A word to leaders of churches about preparing for the future March 9, 2020 By Cam Miller 2 Comments This is a reprint of an article that appears in Episcopal Cafe (3/8/20). Plan Your Escape Route Now Share this:Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
Eric Bonetti says
I posted this reply on Episcopal Cafe, which got nuked. But I believe it’s fair and worthy of discussion.
Specifically, this article raises important points, including the risk of undercutting mission in the name of continuity, and establishing what really are priorities.
At one church where I used to be a member, the church spends more than $150,000 a year just to keep the building open. Meanwhile, it paid its rector a bonus of $100,000 a few years ago — the same year it drew $3,000 from savings for a staff farewell party. It under pays its diocesan commitment by more than 50 percent, while spending less than 3 percent of its budget for local outreach and services. And it just pumped more than $1.2 million, much of it borrowed, into replacing its HVAC systems, all while cutting health benefits to staff in the name of balancing the budget.
How is this even Christian? And looking around the nave, relatively few current members will be alive in 20 years. Why is this church not looking at its future and asking hard questions?
Cam Miller says
One answer to your question is that you, and those with your perspective, left. That is not a criticism of your decision but an observation that congregations in The Episcopal Church, do not have a very strong record of dealing with and growing from conflict. There are multiple reasons for this, but it hinders everything from growth to development to making important changes.
The church you describe could be any of a thousand churches, some I have helped lead too, except $100,000 bonus. That sounds weird to me and if true, and must have had something to do with more than a bonus or the diocese would surely have raised questions.But be that as it may, $150,000 is not a lot for heating, cooling, and maintaining these old buildings, which was precisely the point of my article.
I hear your frustration, maybe even outrage, and share it. But to be fair as well, we are going through a time in which every major institution is cracking and shaking from within and while I wish the church could be a leader and point to light at the end of the tunnel, we are apparently as inept as the others.
I hope you have found a new spiritual community that nurtures and challenges you now.