For many churches, these are financial times which would qualify as “tight.” Whether we are talking about money or attendance, we tend to feel as if we are trying to do more (or even the same as before) without the abundance of resources that we’d like to have or imagine that we once did have.
I don’t know how much of this is the present economy, or how much of this is just how we tend to see our lot in the world of churches and nonprofits. In the 7 years since I was ordained in 2006 I’ve yet to be in a church that saw itself as wealthy, or as having enough resources (money, people) to do it wanted to do.
We live at the tension point between what we want to do and the resources that we have (or think we need) to accomplish that. If the feeling of having “enough” is more like a horizon point than an achievable goal, though, should we just give up?
Of course not.
In fact, the tension point is a very productive place to be. Consider the work of an artist or a musician working without the benefit of a patron, or a recording contract. Certainly it becomes a struggle to produce art, and even to live. The struggle may not be itself a virtue, but an artist who isn’t forced to push himself may well see the relevance of his work diminished.
Speaking on Sound Opinions, Peter Hook of the band New Order said this: “Once a musician becomes, shall we say, comfortable, and his surroundings become comfortable, I think his music starts to sound comfortable as well.” Hook was referring to the fact that his band was entirely self-funded, without benefit of a record label to pick up their bills. This was by no means an easy way to make music. “But it did keep you grounded, and it also kept you out of debt, which is a wonderful place to be.”
The struggle, I think, is inevitable, even if it ebbs and flows. But perhaps these tension points between desires and resources can promote new ideas and new growth, or at the very least keep us from getting too comfortable.