There was a state convention staff guy who liked to tell churches that they could count on a certain percentage offering loss per inch of snow. The only reason churches I pastored ever cancelled services was because of snow and here in the south it only takes a little snow to create considerable chaos. Once in South Carolina we had two snow Sundays consecutively, no services for three weeks. State convention guys like to throw out figures because it helps them convince pastors and churches that they are doing useful things.
Here in Georgia the governor has declared an emergency and has asked churches to close; accordingly, our church will not meet today. Earlier in the week, I had been informed that we would meet but take steps to minimize risk (including disinfecting the offering baskets which reminded me of one of Adrian’s best stories about how germs couldn’t live on his salary). No church. No offering.
The church is live streaming on which I’ll pass. Let the millenials sit holding their phones and watch.
Here’s a crass point about cancelling church services: Churches will almost certainly lose revenue that will never be recovered. That’s a principle I’ve heard outlined by self-labeled experts for all my adult life. I’ve found it to be anecdotally true for the churches I’ve pastored. If you live by the budget, by fixed costs, by paid clergy staff and support personnel, you die by it as well. No need in spiritualizing it.
My decade old new church, as one might expect, receives a considerable portion of the offerings online, the germy checks and cash never touching any offering plate or basket. I think the online total is around 30-40 percent of total offerings. Like many churches, we have a revenue stream that should be immune to the cancellation of the regular church gathering. We will see.
What if the medical emergency stretches out to two, three, or more weeks? Several consecutive Sundays of lost offerings could get to be a serious problem and I suspect that some churches will be thrust into a financial crisis. Crises have happened before but we all know the drill here – faithful people who love their church will step up and give more. Thank God for all of those.
Of course, there are still some folks who say what was said to me a long time ago when many churches were half-time or quarter-time (they met only every other Sunday or once a month), “twice a month is plenty for country folks.”
You read about the guy who, when this crisis started unfolding, went around and bought up all the hand sanitizer he could, stockpiling it for sale online at outrageous prices. Amazon cut him off. He’s well stocked with sanitizer for personal use at the moment. I’ve been a true believer in using sanitizer for years. We always have a good bit on hand.
I’m sure other contributors here, some with more lofty spiritual thoughts, will have some profound theological insights into the current crisis. Me? Let’s talk dollars and cents, maybe just a little.
Hope you have a good Lord’s Day wherever you are for it.