Charlie Peacock sings, “Cheer up, Church, you’re worse off than you think.”
Many churches are feeling a money crunch, due to the economy. Take our congregation, for example.
There is no way our church could afford to provide a clergy sabbatical–apart from taking a creative approach to our life and our ministry together. In fact, there are lots of things our congregation would not have done–or be able to do–if we just relied on the offering plate to finance what we believe God wants us to do.
Fifteen years ago or so, we took steps to begin developing a church endowment fund.
Three years ago (in 2009), our congregation invested funds from our endowment to purchase a condominium so we could launch a Guest Pastor program, We needed additional staff, but we couldn’t afford them. So, we created a program where pastors could live in our condo in exchange for very light pastoral duties at our church.
How did this program come about? Like everyone else in our community, we were suffering from the housing market bust and world-wide recession. It dawned on us that the price of a brand-new condominium had suddenly deflated by about two-thirds its value of only a year earlier. Also, we noted that churches all across the land are encouraging their pastors to take a sabbatical. Our Guest Pastor program emerged. We provide pastors “rent free” housing so they can pursue a sabbatical. In exchange, we have been blessed by an influx of exceptional pastors who spend a month or two alongside us in ministry. For more information, visit Pastors2Go.com.
When it came to providing our own pastor with a sabbatical, we needed a different approach. We do not know of any other parishes that offer a Guest Pastor program like ours. Still, our pastor is taking a sabbatical this summer. Our pastor will spend a month of his sabbatical, living in England “rent free” by doing a home exchange with another pastor who wanted to come to the USA with his family for their summer holiday. Our pastor and his wife are going to swap houses with this English pastor and his family!
So, cheer up church. Be creative. Life is more exciting when you believe the future is in God’s hands. We belong to the God of abundance, not scarcity.