May 17th, 2009

Avatar Me KAC

It’s not a setback; it’s an opportunity

So I had a very fruitful meeting with my Religious Education Committee (i.e. “George”). We need to come up with some budget proposals in the wake of the recent church upheaval. Our minister has left for greener pastures (I can’t blame him). And our student attendance is so low that most week-ends, only my own daughter is present. We are bleeding off members left and right. This is a retirement area, so families with children are hard enough to come by. When they come to a church that is struggling with internal issues, it can be like Kryptonite.

So, I need to justify my position as Director of Religious Education for next year. The only certain thing is that business as usual won’t cut it. With the Minister gone, I am the highest-paid staff member (which still isn’t saying much). Cutting R.E. is not really an option. If the church wants to attract and keep young members, an R.E. program is essential. But they can’t continue to put money into it at the current attendance rate.

So after a lot of brainstorming, the best that we could come up with was for me to voluntarily cut my hours in half, and used pre-generated curriculum. This is tough because I currently write about half my lesson plans (to tailor them for our kid and fellowship demographic) and I am extremely frugal. I rarely use even half the materials budget. Normal curriculum calls for more art projects, field trips, etc. Stuff that costs money. So I’d have to ask for more for supplies. Also, I would require the church to throw more money into program promotion. If I’m going to cut my time, I want the church to put some dollars into advertising.

Then Susan came up with a brilliant idea. Currently, my time is pretty much divided between administration and execution. My first proposal was basically cutting the administration top end (using pre-written curriculum, or re-running previously created custom curriculum). Susan said, “Half your volunteers walk away saying that they never knew half the stuff you were teaching. Why not set aside one Sunday out of the month to run an R.E. class in the Fellowship Hall, in place of a normal service?” Without a regular minister, the board must now fill each Sunday with a guest speaker, and the fees mount up, as well as the difficulty in finding quality speakers. I have a number of lesson plans that could be presented to all ages that would probably be well-received. The church would continue to pay me as normal, but now they have one less speaker to hire per month, and the R.E. program gains greater visibility within the Fellowship. Win-win.

I’m really excited (and nervous) about this. I hope the Board goes for it.

Originally published at Out Of My Mind. You can comment here or there.