Thursday, September 29, 2016

A non-meditation on cash flow and church life, by The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

One of the realities of parish life is budgets
If you talk to any pastor—any pastor or faith community leader—they will say something like “I did not go to [seminary/theological school/etc.] to have to deal with administration, and especially money!”
In fact, most faith community leaders have never had a single class in budgets or even stewardship (or promotion, public relations, or counseling).
Budgets and administration in general are not things I look forward to, but neither am I afraid of them. Nor am I “afraid” of Christian stewardship (there are other kinds).
And then there is the practicality of cash flow.
Cash flow is the way we describe the balance of income and expenditure. We all know what it is like to discover that we have too little money and too many expenditures at the end of the month. We can, usually, cut back for a time to make up for the difference.
Churches operate the same way. A church checking account is the same as a private checking account. We can only spend what we have taken in.
I have said many times that the leadership of St. Mary's Church has historically been very good stewards of what you share with us. (Note that the “us” is all of us, since we all are part of the whole.) We manage our resources—people, buildings and grounds, money—very well. Every once in a while the cash flow does not keep up with our projected expenditures.
That shortfall most often happens in the early fall. During the summer months some people are not as regular in attendance as at other times of the year, and/or they are not quite as conscious of their commitment to support their local church. Almost all of them “catch up” during the fall. In fact, the two months of highest income for churches is December and January, not because of the holidays, but because people are doing their end of the year balancing. Also, there are a few who pay their entire year’s commitment in January, for the calendar year following.
So: all of this is to say that the practicality of cash flow has come upon us. We need you to catch up, if you have fallen behind in your giving to St. Mary's Church. If you are not a regular contributor we encourage you to commit to such. In any case, please consider a special gift to St. Mary's Church during October so we can balance our cash flow.

The authors of the blog texts welcome comments, reactions, and critiques.