This week’s pastor’s perspective comes to you from Hourglass Collision, where I’m getting some work done on my truck to replace a latch in two of the doors. Hopefully, after this work, I’ll be able to open the door behind the driver’s door, and reliably be able to open the driver door! The guys here at the shop have a collection of model cars displayed and that reminds me of a fun opportunity I’ll be taking the kids to this weekend for the second time—the Leake Car Auction at the fairgrounds. I’d love to say I’ll be bidding on a 1978 Firebird with T-Top, just like the Bandit’s, but instead, I’ll just gawk with the kids at all the people who actually are bidding. (That’s a little bit cheaper entertainment.) As a teen-aged subscriber to Motor Trend Magazine whose dad always enjoyed pointing out the year, make, and model of cars we’d come across, the appreciation for classic cars is thoroughly engrained in me. So, I was genuinely excited when 3 years ago this week I began my appointment at the ecclesiological version of a classic car.
Like the tailfins of a 59 Cadillac Eldorado, our church has many features that catch people’s eye as they drive by on 5th St., namely the beautiful courtyard. I enjoyed the sight the other day of someone driving by, then reversing to spend a minute just sitting there in the middle of the road looking at the view of our church from the courtyard. Like those tailfins, our courtyard view is gawk-worthy.
There are challenges to owning a classic car too, though. Maintenance of your vehicle becomes something of an obsession. Likewise, the maintenance of a large facility such as ours (would you say we might have the equivalent of the big white ‘74 Oldsmobile 98 our neighbor friends in Los Angeles used to take us out on the town in?) takes a lot of attention and resources. We spent 40% of our expenditures in 2013 on operating expenses (33%) and capital expenses (7%). Compare that to a fairly new but established and growing church (in fact, the third fastest growing and largest growing church in the top 50 fastest growing churches in the conference, Acts 2 UMC in Edmond), which spent only 12.5% of expenditures on operating expenses and 8% on capital. This is similar to the differences between owning a fairly new car and a classic car—and while some may criticize the church who spends such a hefty percentage on operating expenses, I just look at it like a classic car enthusiast considers the amount of money he spends on upkeep of his car—it is what it is—does a beige 2013 Honda Accord turn any heads? It is part of our unique set of gifts to be a place of solace and inspiration in the midst of a college campus. Though Acts 2 is doing a tremendous job appealing to the influx of a bunch of new people in a growing community, we have a different context and a different set of strengths. (All of that statistical information can be found in the recently updated for 2013 records website put together by the Oklahoma Methodist Foundation that I used in the 2013 Charge Conference: http://okumf.net/OKUMC/index.php
One of the things that classic car owners (or just owners of old cars) like to joke about is all the quirks and strange things that give a car “character.” The question is, when does a quirk become obstructive to function and use? My kid’s babysitter just came and picked up Julianna from the car shop, and when I told her why I was here, she said, “I feel you! (She drives an old SUV too) I have to jiggle the handle around 10 times before I can open the door. I’ve had the latch replaced several times, but it only holds for a while before it’s back to its old ways.” I don’t need to spell out this metaphor too much, do I?
In any case—I am so pleased that the Bishop has appointed me to serve University UMC for a fourth year. I have bid on YOU, church.