My neighborhood at home is off of a state route that is under major construction. Just south of our street the road is closed. Really, really closed. So closed that the concrete is gone and the dirt is showing. They don’t get more closed than that.
This fact is announced in several signs before you get to our street. The first sign is some two miles north and nearly blocks the road. Just past the fire station there is another barricade blocking the road. If you ignore all of these signs a series of barrels routes you right into our neighborhood.
Last Saturday I was doing yard work and watched dozens of cars turn around in my driveway. Apparently they thought the State of Ohio was kidding when it erected all of those big, bright, orange signs and figured the road wasn’t really closed.
As a result, what could have been a fairly simple course correction two miles north results in a much longer detour and a far higher level of frustration.
As you prepared your reports for Church Conference, what big, bright orange signs did you see? What are your people trends? How are you doing in terms of members, professions of faith and attendance? Reverend Orlando Chaffee, Superintendent of the North Coast District, is fond of interpreting these numbers as where you’ve been, where you’re going and where you are, respectively.
What are your financial trends? Graph your total pledge dollars, the total offerings received, shortfalls made up with endowment or other reserves. When you account for inflation is your budget growing or stagnant? How much are you spending on caring for your own flock as opposed to missions and outreach? Are you paying your apportionments? If not, are you paying more than you have been or less?
Then move away from the numbers. Are your committees healthy and a tool for growth or a hinderance? Does your kitchen committee support using the facility for Kingdom Work or get it the way of it? How is the physical appearance of your building? Are visitors greeted with a dingy appearance, worn out carpeting or signs taped to the door saying that Children’s Sunday School is cancelled this week? Do you have passionate worship or does it suck the energy out of your congregation like a Browns’ fumble during overtime? Does the calendar on your church website seem to think it is still June of 2007?
With all due respect to Reverend Chaffee I can tell you that our church conference was little more than a rubber stamp of the budget and the pastor’s salary. Dig down into these reports with your church leaders and do the same when you compile the statistical reports you submit to the Treasurer’s Office in January.
Don’t ignore the looming orange barricades, dig deep now, find them and make a simple course correction before your church ends up on a side street, watching some guy rake his leaves.