Giving and Generosity (Chapter 9)Subscribe
One of the five most pressing issues facing small churches identified in a survey of EPC ministers was "resources." Participants said, in summary, "A large proportion of small church's income is devoted to basic staff and building expenses, leaving little for programs and outreach. This, along with scarce human resources and sometimes a less than adequate meeting place can lead to a survival mentality, stretching the pastor financially, physically, and emotionally." Callahan says, "There is always a shortage of personnel, inadequate supplies, and hardly ever enough money" (p. 288). The remarkable thing is that this shortage of personnel, supplies, and money is what you find in a small, strong congregation.
The key is the attitude we have toward our resources. Are we approaching them with a hording, conserving, survival mentality or with a spirit of generosity? Are we shaping our mission according to our budget or our budget according to our mission? "Small, strong congregations focus on misson, giving development, and budget--in that order. Small, dying congregations focus on budget, giving development, and mission, in that order" (pp. 284-285).
This material would have promoted some healthy discussions among the leadership of the small church I pastored. We did fairly well at annual giving budgeting accordingly. I can't say that mission drove our budget. We were in rented facilities, and we didn't do too badly giving over and above toward a building fund, even though there were no blueprints. I likened it to a family setting aside money for a downpayment on their first home, even though they didn't know exactly when or where they would buy. As I read Callahan, I wonder if we put a future building too high on our priority list. The people of the little church were generous, but I wonder how much more we could have been done if mission had driven our budget and we had opened up the other channels of giving.
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What has your experience been with Callahan's six doors of giving: spontaneous, major commuity Sundays, special planned offerings, short-term major projects, annual, enduring gifts (p. 276)?