Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dean Lundgren Report: lemons to lemonade

At the Stewardship Commission on Monday, Covenant Treasurer Dean Lundgren presented a fascinating report on the condition of the Covenant at this time. I asked Dean for permission to share portions of his report and he agreed with what is shared below:
1. Closing "Covenant Bookstore" has saved the ECC about $300,000.
2. The accumulated World Mission debt has now been totally eliminated.
3. The ECC kept expenses between 2000- 2007 to about 2.7% per/year while church giving to the ECC increased in the same period only 1.4%.
What's going on and why?
1. Local churches are experiencing increased staffing costs locally.
2. The cost of building facilities (and maintaining facilities) continues to rise.
3. There is a growing "localism" especially from the new people to the Covenant who are much more drawn to local missions than those perceived of as far away.
Dean's assessment is that things must turn around with increasing attention to communicating the vision of the shared ministry. Though Dean did not say it, one of the things the commission talked about was "branding." Covenant Estate Services is finding a new name because the term and concept of "Estate" carries with it negative baggage (large acreage, white picket fences, impending death and doom). So too does the term "denomination." That very term connotes division and separation, competition and bureaucracy, small fights over theological nuances, and administrative waste and inefficiency. That is not the case. The ECC consistently operates with some of the lowest administrative costs of any group in the USA. Covenant World Relief does its mission with a 4% operating cost. That is incredibly good news! But the image needs to be turned clearly to shared ministries and not "send it to Chicago because we know what's best." (Nobody said that quote, I'm just paraphrasing a sentiment). 
I'm grateful for guys like Dean who love the hard facts and complex charts, but also carry the hope of and exciting future ahead.


At 6:29 AM , Blogger kent said...

Interesting. One of the realities is that when you give a percentage of income as our does and our income goes down in a year from the previous year as ours did, then our giving also drops.

Dean is right, communication of the shared ministry vision is critical, but the question then become how to share this vision? This is the issue I am sure they have solved yet.

At 5:55 PM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...

i get fliers for local churchs. some are high gloss things with hip text encouraging me to chill with the gang at some coffee shop. Others come across as really desperate pleas for people to come - all the great things they offer and what not.

one thing I'm waiting for is a flier / website that basically tells me when/what a church is doing for volunteer work. I want to meet people in service, not over starbucks or a new bible study in a new place.

maybe this is the wrong post to vent about such things, but when i see posts here about that M4 HIV project I get both excited and annoyed I don't have a local church like that (same with my Quaker group - i tend to just attend volunteer activities and not so much the anti-war movie/protests)


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