The financial report of Randy Roberts to the recent NAD meetings is both heartening and astounding. However, I believe that it belies what lies ahead of us in the coming future. We may not be facing a red light now. But, I suggest that we are facing a yellow light of caution which portends a more dismal financial future that Roberts has suggested.
• Independent, self-supporting institutions: More and more SDA members contribute to those organizations because our members either believe that either they are doing mission that the organized Church is not doing, or that they are doing it at a lower cost. These institutions are supported by members who generally divert both tithe and offerings to their support. Yes, I am aware that these institutions do not knowingly accept tithe. So, our members do not label their gifts as such. I predict that if the organized Church cannot get on top of this, the diversion of funds will increase over time.
• Congregations that have a local church school are charged a fee based upon the Conference employed teachers along with some Conference overhead for management purposes. Larger schools, with businesspeople on the governing Board are able to offer teachers who would like to be employed by the local congregation a salary package that matches denominational income and medical and retirement benefits for less cost to the congregation that it would incur if the teacher was employed by the conference.
• Congregational pastors: While I do not have current exact figures, I have seen the time when a conference needed from $100,000 to $150,000 in tithe income to hire a congregational pastor. Probably just about every “Conference in the NAD has congregations that employ local pastors. They can obtain a qualified, experienced pastor for a sum of $75,000 to $100, 000 per year. If they employ an inexperienced person, they can cut their cost to $30,000 to $50,000 depending upon job requirements. In every congregation of which I am aware, all such congregations had people who supported the local hire by decreasing the amount of tithe paid to the Conference. I predict that this will increase over time.
If the organized church does not get on top of this now, I believe that the financial issues that we face will grow rapidly over time