73 percent decrease on line 55
Red flag! Red flag!! Like many of my clergy colleagues, I have spent a great deal of time preparing the year end statistical reports for 2013. For some it is a necessary evil. Others may find joy in submitting improved membership numbers and income. I am probably in the minority because I happen to like statistics. Statistics reveal many things about us and our local churches. We all understand that the numbers that we provide are a part of the formula for determining our yearly apportionments. They reveal the information which tells us which churches have grown and which ones have declined. One thing you may have overlooked is that statistics can tell us a story.
A new feature of the statistical reports this year is that not only do they put up a red flag when a statistic is out of the range of last years report, it also allows you to input a reason for the discrepancy. In other words, it allows you to tell a story (in a sentence or two). One of the red flags I encountered was line 55, “total amount paid in salary and benefits for all other church staff.” A 73% discrepancy from 2012 to 2013. Why such a difference? Unfortunately, the budget for 2013 forced us to eliminate the position of administrative assistant.
73% loss in ministry? 73% decrease in effectiveness? There is no question that the needs are real in relation to administrative work in the church. Where would we be without the administrative assistants diligence and thorough contributions? The end of this part time administrative work would certainly place more of a burden on the only other paid staff- the pastor. Or would it?
How the church dealt with the empty desk over the course of the last year reveals the complete story. Five different people have stepped in to take care of the work of the administrative office. That is five people who have contributed their time and talents to fill the void and hopefully look upon it for what it is- ministry (ministry of correspondence, communication, community outreach, helpful presence, and of course administration). Despite the fact that our churches statistical report will reveal a 73% decrease on line 55, the real story is that we have found a way for that ministry of administration to continue, through the dedication and service of five people.