This article aptly describes the angst that local congregations are going through related to the economic crisis. The national recession is affecting people in the pew and they are responding by hanging on to what is left in their pocketbooks.
Pastors walk a fine line in encouraging members to give financially while recognizing the stress of the membership. I’m reminded of the adage “the Lord loves a cheerful giver, but He also accepteth from a grouch.” There’s not a whole lot to laugh about money-wise these days, but a chuckle every now and then does give a momentary reprieve on the anxiety. This ABP article, though, does relate the pain that is running through the body of Christ these days. I know several of the pastors mentioned in the story, plus the fact that our own congregation is dealing with the realities of the economy brings the meaning home.
No situation lasts forever, and I am trying to remain calm and encourage others to do the same. Still, the uncertainty and pain of the times are amplified by members who are losing their house because they lost their job and can’t pay the mortgage. Several members have been affected in similar ways and wonder how long things will remain this way. Others are looking for other employment. This is one area in which I have been dealing with on a personal and professional level.
Churches want to grow and have their budgets grow. More dollars translates into more ministries and more ways to reach people for Christ. It is hard to cut back but sometimes a necessary tactic to make it through these perilous times. Reading this article reinforces this unpleasant truth, but it also reminds congregations not to react with fear when making budget decisions.
Occasionally I’ll check out church websites and out of curiousity see how others are doing during this fiscal downturn. I find the evidence pointing to most if not all churches are running behind on their budgets and having to cut down on programs and expenditures. These are tough times to say the least, but as I read recently: “don’t let your suffering go to waste.” May God help us to be wise in sailing through these turbulent financial waters and doing all we can to throw out life preservers to those in need sinking in despair.