The Forsythia is Blooming

I am strapped for time, but I wanted to check in. I’ve been sick (again!) and it is getting tiresome. This time it’s some combination of upper respiratory and digestive. I preached the entire sermon on Sunday trying not to cough uncontrollably. I managed to do it, but do not want to hear the tape! I bet I sould like I really did swallow a frog.

It’s a rainy day today and that really makes it feel like Spring. There was even some thunder! And now it smells so good outside…like earth and rain and freshness and new life. I love it. I’ve been freezing everybody at home by keeping all the windows open. I can hear a whole bunch of birds singing too. And at night, an owl hoots quietly nearby.

I’m beginning to come out of my wintery grumpiness. I think once I kick this virus (these viruses?) I’ll have my energy and motivation back. Then I’ll get the second wind I’ve learned to count on to get me through the rest of the year. The hard part is staying energetic through the stress of the Stewardship Drive and budgeting process. We are over halfway to our giving goal, but there is still a long way to go. I’d sure like to wrap it up, and to get next year off on a positive financial note. Part of my exhaustion this year is the on-going anxiety about money. It feels like all the Board has talked about all year. There is so much more a healthy Board should be doing.

Well, I have an appointment in a few minutes, so I need to run. Here’s to new life, Spring, renewal, and new energy!!!


4 thoughts on “The Forsythia is Blooming

  1. If you and your Board are at odds regarding money issues, it seems there is a very simple answer, namely study your bank statement and budget reports. If you have ample money in the bank to do everything you reasonably wish to do (not counting the inevitable pie in the sky dreams), and you have enough in reserve to handle a major emergency, and all your staff are happy with their compensation, then I would agree your Board is unhealthy.

    However, if this is not a true representation of your church’s finances, then perhaps your Board is being properly responsible in voicing their concerns.

  2. I agree that it should be relatively simple. Unfortunately, everything you suggest using as a reference point is subjective. The bank statements are fine and the budget is (now) balanced. However, because we had to do some extra fundraising, the Board has decided not to have an intern minister next year. (something I would say is a reasonable wish.)

    But rather than the details, I was speaking of an ongoing attention to worst-case scenarios. The truth is, in churches, you can’t wait until you have the money to fund the mission and vision. Very often, a congregation has to create the new program first, so that people can experience it. Whether it’s a new kind of service, a class, or a children’s choir…often people will be glad to give more once they connect with what is new.

    “If you build it, they will come…”

  3. Let me see if I understand you correctly (which I did not on the sermon entry, my bad). You rank having an intern minister as a reasonable wish, and you realized you had to do some extra fundraising to accomplish this? Which apparently fell short, so your Board dropped the idea?

    If I were an intern minister, which I am not, and we can all be happy about this, I would be nervous about accepting a post which relied on special fundraising each year to cover my wages. I would hate to take any job where my employer said they had to increase sales just to pay me. It would be even worse to take the job and then learn later about the special money efforts. That would be a large burden of guilt to carry around, and a large feeling of job insecurity.

    When you say people are glad to give more, this is true. But only if there is more to give. What is the average income of your congregation? Maybe they are already giving as much as possible? Blood, rocks, and turnips can make a bitter soup.

  4. The internship was fully funded in the budget, but then the pledges came in much lower than we’d anticipated. This year, we will not be budgeting on projections, let me tell you.

    Still, the money did come (more than we needed) and it seems to me the Board could have chosen to inspire the congregation to give to the vision of being a Teaching Congregation. The timing is tough and it would have taken faith and inspiration, but they could have tried. It was the congregation’s decision to become a teaching congregation and they could have gone to the congregation and said directly, “This is your vision. This is good for the congregation. We want to continue but we need a commitment that you will support it.” If they didn’t get the commitment–then let it go.

    Instead, they didn’t ask. They voted to discontinue the program. They took that decision to the congregation for a vote. We may have ended up there anyway, but I wish the process had included something that felt like faith in the program, in themselves, and in each other. Maybe we took the financial leap into this program too quickly, but maybe–with visionary leadership–we could have sustained our commitment to the program.

    The frustration I expressed in my post was simple enough. I want the board to talk about more than money. I want them to talk about the “big picture” leadership issues. I want the board to help articulate a compelling vision that will inspire the congregation. I want to be fiscally responsible too, but I want the vision to lead and the finances to follow.

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