In our June and July newsletters, I shared in detail about the Elder’s decision to move ahead prayerfully and actively in hiring a full-time Associate Pastor at RCG. We are confident in the Lord’s timing and provision regarding this, and look forward to how He will continue to build His church among us as we seek Him.
Having hopefully given clarity about the nature of this new position, and why we believe it is so important at this time in the life of RCG, I’d like to now address a very pecific, tangible reality: this is going to cost a lot of money!
As most of you know, we have provided for this new position in our 2007-2008 fiscal year budget. That began July 1. Including salary, benefits, taxes, insurance, and other operating costs, the total package is in excess of $70,000 annually. Our General Fund budget was intentionally streamlined in many areas to make room for this significant addition. Even so, our current budget represents a 15.6% increase over last year’s budget. This means our monthly need has gone from $19,867 last fiscal year to $22,958 this fiscal year, or an increase in our monthly need of $3,091.
I bring this to your attention because the other Elders and myself are concerned that our current giving trends are not sufficient for what we believe our needs are as a church. During the first 3 months of this fiscal year (July, August, and September), our total General Fund giving was $62,291. This figure is $6,583 less than our monthly need will be with the new position. What this means practically is that right now current giving would not support the addition of another full-time pastoral position. (Please note that while our giving is falling short of our monthly budget need, all of our current
expenses are being met. We are committed to never spending more than we have. Again, our concern is the church’s ability to cover the cost of adding an Associate Pastor in the future.)
In light of these things, I want to ask a simple question: are you giving financially to the ministry of RCG as God would have you? Scripture clearly reveals the truth that our giving (which isn’t limited to finances, but certainly includes finances) is an aspect of our worship and gratitude to God. There are many biblical examples in both the Old and New Testaments which indicate that while God is the Giver and Supplier of all things, He works in and through the hearts of His people in giving (see Ex. 25:1,2; 35:5,21; Acts 2:44,45; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). Scripture also makes it clear that nothing so
indicates the true priorities of our hearts as much as where we spend the money that God has entrusted to us. Jesus said it this way in Mt. 6:19-21:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Likewise, God does not simply encourage us to give or suggest that it might be a good thing to do, He commands us to give! Hear what He says through Paul in 1 Tim. 6:17-19:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (Note that being “rich” in this context is having anything more than the basic necessities of life.)
These truths indicate that the real question for all of us is not primarily “am I giving financially to the ministry of RCG as God would have me to?”, but rather, “where is the treasure of my heart – in the things of God in heaven, or in the things of men on this earth? Am I being obedient to the Lord’s commands in the area of financial giving?”
Our conviction that we are in desperate need of a full-time Associate Pastor centers upon our hearts’ desire to see God exalted as His grace and truth in Jesus Christ abounds in and overflows to more and more people. As the size of our church body has increased and continues to increase, there are simply more shepherding, equipping, discipling, training, caring, and ministering needs among us than one full-time pastor, two part-time support staff, and numerous volunteers can adequately respond to. We need more pastoral leadership.
In closing, let me reiterate that we are confident that God will supply exactly what we need, when we need it. He knows best the “what,” and “who” and “when” in all of this. At the same time, we know that He works through His people, so we want to encourage you to prayerfully consider what God would have for you in these matters.
I know I speak for all the Elders in saying it is such a joy and privilege to serve among you – all for your blessing and His glory!
In His grip,