Monday, December 21, 2009

Copper Gutters

Years ago there were only two kinds of gutters: steel and copper. Because steel rusts, everyone used copper. Copper does not rust - it gets a nice green patina (remember the Statue of Liberty - she's made out of copper).

My church has about 1540 linear feet of copper gutters plus another 1000 linear feet of copper downspouts installed over a fifty-year span. A few months ago I got the idea of saving money in the long run by installing a gutter helmet so that I don't have to pay for gutter cleaning. So I priced a copper gutter helmet - total cost for a copper helmet: $80,000! By the way, you can't install an aluminum helmet on a copper gutter because copper and aluminum have some sort of chemical reaction to each other.

After picking me off the floor, the sales rep said that he could install "lifetime warranty" aluminum gutters, downspouts, and helmets for the entire church for $55,000. So, for $25,000 less, I can get brand new stuff plus a warranty. I don't have $55,000 to install new gutters. I do have about $5,ooo to $10,000 each year that I can apply to the new gutter system. That's what I'm doing - over the course of about 5-7 years, I'm going to install new aluminum gutters starting with the areas that are in most need of the gutters due to the amount of leaves they collect.

We're off to a good start, too. I've already done one critical area and as soon as possible into my new budget year I'll do another critical part. The first part that is already done cost $6,000 but I got $612 dollars back when I sold the copper gutters and downspouts to a scrap metal dealer. I've got one more area that is critical to do and then the rest will be done as I am able - they are not critical but necessary. Here are several benefits to replacing the gutters:
  • We save on the cost of gutter cleaning
  • We get a new product with a lifetime warranty
  • We get a better product because of the helmet
  • We get rid of a theft hazard - eventually someone would steal our copper gutters
  • We get money back from the sale of the copper
Lead On!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Change the Future

This morning I made a presentation to the church's strategy council. Actually, the church treasurer, church finance committee chair, and I made the presentation. I'm deeply grateful to them for making the time and having the passion for this presentation; I also appreciate the pastor inviting us to make the presentation.

What I said is that I view the three of us as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine - we're not shouting fire in a crowded theater but we are warning our colleagues and friends about the future of the church's finances.

My worst-case scenario is that in ten years we'll look back at 2006, 2007, and 2008 as the golden years. In ten years, at the present rate, we will have closed some of our ministries and laid off several staff. In ten years we'll begin survival mode.

Unless we increase the conversation about money things will get worse. We need to talk about tithing, stewardship and generosity on a regular basis from the pulpit, our website, and our written pieces. We also need to open up the ways that people who already want to give to us can give to us. We've put in barriers so that people can't give to us - shame!

Within two years we need to increase our revenues by $1 million (a 30% increase) in order just to sustain what we are currently doing. If we want to fund the dreams of the future, then we have to receive even more income. Let's talk about money - anytime you talk about something, two things will happen. Those who don't like what you're saying will leave and those who do like it will step up to the plate. If you don't talk about it, you're ignoring the gorilla in the room.

We have a very good church with very good leaders. But great dreams need great leadership. My request to my colleagues and fellow church members is that all of us need to step up our leadership. Yes, we will get shot at, but that is leadership - just ask the President of the US. We need to look beyond our past and gaze at our future. We need to set our sights on how we can lead (and fund) this church to greatness.

Lead On!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Sundays

From the list below (see "Christian Advent") there is a ready-made outline for the four Sundays of Advent.

On the first Sunday, the church can focus on the Christian concepts at the manger (peace, love, joy and hope) and what those mean to us in the form of Christian education and implementation of that knowledge.

On the second Sunday, the church can focus on the animals at the manger (donkey, cow, sheep, and camels) and their attitude of uncomplaining service and how we as Christians should imitate their humble service to God.

On the third Sunday, the church can focus on the people at the manger (shepherds, wise men, angels and Mary & Joseph) and how they worshipped a new-born baby and only Mary really, really knew the full story (Joseph had to trust Mary). How does the church today really, really worship God and is it worthy of Him?

On the fourth Sunday, the church can focus on the cities of the Christmas story (Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Babylon [where the Magi came from]) and how the church using evangelism and fellowship to reach out to those people who do not know the Christ story.

Each Sunday, one part of the mission of the church, one part of the Christmas story. There are so many aspects to this concept that ministers have a wealth of material. But please, keep it simple - God's revelation through Jesus is not complicated but it difficult. Don't try to make the Christ-story easy and complicated.

Lead On!