If you ever want to see a pastor feel uncomfortable, just go to a meeting where the church budget is the focus of the conversation. Pastors’ salaries, benefits (from health care to sabbatical) are available for all to see. From a personal experience, budget time is definitely not my favorite time of year. If you notice that from October to December each year I’m on edge, well now you know why, budget.
Here’s the thing, though, as much as I dislike the focus that the budgeting process puts on me and the rest of the staff, it’s necessary. As the church we are called, expected, to do our part to bring heaven to earth. As Mennonites we have a pretty good understanding of what it means to serve, to be in service to one another and the world For example, if there is a house that needs built (remember when Woody Miller built a house?), if family needs help making the transition from homelessness to housing (Pugh family), if a children are facing food insecurity (Backpack program), we are there. And this type of service is easy to preach. How many times have you heard one of us pastors talk about taking care of the marginalized? (I’m hoping you can answer by saying many times.)
One thing you probably haven’t heard us talk much about is giving financially. This is hard and awkward, because most of us would like keep our money matters to ourselves and most of us have other fiscal responsibilities. For my family its school loans, mortgage and our children’s schooling besides the basic necessities of life. The church can seem like one more place that is asking us to give.
So why would we give to PMC? To some it may seem that we are giving to a cold, entrenched institution, but I do not believe this to be true. The church is an agency of justice, that’s purpose, is to care for the “least of these”. Just like our bodies do physical service outside of these church walls, the offering that comes through the church does not stay in church. The bulk of what you and I give is then used to help the homeless, to feed the hungry, to educate our children in the ways of peace and justice, to challenges us to move and grow in our faith. Our faith is to be active. This active faith includes financial gifts which move from us into our city, our nation and our world.
I, on behalf of PMC, do hope you will consider giving regularly so that we can continue to Seek the Peace of the City.* If not regularly, then, when you can. By working together, we can bring heaven to earth. May it be so.
*You can find info on our website on how to give electronically.