Dear Pledging People:
It sounds like the beginning of a joke: “An accountant, a treasurer and a preacher… (walk into a bar?)”… no, sit down to discuss church finances. That’s what happened this past week in my office as we started the preliminary draft of our 2018 budget. The great news is that the expenditure side of the ledger is in good shape. Since 2011, FPCLG leadership has made several important decisions regarding staffing and other budgetary items resulting in a preliminary 2018 budget 14% smaller than 2011 expenditures. That’s great news, because our reliance on capital reserves is well under control. This is also great news because, despite a smaller staff, projected pledged receipts for the remainder of 2017 appear to be on track with 2011. [For those who read an earlier version of this post, my initial numbers were in error. As I predicted someone quickly informed me. I apologize for failing to run my analysis past those who would have corrected my mistake before I posted.]
I know many of you have not made it to this paragraph; you’ve already scrolled on to the next item in your e-mail feed because you’re not a numbers person. So, let me put this in simple terms: FPCLG is financially stable.
I realize the danger in making such a confident statement—stability can create complacency. We still have a few dozen outstanding pledges, and I do not wish to imply that we don’t need them. But I’m confident that all of you understand finances; just because you’ve paid all your bills doesn’t mean you can quit your job.
All this leads me to a very personal confession. I often substitute financial stability with mission accomplishment. Financial homeostasis isn’t the purpose of a church; it is necessary for long-term institutional maintenance, but we do not exist for the purpose of funding our continued existence. We exist for the purpose of “inviting people into a life of meaning and purpose in Christ” (see the home page of our website, https://www.fpclg.org).
Our financial picture permits us to have a place to which we may invite people, but a place is not a life any more than a house is a home. I may invite you over to my house, but that’s not the same as inviting you into our home—one involves an address and furniture, the other involves relationship and heart.
Here’s where I want you to know the budget surplus for FPCLG. Members of our community are risking far more than financial contribution—they are risking themselves in difficult conversations about purpose and meaning; they are making choices with their time to benefit others; they are discovering assets of love they never knew existed; they are finding wealth and bounty by discovering how their meaning and purpose in Christ knows no deficit.
Now that financial stewardship season is nearly behind us, I am challenging myself to an Advent of spiritual stewardship. Here my pledge card reflects a very different ledger. As the year unfolds, will I find the capital of courage to interrupt derogatory and degrading conversation? Will I invest my time in sharing interest in someone who is lost? Can I dig deeper to give real development to my portfolio of priorities? Will I pledge the resource of my values to find their return by inviting people into a life of meaning and purpose in Christ?
Building a budget to believe in, I remain with love,
Jonathan B. Krogh