Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cutting Costs, Saving the Mission

Spend some time looking through the Conference directory, and you realize just how tough it would be to cut 20-30 FTEs in this Conference -- much less do so without sacrificing our church's mission. This is not a case of taking away the olives at the salad bar. No, these cuts are going to hurt.

Here are my suggestions on what to cut -- and what to save.

  • Conference subsidies to academies: Sorry -- I love our schools and what they do . . . but it's like Willie Sutton and the reason he robbed banks: "That's where the money is."
  • Health audits: given the cost of health care, it might be useful to sit down with individuals and say, "Here's what it cost to keep you healthy last year; what can you do viz. diet & exercise to cut costs and be a healthier person? (NB: you'd need to run this past legal first -- and it would be extremely important to make sure these audits [and the people doing them] are not connected in any way with decisions viz. hiring and firing.)
  • Larger districts for small, rural churches: Small churches are like cats -- they don't need leadership so much as affection. The only things that limit the size of a district with small churches, as a matter of fact, are the amount of time the pastor is willing to spend driving, and the need to fill pulpits on Sabbath morning -- and I think you could get around this latter objection with the use of sermons on video. (It works for satellite evangelism; why not for the Sabbath morning service?)
  • More church plants for immigrant communities: This is an area where we're seeing real growth -- and given the disproportionate impact that a downturn in the economy will have on these communities, they're going to be looking for the kind of help we can provide. (And while we definitely need to plant more Hispanic churches, don't forget the 150,000 conservative Protestant Slavs who live in the Portland Metro area!)
  • Save the Youth pastors: we have a four-year window to reach any particular Youth -- and while we may save a little money now by cutting back these positions, we will never again get the chance to reach those kids.
  • Focus on the I-5 Corridor: The churches that saw real growth these past years tended to be in the bedroom communities of Portland, or the retirement communities of southern Oregon . . . and while the downturn in California's housing market will slow migration to those areas, I don't see similar growth taking place anyplace else in the near future.
Okay, those are my ideas -- what do you think?

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