This is the topic of my latest entry in the Patheos Preachers Portal. It’s appropriate for all church leaders, I believe, not just for “preachers.” Here’s the beginning of the article:
In the last month, I’ve spoken with several pastors and elders whose
churches face formidable financial challenges. In fact, it seems like
almost every church leader with whom I speak these days is wrestling, or
has recently wrestled, with the implications of our struggling economy.
Most churches have already eliminated programs and laid off staff. Many
are facing even more downsizing, and cuts in mission and benevolence.
be clear. It is neither fun nor easy to be a church leader in times
like these. Not that pastors and lay ministers respond to God’s call
because it offers pleasure or leisure. I realize this. But it can be
especially painful, stressful, and discouraging to lead a church when
valued ministries and colleagues have to be excised. It can cause you to
doubt yourself, your calling, and even God.
I lived through
something like this during my first years as Senior Pastor of Irvine
Presbyterian Church. The economy in the early 1990s was in a downswing,
especially in Orange County, California, where real estate development
had ground to a halt. The church had lost quite a few members in the
years before I arrived, which added to the financial pressures on our
budget. I remember waking often in the middle of the night, worrying
about how we could cut our budget and still keep our faithful staff. I
would pray, hoping to receive “the peace that passes understanding” and
return to sleep. But, mostly, my penchant for preoccupation defeated my
efforts at intercession.
If you’re going through something like
I’ve just described, either as an ordained pastor or as a lay leader in
your church, I thought I might share a few words of encouragement.
Beyond commiseration, I might be able to offer something to help you
find God’s presence and guidance in this time.
First . . . .
You can read the rest of the column here. And while you’re at it, check out some of the other articles by the “preachers.” Good stuff here!!