No, this post isn't about growing pains as your church gets bigger and bigger or what to do with the budget surplus all that extra tithing is leaving you with (though if your problem is the latter, email me).
I've been thinking this week about the cost we pastors and our communities pay when people actually begin to do what we're asking them do to: "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."
So far this year, we've had a hard time making budget just about every month. And as a smaller church, that matters. As I looked at the numbers, I began to wonder what was happening. Were people giving less because of the financial crisis? Were we angering people and provoking a "hold back" response in giving?
But as I tried to see the big picture of where our community is, I realized we're actually just paying the price of success.
Recently we've sent some wonderful folks around the world - One family to Glasgow, Scotland, for church planting. One couple to Sudan to do medical and relief work for some of the poorest of the poor. Another couple to Bangladesh to rescue women from the sex trade and to help people begin businesses that will enable them to pull themselves out of poverty.
All these people have taken with them not just the hearts and prayers of our community. They've taken our financial support and the financial support of many members of our community.
In other words, giving isn't down. I have a feeling that, on the whole, we're actually giving more. It just doesn't show up on our books.
We started a Kiva group to enable Evergreen people to participate in micro loans to the poor around the world and so see the standard of living of some of the world's working poor increase. What can a $25 or $50 dollar loan do in Africa or South ...