Many years ago, I was meeting with a small church which was struggling to add $20 per month to the pastor’s health insurance payment. Granted, there were only about 10-12 in attendance at the church. They lamented over and over how they didn’t have any money. Then someone let it slip that they had a “rainy-day” fund.
That peaked my curiosity. When I asked how much was in the rainy-day fund, someone told me, “About $85,000.” In today’s dollars that would be more than $130,000. I was quickly reminded by the more fiscally conservative members that it was always possible the roof could fall in. We guessed that to be about a $25,000 fix. Then I heard about the heating and air going bad—about a $12,000 fix at the time. After that, they practically had to conjure up ancient dragons coming to burn the church down. Anything to defend the stash of cash.
Lord knows I like to be prepared for possible rainstorms, and I think it is prudent to do so. Let me say it again—I think it is prudent to do so! However, I wondered whether they had ever considered that it was raining on the pastor. The church was in a county at the top of the state law enforcement’s meth lab list. A manufacturing plant had recently closed and there were hundreds of people needing assistance as they found other work. There was no quality childcare offered within ten miles of the community. It was raining everywhere—indeed, storming—but all they could see was that one day, possibly, maybe, some rain might fall on them. In fact, they were ready for it to fall multiple times.
If your church has a rainy-day fund, emergency fund, contingency fund, crisis fund, or any other name for a stash of cash, from time to time it is good to ask what a reasonable amount is to keep, and a reasonable amount to invest in your mission. The infrastructure (building, etc.) needs to be kept up, but the only reason to keep it up is to be of service to the mission. So, remember that the mission drives everything, from how much we pray to how much we keep in bank. If we get that right, God will help us with the rest.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana