Because our congregations run on money, it’s tempting to bring–along with it–assumptions about how money operates in other parts of our lives. We go to work and we get a paycheck. We pay the electric bill and the power company keeps our lights on. We pay at the first window and pick up at the second.
But when we fill out a pledge card, or put together the annual operating budget, the numbers represent more than goods and services. The numbers represent the ministry that our congregation is called to do in the world, and the numbers represent our financial commitment and accountability to that ministry.
Our covenants are our promises to one another about how we are going to walk together as we do that ministry.
Our pledge cards are promises about how we will help fund that ministry.
Letters of agreement are promises that paid staff and church leaders make to one another about how they will do ministry together and expectations around how they will be accountable to one another.
When we are under financial stress, we are tempted to slip into transactional mode. The budget looks like any other set of numbers. The simplest places to cut are the largest line items: staff salaries and benefits.
The financial stress is real, but our responses to the stress can be covenantal instead of transactional. As you begin a meeting where budget cuts are needed:
- Remind yourselves of who you are and the good that your congregation is already doing in the world.
- Remind yourselves of your vision of what more you hope to do to build the beloved community.
- Remind yourselves of the promises that you have made with one another to support your congregation’s ministry.
Then you will be ready for your discernment as leaders grounded in our covenantal faith.
-Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Congregational Life Staff