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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Free

I was pretty sure this “good word” must have been addressed at some point in our blogging history. Sure enough, but the interpretation was “free as the breeze” not “at no cost.” I’m in the midst of a conversation about the other definition of the word. We’ve been talking about our church culture that likes to have as many things as possible free to all.

We love potlucks, where we can invite everyone at church because we know there’ll be plenty of food to share. “Y’all come,” we say. “It’s free!” We love this aspect of our welcoming and inviting ministry. Come one, come all, it won’t cost you a cent. There may be a basket somewhere if you’re inclined to leave a toonie, but really, don’t worry about it; it’s free!

We send each other to the World Church’s website to download resources. There are tons of them there. You can find whatever you need to plan your worship, lead your adult class discussion, find the policy statement you need, read the most recent blog from the President or the Herald article you want to copy for your friend. And it’s all “free”! What a wonderful world.

Of course we sometimes bump up against that undeniable fact that, while it may be “free” it isn’t without “cost.” We find ourselves dealing with budgets and tax receipts and the high cost of living. How do we balance our desire to be as welcoming as we can be and as gentle with what we charge for products and services?

I think we all understand the hard facts that there is seldom anything that is totally free. We know that someone, somewhere is paying the price. Maybe it’s rolled up in our tax bill, or our Mission assessment or our tithing dollar. So be it. But those dollars have been hit hard by the times, the declining population and the high cost of living. (Isn’t that where we came in?)

Part of the answer does need to be a focus on our vision/mission. What is our priority? What matters most? And how shall we pay for it? Once we’ve decided that something is truly worthwhile it becomes a lot easier to find the funding. Nobody wants others to suffer hardship, and having the whole story will inevitably bring good people’s true generosity to the fore.

One thing for sure, there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all answer. Some things, for some people, need to be “free.” Some users can pay, others will need help. Maybe the taxes, the tithing, the assessment can help subsidize the cost. Having this kind of conversation can really help us decide what our priorities are, what things are truly worth to us. Don’t leave it to the financial folk to make these decisions alone. It’s not strictly a finance question.

Best of luck to all of you out there who may be struggling with the budget. While it still may be true that “the best things in life are free” it is also true that most likely, someone, somehow is bearing the cost. Together we can work it out.

Posted by Marion

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