. . . posts on faith and life
Shortly after a recent meeting of the Council of Eighteen the General Overseer scheduled an urgent meeting for high level church administrators and asked the head of each department to make any and all schedule adjustments necessary in order to attend the meeting. Since there were several days between this announcement and the actual meeting there was a small buzz among church leaders as they waited to find out what was so important. Some wondered if there might be some major news in regards to funding for certain departments. As it turned out the meeting was set to announce budget cutbacks. However, the cutbacks were fairly modest for the remainder of this year, with more significant cutbacks set for the subsequent fiscal year. The culprit? Simple. Tithes are down.
So, after the meeting Cleveland was not in a panic after all, which I was glad to hear. However, I have since begun to wonder if the response is too relaxed. While I am glad that our church administrators are not in a panic, I do not want them to lack a sense of urgency when facing critical situations. Is this a critical situation? I don’t know. I’m just saying.
The consensus of the meeting was that there was no need to panic. After all, the whole country is experiencing an economic slow down. We may even be headed for a true national recession. So, it should be expected that tithes would recede a bit. This may be true. But I can’t help but wonder if the problem lies deeper than that.
Over the last couple of years I have steadily encountered Church of God members and/or attendees who would find some occasion to mention to me that if you did not mark your tithes as tithes, but rather as offering, none of your money would “go to Cleveland.” Instead it would stay “right here” in the local church “where it is needed.” Is it possible that the current decline in tithes will trend much steeper and deeper than the current administrators tend to expect? If so, when (at what figures) could we expect the decline to level off? How can departments prepare for their inevitable downsizing? What does this mean for the sustainability of our current structure?