It’s imperative that we pull together. 
So in hopes of starting a wide-scale conversation, let me share these thoughts.  I also hope that everyone in our Presbytery who writes a blog will also share some ideas.
What would happen if every Presbyterian congregation spent five minutes praying about the deficit in every Sunday worship service in October?  What if we set up prayer groups within every part of the Presbytery?  What if we set up prayer chains among our Presbyterian churches?  Let’s submit ourselves to God and listen to God’s direction.
What would happen if we created a message board on the Presbytery web site and encouraged people to offer solutions?  What if we challenged people to come up with 100 ideas to solve the budget deficit? 
What would happen if we tried to raise the entire 180,000 through a special offering from the Presbyterian churches on some Sunday in 2014?  Some talented group could make a DVD and every church could receive a visit from a rep from the Presbytery sharing the importance of this offering.  We could develop energy and momentum towards this special offering.  I certainly would be willing to go to churches and speak about Chain of Lakes and share how grateful our new congregation is at receiving financial support.
What would happen if we approached the five churches who might be leaving the PC(USA) and ask them if they would give $10,000 a piece that is over and above the gift they are planning on giving to the Presbytery as they leave.
Or what would happen if we went to the 70 current churches—I think that is 70—and ask them to give $3,000 to a special 2014 budget request.  This $3,000 would be over and above their current giving.
Any pessimist could share why any of the above ideas won’t work.  However even if folks feel pessimistic we only need faith the size of a mustard seed—that tiny amount of faith that can move mountains.
I’m not wedded to any of the above ideas.  I’m most interested in seeing a large number of people engaged in solving this problem.  I do know that we have tremendously creative people in our Presbytery who are skilled at coming up with solutions to complex problems.  We might be foolish to try one of these or many other outside-the-box ideas.  However I am a fool for Christ.  And I believe that others fools in our Presbytery can solve this problem.

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