• Saturday, October 08th, 2016

Encore Blog

By Gretchen Switzer

How many of us have said to our families:  “If we just had ‘this much more money,’ then we could do ‘that’ and we would be happy.”  How many of us have said similar things at church?  “Oh, if we only had enough money to pay for a really good music director!  If we had the money to repair this or add on to that, we’d be  okay!”

I guess it’s part of the human condition to feel that we never have quite enough, but it leaves us, at home and in church, feeling that we are without resources, that our hands are tied when it comes to providing for the future.  If we live with this mindset long enough we end up living out of what we perceive as poverty, rather than living with a sense of abundance.  It makes us negative and feeling  powerless.   We slash the vastness of our dreams because all we can see are the obstacles before us, the closed doors and dwindling dollars.  Our vision becomes tiny.  Then, we are failing to live in the grand vision of our God.

I used to believe that  not having enough money in the bank was the cause of the demise of many congregations.  Over the years, serving a variety of congregations, many of whom had limited financial resources, I have learned that it is not the dollars and cents that dictate a church’s potential, but the size of the congregation’s dreams.  This is where we get stuck — when we allow our visions and dreams to be limited by our own negativity and lack of faith.

I spent most of my pastoral career serving small to mid-size churches who were worshiping in modest buildings with minimal professional “staff”, but recently, I have had the experience of visiting several churches who worship in huge facilities and have the funds to do just about anything they might want to do.  Their presence in the world, however, is still dictated by the size and power of their dreams for the future.  Their future will be dictated by their ability to look out beyond themselves.  A congregation whose focus is only turned inward, and cares primarily about perpetuating itself, will eventually become a lifeless community, no matter how much money they have.  While a community of faith with wonderful, broad overarching dreams for their ministry will probably find a way to make those dreams come true whether they have a huge bank account or not.
I think it’s time we stop letting money get in our way. Don’t you?  We need to start creating outrageously profound visions based in our faith in God through whom “all things are possible.”
We must stop focusing only on maintaining the “institution” and move toward tapping into the divine “inspiration” which will allow us to fulfill even our largest, most outrageously abundant, dreams for our churches.

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