St Barnabas is a relatively large church with quite a few paid staff and a significant number of supported mission partners. All this costs money and we have a large budget of £870,000 per year. One of the big challenges facing us at the moment is that we are seriously under-recovering on our regular giving. We do not know for sure why this is happening, but it could be that some of our giving that previously we would have given to the regular running costs of the church, has been diverted to Go and Grow. Right at the beginning of our Go and Grow fundraising campaign I made the point that we must avoid under-funding the mission and ministry of St Barnabas, because we are understandably distracted by this huge Go and Grow project. This would be a terrible mistake.
I once visited a fabulous new church complex that had been built at vast cost. The building had every conceivable luxury, lovely chapel, superb senior pastor's office, great café area, and awe-inspiring main auditorium with a thousand twinkly lights in the lofty ceiling like a crystal clear night sky. But while they were building this marvellous centre the church had a major problem and a large proportion of the membership left. Once the building was completed, the church was so depleted that they ended up meeting in the café area. The mission and ministry of the church was utterly decimated, because they focussed on the building rather than the church's life. What a tragedy.
It would be a disaster if we made a similar mistake. The move to Solar House is incredibly important, but the project's role is to facilitate the future ministry of the church. The situation is now sufficiently bad for us to have to contemplate difficult decisions about cutting down on ministries, reducing the level of support we can offer to mission partners and even not employing much-needed staff. It would be lunacy to pull back on investing in the ongoing work of the church - the very thing that we are wanting to grow.
This feels like a crisis and I don't completely know how we are going to do this, but I do know that it is both essential and urgent. David is going to preach this coming Sunday morning on the subject of giving, which I know will stir many people's hearts. I personally am going to look at my regular standing order giving and any other bits I may be able to contribute. Please Lord, provide.