Friday, January 2, 2009

People put their money where their value is…

One simple conclusion that I have drawn over the past months… “People put their money where their value is.” And further their value is not always where you expect it to be.

Do you remember when an encyclopedia was of high value? Do you remember when you would have to pay well over $1500 – even $2000 for an encyclopedia? Have you noticed lately that you can by encyclopedias only at garage sales? Do you even remember an encyclopedia?

Pointing to the “encyclopedia” comes from a story published yesterday about my favorite Web Site named “Wikipedia” – which is an on-line super encyclopedia – that is done mainly by volunteers from all over the world.

In Jimmy Wales’( in the photo - the owner and founder of Wikipedia) wrote a recent letter to the public. In it he states the following…
"At its core, Wikipedia is driven by a global community of more than 150,000 volunteers - all dedicated to sharing knowledge freely. Over almost eight years, these volunteers have contributed more than 11 million articles in 265 languages. More than 275 million people come to our website every month to access information, free of charge and free of advertising."

Instead of selling copies of Wikipedia as the encyclopedia companies would, Jimmy has asked for donations. The amount that he asked for is not much really – only $6 Million US for one year.

If you check out the link below from TG Daily – you will see that the Wikipedia Fans gave over $6 Million in less than 5 days. The report reads…
Wikipedia launched a "please save our website" fund drive campaign on or about Christmas Eve. At that point, they had raised $3.8 million dollars of their $6 million goal. In just five days, as of January 1, 2009, they had surpassed the $6 million goal by raising an additional $2.3 million. They now have on hand $6,150,647 (as of 12:15am CST). The people's message: We love Wikipedia!

Can you imagine – in 5 days they went over the $6 Million goal and added another $2.3 Million to their coffers! Holy Mackerel! Can you believe it?!?

The hard fought local United Way Campaigns must be drooling over this report!

I opened this post with the statement - “People put their money where their value is.” And further their value is not always where you expect it to be.

This is something that I am stunned by at this time. In a world that is confused with an economic down turn – where belt buckles are tightened every where because of fear with/for the economy… people pop out $6 Million (actually closer to $9 Million) in 5 days for something they see as valuable.

Now I switch attention radically to the “old pastoral role” – where as a pastor/minister of a church I was the key figure in helping to raise the weekly offering for the church. As the leader I felt the responsibility to encourage people to give their hard earned money in an offering plate each week. This was not just a felt need – but rather an absolutely important need. We had to have the money come in each week in order to stay afloat. Without it we were dead!

Now for some that are closer to the “Peterborough Church World” – you will know that our financial giving at Northview Pentecostal Church was and is an issue. The offerings have shrunk with people leaving, dieing and sometimes just not having it to give. It was a final crunch coming on one year ago now – snow fell, plows plowed, cold weather came, staff continued to need a salary – and the money was very tight. In May – June we made that final decision to let all the staff go – cutting the expenses radically.

That was Northview PC. But in our fine city the “other big church” – like ours – is also facing same struggles finically. They have regularly dipped into their Overdraft amount by about $200,000 each month (reported by a fairly reliable source). Northview had been into their line of credit often reaching close to the $50,000 amount each month.

Not to be outdone, the more traditional and solid old soldiers of the Cross, the “denominational churches” – like United, Presbyterian, and even Catholic churches are hurting big time in our city. Offerings and stored finances have been shrinking as well. Some are on the verge of closing or have closed already.

The “church pinch” is on. The church’s present leadership is going to have a huge problem on hand as they face “tomorrow” with finances that are shrinking.

As an outsider now from the official leadership – I write to let people know - “People put their money where their value is.” And further their value is not always where you expect it to be.

As a Paid Pastor behind the Pulpit each Sunday – I never had the freedom to say some of these words. If I would have there were folk that would immediately “advise me” that - this or that should not be said! It was a tight rope walk each week. (Being free today – six months later – I have to be careful still what I say. At least that is the feeling.)

Now with a pause here and a deep breath, dare I say it… old encyclopedias are a lot churches. They were really great in their time but maybe that is not the genuine feeling today by the ordinary people walking around on Sunday in the local Mall or Flee Market. Church is not the main thing in their minds.

Did you catch my words earlier – again - “People put their money where their value is.” And further their value is not always where you expect it to be.

Wikipedia has great value as people access it daily. The Internet for that matter is a staple now with almost every family in North America having access to this medium. It is like Meat and Potatoes. It is something that we all go to – often. If not every day – it is at least a few times a week.

Now place Wikipedia beside the word CHURCH and do you see the contrast.

The Church was once the center of the local community social network. Outside the general store, the interaction before, during and after a local church service was the key community place to be. It was so important that people had paid for their own pew – a place to sit in church… much like we do for Internet Access today – or a Web Page.

In 2009 – I may be able to get a little more bold with what I think… once this lingering “ministerial mode” evaporates. The thought has been… “Wouldn’t it be something if someone told the real truth… exposed what was really taking place… and then we faced the huge issues at hand…”

“People put their money where their value is.” And further their value is not always where you expect it to be. And maybe that value is no longer in a church. I gulp as I type these words. Where has this world gone to…?

The answer is The Mall, The Flee Market, the Art Shows, Hiking, Snowmobiling, Skiing, Sledding, Walking, Running…. You name it… WOW!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dad
I must throw in Clifford's idea here. Knox United Church is 'unofficially' for sale. Clifford suggested that we buy it and make it an indoor Paintball Park. We'd have to take out most of the religious icons and pews.
I'm thinking it just might work!