Some Thoughts on Assessments, from Revd Pete Pillinger.
Conference has decided that Circuits should no longer assess each church purely on their
membership. Doing so makes some churches reluctant to make new members.
So how else can your Circuit determine how to meet its financial responsibilities?
The Circuit Treasurer produces a budget. Churches are asked to offer how much they wish to pay towards the budget. If the offers do not meet the budget the churches
are asked to offer more. If after some time the churches cannot not meet the cost
of the budget it may be possible to see if some Circuit expenditure may be trimmed
to reduce costs.
The Circuit Treasurer produces a budget and each church is assessed according to a
formula agreed by the circuit.
The following factors might be taken into account:
membership – this may still be a factor but not the only one
attendance – some churches have attendance which varies significantly from
their membership so taking attendance into account can be helpful
income – ability to pay may be determined by looking at the income of a
church. There is a danger here that this taxes the generous and rewards the mean,
but it is true that different churches have different abilities to pay. It can also tax
those with church funded lay workers. Other questions are whether to count lettings
income, and if so what proportion (there are costs to letting out buildings)?
ministerial share – some ministers have less members/attenders in their
care than others. It is possible to weight a formula to ensure that those
churches who get less ministerial time pay less. Other ministers look after
more churches so this also might be taken account of.
An assessment formula might then have three factors:
People = e.g. (membership+attendance)/2
Ability to pay = e.g. giving per member/circuit average giving per member
Ministers time = e.g. (total circuit membership/members in section)/(number of
churches in section/total churches in circuit)
Whatever system is used flexibility is important. There are times when a church cannot fit into
a neat formula.
The range of payments per member in different churches across the circuit should not have too wide a variation. Is it likely that a church will have three times the ability pay than another in the same circuit? Should the range be limited to plus or minus 30% (or some other
percentage) of the average in membership terms?
Putting a mission fund as part of the Circuit budget, funded from assessments,
can allow reasoned subsidies of churches or projects for mission purposes and help to avoid
hidden and unreasoned subsidies.