For most churches, the recent economic downturn has not been a favorable thing. Almost every church I know of in my area has laid off many staff members and reduced budgets in order to remain operating within this new reality. At my church we’ve had to make significant lay offs on 3 separate occasions in the past 4 years. None of them were easy and each of them meant that things had to change.
Over the past 9 months my church has been through a lot of change. Not just economic change, but leadership change as well. And the reality is many people have left. My church today is much different than it was 9 months ago.
Most, if not all, people don’t deal with change well. Once we get comfortable with something the way it is, we never want it to change. We want our sports teams to always win, our children to always obey, our churches to sing our favorite songs, and our spouses to be as skinny as the wedding day. Once we get something different, once something changes, we have to adapt and rarely do we think of this as a good thing.
Many co-workers of mine have struggled (I have too!) with how to adapt with such significant changes. We were used to the way we had done things, now we had to envision doing it completely different.
Over the past few years as so much has changed within my church ministry context, God has taught me two lessons on dealing with diminishing resources and change.
I don’t have a magic ball that tells me what 6 months from now will look like. But I do present my needs and requests to God often. I know where the needs of my ministries are and I want God to know I’m hoping he provides in very specific ways. Just one year ago I prayed specific prayers about the type of people and roles I needed God to provide, and to my delight He provided more than I ever asked for.
As money and people available slowly go down, you cannot do things the way you did them in the past. Expectations have to change. As I said earlier, we view this as a bad thing, but I think that’s losing sight of what really matters. Our focus stays the same, but the implementation of how we flush out that focus changes. There is always more than one way to accomplish a goal.
For those of you in church ministry or even in the business world, what have you learned from working in an environment with diminishing resources?