Friday, January 30, 2009

The Economic Impact on one church

This week I was reading about the difficult decisions which were made at Granger Community Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. Granger is considered one of the top 20 or so churches in the USA. They have multiple campuses for worship, average over 10,000 in worship and are making a tremendous impact in their community.

Below is a blog by Senior Pastor Mark Beeson about the need to lay off 8 people because of the economy. It is impacting churches as well as other industry. What I find interesting, even refreshing in the midst of despair and sadness is the commitment to fulfilling the mission of the church.

Below is the entire blog from Beeson.

Horrible Difficult Day

RMB Two November 2006 - photo by Corey Mann

Some guy on the TV looked me in the eye this morning and announced that more than 70,000 Americans were laid off yesterday. It was a terrible day. Numbered among the 70,000 who lost their jobs are several of my friends at GCC.

The downturn in the economy has had a serious impact on all of us.

Though most of Christ’s-followers are unpaid servants, some are paid. We ask them to let us buy their time, so they can focus like a laser on specific ministries that help the rest of the church. These Christians we pay, so they can better deploy their gifts to help us fulfill our mission. We all benefit from their dedication.

I’m responsible to our GCC staff. I believe we should take good care of the people who take care of us. The staff at GCC does an incredible job. They deserve good pay and what the Bible calls “a double honor.”

But, I’m also responsible for leading this church to fulfill her mission. So what I feel like doing I can't always do. (Isn’t that often the case? You want to have your way, but if you fully gratify yourself and indulge your desire, you’ll damage your soul and mortgage your future.) I struggle when my desires are thwarted. I hate limitations in time, or money, or energy, or wisdom, or courage. What I want is the freedom to do what I want. But in many cases I can’t because I’m limited by responsibility.

When limits collide with desire something has to give. Limits are either recognized, or desire is unleashed. Responsibility is accepted, or it isn’t.

Why do weak parents produce weak children? Often it's because they operate out of their feelings instead of their responsibilities, that’s why. They want to do what they want to do more than they want to do what is right.

Why do weak pastors produce weak churches? Often it's because they are more concerned about their own feelings than they are about failing Christ, that’s why. Their desire for easy satisfaction is greater than their willingness to act responsibly. Weak leaders lack resolve, give up too easily and quit too soon.

It was reported today that Consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. This season of political upheaval, and economic downturn, is no time for weak leadership.

I know my responsibility. I hate it, but I know it. Yesterday I did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I eliminated the jobs of several friends. I cried. I hated every minute of it. None of the people losing their jobs was failing. Some have been on staff with me for years. None lost the privilege of serving on staff because of poor performance. They were all doing good work. They are family.

Even so, I signed off on the most thoroughly processed decision my leadership team has ever made. My lead pastors are positive this was the right decision. We’ve done everything possible to avoid it. We know it was necessary. It was difficult but it was right.

I’ve heard it suggested (from others and from the voice of temptation in my head) that we should reduce outreach efforts, stop launching new ministries, reign in multi-site evangelism work and stifle innovation. Some of those tempters have proposed we stop helping other churches and focus on ourselves. These voices call for an inversion of orthodoxy; they recommend we turn our concerns top-side-down, making it our highest priority to keep every paid person on staff, even if it means we have to abandon our mission. Not a single person of GCC’s staff would ever want that!

We’ve already reduced everything possible, so I authorized the elimination of staff positions - cutting more than half-a-million dollars of staff wages and benefits out of our budget.

My advisors are in full agreement. GCC’s Administrative Council has recorded their complete support. Our Strategy Team has advised me. The Senior Management Team has absolute unity. As hard as it was, this was the right decision, and it positions us for strong ministry in the days ahead.

Please pray for our friends whose jobs were eliminated this week. They served us well in their paid positions and I know they’ll serve Christ well in their future ministries too – whether they’re paid or not. And pray for those who remain on staff; they’re charged with the task of leading GCC into the future.

If we are faithful to discipline our lives to do what is right, even when it’s difficult, God will bless our obedience.

Hebrews 12:11 - “At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”

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