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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Covenant's Alan Greenspan: Dean Lundgren


This morning the Stewardship Commission welcomed Dean Lundgren to brief us on the financial situation of the Covenant. Dean is a really, really smart guy. He has this macro-grasp of our little denomination's $20 million budget and the unique ways it performs and does not perform. Being secretary of te Commission, there are some comments that I'd love to share, but need to stay within the Commission. The one big trend is the declining % of dollars from churches to the denomination and an increase in local ministries and missions. When Hurricane Katrina's hit, we give money like crazy. When there is a crisis, we are quick to give generously. But money coming in to "Chicago" to support the general budget is not so exciting to give towards. Why? Dean commented about a woman who wanted her money to go all to missions and not to administration. Dean noted that the woman came from Minnesota and asked her if it ever snowed on Saturday night? She said "Yes" to which Dean asked: "Is that mission or administration?" Is there a connection within Covenant churches, among leaders and pastors that the administration is central to mission...or does it seem increasingly marginal to the ministry of the local church?
Another trend "pinch point" below is the disconnect between church Finance Comittees and the Stewardship Committees. Stewardship Committees, by and large, meet together in rooms without the facts and figures and work on "sales" ideas to present solutions to short-falls. Finance Committees meet and grapple with the hard facts, held tightly and not readily shared except that more revenue is needed. One suggestion the Stewardship Commission will be making is to more closely link the Fincance Committees with the Stewardship Committees, so both work off the same data/facts. Then I began to wonder; how come the Covenant Stewardship Commission has never met with the Finance Comittee/Executive Board or Trustees? Are we not, on a denominational level, perpetuating the problem on the local level? So we began to explore what a "financial summit" meeting would look like, empowering the Stewardship Commission with relevant facts?
Conclusion? The Covenant has some really competent and bright people working to do ministry and mission effectively and efficiently, but not always collaboratively. Maybe that's coming.

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