There are many ways to check the spiritual health of a congregation, including attendance at worship, participation in congregational events, the abundance of volunteers for serving, and people who are eager to invite their friends and family to church.
But what about giving?
I once heard an older and wiser pastor tell me, “Scott, churches never have financial issues, only spiritual ones. You address the spiritual issues, and the financial ones will take care of themselves.” I have come to believe this to be true at Christ Lutheran.
At the end of September, we have received 99.04% of our budgeted income. At the same time, we have spent 95.22% of our budgeted expenditures. That is remarkable to have a $3.1 million income and be that close in our financial management. I would like to point to an amazing Finance Committee that monitors every dime and pays monthly attention to all the details, but that’s not it. I would like to thank the staff for watching their individual budgets closely to not overspend, but that’s not it. As crass as it may seem, this is one more barometer of the spiritual health at Christ Lutheran.
And I would say that we are very healthy!
When you fill out your Intention Card each year, we pay close attention to it. We don’t add a fudge factor or second guess your commitments. We trust you. We assume that you will make good on the amount you put down. And you do. After twenty years of doing this, we know that if a person puts down a number, they complete that amount between 99%-101%. These cards are very important to us as we try to be good and faithful stewards of these trusted resources. The more I can encourage you to return your card, the more faithful we can be with our financial plan.
Please return your Intention Card this Sunday, October 20.
I don’t want to suggest that giving is the only means to check the spiritual health of a congregation, but it is a significant one. Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also. You have entrusted to us the treasures of your money. But you are doing far more than that. You are also sharing with us the gift of your hearts. We don’t take either gift lightly.
Thank you for the trust. Thank you for the generosity. Thank you for sharing your hearts. And as your doctor, I’ve checked it out and I am happy to report that your hearts are in the right place. You are spiritually healthy.