“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
Good morning Beloved,
I pray you are all well and safe on this blessed day of Creation. I pray this knowing, as many of you know, that not everyone in our community is safe. The world around us swells with a variety of illnesses, violent actions, and financial unknowns. These concerns tear at our hearts personally while our worries for each other have become almost palpable in the air we breathe. It almost feels as if this time – this time is when we should be throwing on the sack cloth and lamenting before God. Begging to know what we can do…
Yet, the Truth is that God has told us what to do many times. His Truth has filtered through Her Word many times in the God-inspired scripture we know to be true. Its just really, really hard to do. That Truth is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” For, God will guide us to where we are meant to be, nay to where we have to be, in order to fulfill the plans God has in store for all of us. This truth is hard. The truth that sometimes we have to simply let go and trust in God.
I am reminded of this reality today more than ever as we discussed our troubling financial situation at the Vision and Leadership Team meeting last night. Specifically, we discussed the loss of Cliff’s Driving school, the rising inflation, and how it is afflicting everyone in our community personally. We also discussed the amazing engagement over the last year and subsequent burn out of many people in this church community. We looked at the reality of next year’s budget and agreed it looks bleak. From my insights alone, it looks bleak. But yet, I heard those words from Proverbs again and realized it is not my insights alone that matter. We must trust in God and come together as a community if we are to discover how to make next years budget – faithfully. Then again, we must also trust in God and the call which is placed before us if the budget cannot be met – faithfully.
To explain as simply as possible, we must do one of two things, or possibly both, next year.
1. Raise more funds for the ministry and Mission of our church
2. Lower the spending of the ministry and Mission of our church
Right now, we are facing this reality and the reality that many of you are already generously giving of your treasures, talents, and time. Giving to the point, that some of you are dipping into your savings or stretching yourselves paper thin each month to share with the community. This beloved is not what anyone wants to see. No one should have to feel a burden by supporting the church. It is the same as all of you who have worked tirelessly to put together Craft Fairs, Yard Sales, Community Dinners and burnt yourselves out in the attempt to bring our ministry to the greater Salem community. This truth is even seen in all of you who have worked hard to maintain and create connection throughout the last two years in online worship, actually giving up time to be in prayer or worship in order to serve those online and share their prayers and thoughts. To all of you who have been so faithful, I am blessed to be called as your pastor and teacher. And to all of you, no one can expect or request any more than the faithful engagement you have revealed, thank you.
To all the rest of you, we need you to step up and become part of our community once again. We need your voice to help us – to bring new insights – to build us as a community – together. We need you to be willing to change if that is what God is calling us to do because right now we are at our limit of doing things as they have always been done before. By “at the limit” I mean people are becoming burnt out, as explained above. Therefore, we have to work together both now and for the future of this church community and come up with new ways to share our time – our talents and yes even new ways to gather treasures in order to support the basic needs of this church ministry. We need your insights and participation, now more than ever because the reality is that if we cannot discover new ways or get your assistance to help raise funds in the coming year, we as a church will have to limit our staff.
Yes, this truth means next year we may have to cut down to half or 3/4 time pastor and / or pause the Christian Education director position and Music Director position. This reality is where we are and in all of this, I pray you will do the hardest thing in the world and trust God. Yes, help however and wherever you can, step up and reengage our community, come to the VLT meeting on December 9th to discuss the possibilities; and, even if all of this work does not help us balance the budget, we need you to trust in God that we are being directed into a new phase of God’s plan for our church.
I pray that all are well and safe. My heart cries out to all of you while sharing my faithful belief that God is carrying us wherever and however He wishes us to be in this magnificent ministry of Her Church.
With all my love and faith
your pastor and teacher, Brian