According to The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, I serve as the “Pastor-in-Charge” at First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville.
What would a pastor’s equivalent job title be in the business world? CEO? COO? Building and Grounds Supervisor? Mailroom clerk? In the upside-down-so-that-it’s-right-side-up-world of God’s kingdom, “servant among servants” might do.
The church is both a divine creation and human institution. Paul said that the church is the body of Jesus Christ in the world. The Holy Spirit works in, thru, and sometimes despite us; but we are Christ’s hands and feet in this world.
As a human institution, the church is also a business. Church leaders serve as wise stewards of heavenly and earthly treasures. On our best days, we never forget that the church is GOD’S business. We don’t manufacture widgets. Instead, we make disciples of Jesus Christ.
FUMC of Lawrenceville has a $2.5 million annualized operating budget. (I made the mistake of doing the math, and it equals $6,850 a DAY!) This sounds like a lot of money because it IS a LOT of money.
The congregation has 2,900 members on paper. (Understand the phrase “on paper” serves as a huge caveat—we average about 900+/- people in Sunday worship.) Work the equation. A $2.5 million budget divided by 2,900 members equals . . .
$862 per member per year.
If everyone in our congregation tithes (gives one-tenth of our income to God), then the annual income per member equals $8,620.
Hmmmmm . . . that doesn’t sound right; and it’s not—but the figures are correct.
Here’s the bottom line: some people give generously and others begrudgingly. Still others don’t give at all. We respond in a variety of ways to God’s call to financial faithfulness.
In Exodus 36, Moses led the people in building the Tabernacle which was a mobile temple for God. So the leader issued a call for a free will offering to construct and decorate the Tabernacle. The people responded with enthusiasm. Out of their personal possessions, they donated gold, silver, gems, linen, leather, goat hair, spices, and oil.
Finally, the skilled craftsmen overseeing the project told Moses: The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done. So Moses had to RESTRAIN the people from giving any more.
This is every pastor’s DREAM! I can only imagine standing up on Sunday morning and saying: “We need to ask you to cut back on your giving. The offering plates are too heavy for the ushers to carry. The financial secretary cannot get it all counted each week. We’ve run out of offering envelopes, and the church administrator had to order more deposit envelopes. Hopefully we can get caught up in the next month, and you can start giving again.”
The Lord has given us ALL of the resources we need to do God’s work . . . and they can be found in our wallets, purses, and bank accounts. When Christian stewards practice financial faithfulness, miracles happen . . . in our lives, churches, and world.