Thursday, July 23, 2015

Week of July 19, 2015

On the other end of two "Holy Smokes! Family Nights" and an awesome VBS experience, our summer holds one more cool event for us before fall.  The last of our "Holy Smokes! Family Nights" happens on August 21.  It'll be a night of food and fun again, but this time we're adding a new segment: New Kirk's Got Talent!  If you've yet to sign up, and you're willing to share your talents with us, please do so ASAP by emailing me.

We've done ministry together now for six months.  We learned early on that these six months would be no walk in the park.  Where are we now?
Today we stand on a precipice.  We've learned what we can do when we work together.  Worship on Wednesdays, Holy Smokes! Family Nights, VBS, new small groups, and everything we've always done well, like Women's Community Bible Study, Men's Breakfast and Bible Study, the regular weekly Bible Study group, youth and children's meetings and events, etc. all help make up the fabric of our church family.  Let's not forget the various ways we regularly reach out beyond our churchyard: Females in Action, a new home school program, Boyscouts, etc.

In the midst of these victories, we know a financial red line stares us in the face.  We have upped our average weekly giving; given extra in time, donations, and money to cover most of the costs of our community and fellowship events; and, many families have stepped up to ensure our youth will have a Montreat experience this summer.  These funds rarely reflect in our budget because they are given in ways that bypass our financial structure.  Yet, still we stand staring at an $18,000 deficit in meeting our basic obligations of building costs, salaries, utilities, and other basic costs for the first six months of 2015.

Session and our Business Administration Team sat down with Rev. Dr. Eric Skidmore, who has vast experience and study in the area of Christian stewardship, to explore how New Kirk Presbyterian might best create a culture of stewardship.  It begins with a Stewardship Campaign.  September 20th will kick off this endeavor at NKP.  For four weeks, we'll explore the spiritual dimensions of stewardship in worship.  You'll hear a narrative budget of sorts as various committees share with the congregation their dreams for New Kirk Presbyterian and anticipated costs to meet those dreams.  On October 4th, the elders of the church will turn in their pledges (of course we won't publish the amount of the pledge) as a symbol of commitment from your leadership.  October 11th will be Dedication Sunday, the day when we turn in our pledges as a congregation.  There will be plenty of followup to make sure we don't leave others in the wake of our journey.

The process of moving through this plan of a Stewardship Campaign also, by its very nature, becomes a plan of membership inventory and re-commitment.  Our Book of Order makes clear that ACTIVE members are those involved in both the worship and the work of the church.  We will seek to find out who intends to be active members, not so much because it's any of our personal business but, rather, because it is an annual obligation of sessions to do so.  The Book of Order makes clear our personal business begins and ends with our freedom of conscience; but, if one's conscience moves them to commit to ACTIVE membership, then that one holds such commitment in trust to the prayer, discipleship, and leadership of other members.

I'll wrap up.  As your pastor, I'm all in.  My family and I will participate in this process.  Personally, I've resolved to give these next six months my full focus and energy in working with session and committees to serve this congregation with creativity and love.  The brainstorming has begun, and there are some exciting things coming in the fall.

Where do we go from here, then?  I've kind of answered this question: we focus our creativity and love; we commit to our membership at New Kirk Presbyterian.  We focus and commit for these next six months because we hope to pull out of our financial nosedive and once again see the horizon with its rising sun.  Why do we want to fly straight and level in good financial shape? because we believe in God's work at New Kirk Presbyterian.  We believe in this church family.  We believe in the crucial role that New Kirk Presbyterian plays in our spiritual lives.  We believe that our lives and the lives of the community are better with New Kirk Presbyterian in the neighborhood.

What cannot continue to happen is another six months running an $18,000 deficit in income vs. cost.  We're in the ballpark of about $37,000 total in our bank accounts, which means our current financial trajectory would leave us with less than $20,000 to launch 2016.  Therefore, New Kirk Presbyterian member, you're prayers in these matters, at their most pragmatic level, are two-fold: pray we meet our 2015 obligations; pray we commit to doing the same for 2016.

Success and failure has nothing to do with God, in my opinion.  Rather, God is about faith--maybe, even more so, God is about each member's resolve.

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