Saturday, June 30, 2007

Strangled by Red Tape

I have a friend who pastors a small church nearby with a budget of around $150,000 per year. Recently he told me me that he was having trouble freeing up $200 to pay for a few sessions of Christian counseling for a congregant who has finally agreed to seek help in dealing with deep wounds from the past. My friend wrote the check himself and is waiting to see if his church will reimburse him.

$150,000 budget ... but trouble freeing up $200 for a woman in need. Having been to his church, I don't think the people are themselves callous toward such needs; but rather that the system they operate in doesn't work well. Does this sound like an anomaly or is it all-too familiar in the institutional model of church? What's the cure?
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7 comments:

Brandon said...

WAY too familiar!!! They've got buildings to gather in and maintain, salaries to pay, but we can't meet the needs of the community. My question is, what's the point of such an institution? I'm not speaking against your friend or paid pastors, just the model of church that is largely ineffective due to poor stewardship.

Blessings...
Brandon

Lew A said...

I agree with Brandon... not only is this familiar, I would say this is the norm.

I have a question - why is your friend concerned about whether or not he is reimbursed? :)

God's Glory,
Lew

David said...

We've created a monster, stuck him in the closet, and then pretend he isn't there...

Jeff said...

I don't think it is all that uncommon, but I'm surprised that there isn't some sort of a discretionary fund in order to cover things like this.

I know for our church, we hate to have to make some sort of an impassioned plea at the end of the year to make our budget. But the scary thing is, though we hate to do it, most of our members are more than happy to step up to the plate when we do.

cindi said...

wow... this one actually hit a nerve with me, and reminded me of how much I have trust-issues with the institutional "church." I know there are many churches that are honest and incredibly selfless and missional with their finances (including the one I go to now), but boy have I seen ugly stuff in the past (gross abuse of the money people thought they were giving to the Kingdom of God). Anyhow, the only solution I have found over the last decade is to spend my tithe by being incredibly generous to anyone in need around me (especially the "least of lease"). I know its not the wholistic solutions, but maybe someday I will trust again....

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Paying $200 for counseling? I thought there is no consulting fee for Holy Spirit who is the the ultimate counselor :)
Anyways...
Acts 2:44-47 : And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

When do we get back to that 'normal' Christian life of meeting and sharing everything in common with great joy and generosity?

John Lynch said...

Hey Cindi, I'm beginning to resonate with your trust issues. Not that I doubt the intentions of the people who facilitate institutional churches... but I do question the institution's ability to retain the loving and judging kingdom heart and vision amidst the grinding cogs of administrative machinery.

I like your solution to spend your tithe by being incredibly generous to anyone in need around me. It's personal and relational and works to resist dependence on the institutional money-handling process. A faceless mechanism that tends to filter out direct relational contact between the giver and receiver, stealing the opportunity for loving exchange between them.