Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Our Church's Present Financial Situation

Well, here we are in mid-October, with our Stewardship commitment time coming up (Sunday, November 6, 2005) for 2006 – when we indicate what we will give toward the support of the church’s ministry for the year to come. And we find ourselves about $767,000 in the red in terms of cash flow for this year, already. This year’s church ministry budget is set at $6,401,409 (this does not include our missions giving, which is almost $1,000,000, or gifts to the Twin Lakes expansion or to the $11,000,000 sanctuary expansion). So that means our current cash flow deficit is equal to about 12% of the total ministry budget. Let me try to put that into perspective.

For many, many years now (twenty or more?), First Presbyterian Church has run a negative cash flow for much of the calendar year, the negative cash flow becomes sizeable by say June-November, and then member-giving catches that cash flow up in December, so that, when all is said and done, the church budget is met and giving is greater than spending. Over the last ten years, as our church budget has gotten larger, so also has the cash flow deficit. All during this time, First Presbyterian has always finished the year in the black, and has usually met or exceeded the budget. But the increase in the size and duration of our negative cash flows has, understandably, made our officers nervous over time – especially this year. They plan as best as they can. They trust God to provide. And they know he always has in the past. But they do not ever want to presume upon your giving or God’s blessing, nor do they want to be unwise stewards of the Lord’s resources. This year this concern is particularly acute, for several reasons.

We basically lost two Sundays worth of giving in August/September because of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. We have, individually and corporately, devoted significant funds and energy to Katrina-relief that were not factored into our current budget. We are in the middle of a major building program, to which many of you are giving generously and even sacrificially. We are also in the home stretch of paying off the most recent Twin Lakes Conference Center capital expansion (to the tune of about $50,000 a month). All of these things compounded make a big chunk to bite off for any church – no matter its resources.

Not all the news is bad, by any stretch. The dollar amount you have collectively given to the church’s ministry budget is about the same this year as last year (despite all the extraordinary things we’ve gone through in the last month and a half), and that should greatly encourage us. Missions giving is also strong at this point of the year, and looks to be on track to meet what was committed to missions and evangelism for 2005-2006.

That having been said, our current cash flow deficit is about $250,000 deeper than we have ever experienced. If historical patterns continue, then it could reach a total of around $850,000 by November 1, 2005. If that happens, we will probably have exhausted our reserves, and draconian measures will have to be taken for the remainder of the year. Furthermore, even with generous December giving, it is hard to imagine us overcoming a deficit that deep.

So let me make the following appeal. 1. Please join the officers in praying that the Lord would once again provide, through his people, the support necessary to fund fully the ministry budget of the church. 2. Indeed, let’s pray that we will be able to once again to surpass the church budget again this year in our giving – knowing that that will require an extraordinary outpouring of gifts by the congregation to the church budget. 3. Despite the hurricane recovery, the world disasters (like in Pakistan, India and Sumatra), the economy and markets, and the many other hands held out to you, let us all determine to give sacrificially and even over and above previous commitments to the church in order to insure the full support of the church’s work and witness this year. 4. If you are behind in you giving to the general budget or Faith Promise, let me appeal to you to catch up now. 5. If you are a member but not giving to the support of the church’s ministry budget, begin giving now. Don’t think that your ten dollar gift, or fifty dollar gift, or hundred dollar gift doesn’t matter. Our budget is largely underwritten by smaller, faithful giving. 6. If you are already faithfully giving to FPC, please consider giving more. Exceed your pledge. Give over and above and ahead. 7. For those in our congregation with substantial financial resources at your disposal, now would be a good time to devote some of those resources, over and above your regular giving, to the church.

If we could go into the year 2006 with positive cash flow in our ministry budget, it would be a huge encouragement to the whole congregation. But it is going to take very generous, and even sacrificial giving to accomplish this in the final two and half months of the year.

But as I said, I am actually excited about this challenge. I think it is so good for our congregation. To hear why, you’ll have to be here on Sunday morning and I’ll tell you!

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

1 comment:

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