From the Pastor's Desk

A Message from Our Pastor, Rev. Sharon Pajak

 

THE BUSINESS OF BEING THE CHURCH

In a recent planning meeting, the Leadership Board was joined by a few other church members (these meetings are open to all – every other Wednesday at 4pm in the lobby). In the course of the meeting, one of the members said, “we have to run this like a business.”
I’m not sure what he meant by that. A business, defined, is “the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce; trade considered in terms of its volume or profitability; a commercial operation or company.”
The church, any church, doesn’t really fit into that definition.
We offer a service, but we don’t charge for that service. The “product” we offer is intangible – it’s a relationship with the living God who wants to forgive our sin and welcome us into eternal life. It’s a connection of imperfect, flawed, sinful humans trying to get closer to God by worshipping and serving and studying and fellowshipping together.
Because of this, we don’t have a confirmed income stream. We have pledges – but fewer than 25% of you actually pledge, actually say, “I’m going to give this amount to the church this year for the purpose of resourcing the ministry we do.”
We take in offerings ~ and many folks are faithful in their giving, never missing a date. But most of us (me included) miss a time or two, we fall behind because we were not at church ~ travel, illness or busyiness got in the way ~ and sometimes we don’t make it up. The church has not, never once in the 50+ years we have been in existence, received 100% of the funds pledged.
And since coronavirus caused us to stop in-person worship, we did not receive “loose plate” offering – those funds from people who don’t pledge but give when they are here. We made plans last year in anticipation of those funds ~ and they fell short by more than $20,000.
Because the church must exist in this physical time and space, it requires things like utilities and maintenance, repairs and insurance. These are fixed costs. We have paid staff – most part time, and beginning in July, it will be all part time. These are fixed costs, much like your mortgage or rent, your utilities, insurance, food and clothing. Necessities.

The majority of the people in the church have an income of some kind: employment, or social security or retirement benefits or investment disbursements. You know how much you will take in, and thus how much you can spend. The church does not know how much it will take in, and so must work to manage resources on a “cash basis” – we budget based on what we hope the congregation will give, and that (barely) covers our fixed costs. Beyond that, when there is a need, if there is money, we can do it. If there is no money, we have to either find it (a loan, a special gift) or do without – even when “doing without” means being without heat in 3 areas of the church right now (and that means no a/c either) because we simply don’t have the funds to replace 3 a/c units.


Giving is an act of faith: do you trust God to provide for your needs?


Giving is an act of gratitude: do you love God enough, have enough gratitude, to give joyfully to the work of the church?


Giving is an act of outreach: do you love your neighbor enough and want to provide for ministry and mission that will enable others to hear the good news and come into a relationship with God?


Right now, Desert Chapel is limping along, financially.
What role do you play in this business of being the church?