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.