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The vote on the budget was fifty-nine in favor and fifty-eight opposed. I sat in shock. How could we possibly enter the new year with the membership so divided over a budget of several hundred thousand dollars?

Though I'd had my suspicions earlier, this was the first time I could clearly see the strength of the opposition. Would the fifty-eight support the budget? There seemed little hope. The issues were complex, but one kept resurfacing: "Too much money for young people and not enough for the rest of the church." The cry reminded me of "money for guns but none for butter," which has confounded many a president.

Our youth ministry was indeed extensive, and effective, but some felt it was too expensive. During the previous two years, our youth group had grown-attracting one thousand high schoolers to most events-and so had the youth budget. It had mushroomed from one salaried person and limited program funds to a total of more than fifty thousand dollars annually.

It was a time of unusual ...

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