I grew up as a Christian and heard many many talks about money and the need to give generously. However I was in my late teens before I heard a talk where the Pastor actually explained in detail where the money was going and what it was for. One aspect of Stewardship is giving, another aspect is being faithful to money being used well in the biblical sense.
In the Anglican Church this responsibility is that of the Churchwardens (you can check out our wardens here), with the support of a Treasurer (Noel Thurlow) and in our case, a Bookkeeper. However as a community it is something we all should be aware of and it would be remiss of me as the spiritual leader to not give you a snap shot about how our finances work from time to time.
Of course, stewardship and giving is also a discipleship issue. In the bible we find the prevalence of these words:
Believed = 272 times
Pray = 371 times
Love = 714 times
Give = 2162 times
The notion of giving and discipleship is one of the most prominent themes in the bible and yet so often we (Pastors) fear speaking about it because it can be such a sensitive issue. The flip-side is that some churches give a "giving talk" every Sunday and we choose not to do that at St Cath's because we don't wish to suggest that this is the only discipleship issue that we need to address. Over the course of a year or a season, we want to address as many discipleship issues as possible.
Sometimes people who have come into an Anglican Church who have been part of other (perhaps independent ) churches believe that the Anglican Church of Australia or the Melbourne Anglican Diocese are kind of like a big 'mum or dad' ready to bail us out or provide seed-funding for Churches that are struggling. This is simply not the case. The video below comically illustrates this tension in the Church of England in the UK:
The Church of England in the UK and the Roman Catholic Church in Australia both have a system where contributions from church giving are made to the diocese (HQ) and then clergy / pastors are paid from the centre. However in the Anglican Church of Australia local congregations have to support themselves. While there are sometimes grants or supports available from the centre, it is the responsibility of the local Church (Churchwardens) to determine how funds will be spent, where they will come from and to ensure that there are sufficient funds for the pastoral staff to be paid. Additionally we pay a contribution (assessment) to the centre so that they can continue to provide services to the church, i.e. governance, insurance, payroll, the pastoral support of bishops, etc.
If the local congregation does not have the resources, the Churchwardens (in conversation with the local Bishop) sometimes need to consider reducing the hours of the pastoral staff and in more drastic circumstances consider discontinuing operation as a Church. In Melbourne a minimum budget for Church viability is considered to be $120k annually.
While St Cath's have found themselves in this position in the past, this is far from the case today. Finances are tracking very well. The brief presentation below gives an outline of our income streams and our expenses as budgeted at the beginning of the financial year (1 October 2017). In our next post I will share more extensively about our current position as well as what the bible says about stewardship and giving. Click here if the presentation does not appear below.