Like many churches, ours has been in the midst of stewardship and budgeting. I had given up this pattern, but, because 80 percent of our congregation is new, I thought, before we started doing it a new way, we might want to learn how to do it the traditional way. All was going well, and 2015 promised to be our best year financially in a couple of decades.
Then, just as we were ready to vote on our new, expanded budget, which even included paying a pastor’s salary beginning in July, the bottom fell out of our economy. The preschool that has rented almost our entire educational building for many years informed us that they are consolidating into their other location and will move out in July. That announcement means the loss of nearly $65,000 in revenue, which is approximately 25 percent of our budget.
We suddenly went from excitement about the positive possibilities of finally being able to live into our new vision and mission, to scrambling in order to figure out what we can cut. I have to admit that I was bummed, but not quite depressed. After 24 hours, I began an internal list of all the good things this means:
- I won’t have to circle the block every morning to be able to park at my own office.
- Six babies won’t be screaming every morning in the room adjoining my office.
- We actually can use our own building for a change.
- There is a GREAT space that has been their playground that now can be our labyrinth or community garden or outdoor fellowship space.
- We can replace an expensive for-profit school that complained when we put up a Christmas tree with organizations that are congruent with our values and mission.
- We can take responsibility for our own life and ministry.
- I can reframe how I will do ministry next year and do it with a team, not more hours for a single pastor.
Yes, next year may be tough and a little scary, but it also may be a glorious opportunity for us to trust God. I know not every bit of bad news can be turned around and around until we find the good, but it is remarkable how often that is possible if we can respond with faith rather than fear.
Rev. Michael Piazza