November 17, 2019
As we mentioned last week, we want to share a church update with you this morning, and it has to do with our church finances. We are facing some challenges and we want to bring you, the congregation into it.
Here’s the situation we are in… on Friday November 1st we had a finance review and discovered that giving is down 16% since the summertime. Now we believe a few things have contributed to this. One being attendance is down a bit (about 13%) and the other being the instability our church is in during this season of transition.
When we discovered the shortfall we calculated our burn rate (which is how long can we operate the church without any changes) and found it to be about 3 months. This was cause for action. We spent time combing through the budget to determine everything that’s essential for ministry and how we could immediately cut spending. After all that, sadly, we found that we still need to reduce our staffing expense by more than 20% from our current level. And based on what we currently have in savings, we are going to have to make some difficult decisions relatively quickly in order to balance the budget.
Clearly, this has had a huge impact on our staff and will also have an effect on the church with our staff’s ability to serve you well. The staff is feeling strained and is having a hard time gaining unity, which is really difficult right now.
In the days since the financial review, we, the elders, have realized a couple of the ways we have contributed to the situation and feel like we have let down our staff and you church. We were naive and did not think about what may happen in the event Britt decided not to continue, and that giving may decrease, which meant a couple of things; we did not have a contingency plan in place to immediately reduce our expenses to live within our means. We also recognize that we didn’t provide the space to emotionally process the season of transition together as a church. Those were oversights on our part. We own that and we are deeply sorry. Also, we have not been communicating with you about the transition with clarity. We don’t want you to feel uncertain and we do want you to feel included. Would you please forgive us for these things? We truly desire to go through this transition together as it says in 1 Corinthians…
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 ESV
We are asking God to do what He is so faithful to do and use our mistakes for good in order to give Himself all the Glory. So we are going to do a few things from here, one familiar and a few new…
The familiar first, we are going to take some time in a few minutes to turn to one another and pray for our church that God would give us unity in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3-6), that He would use all things for His glory (Romans 8:28), and that He would provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19).
Secondly, in the coming weeks we will be inviting you to a church family meeting. We were hoping to have that meeting this week, but we have realized that we need more time to work on an interim plan for teaching and a long term succession plan. We wish we had things ready to share with you this week because we know some of you have heard about the meeting and were looking forward to it. We want to have clarity before sharing with you, and we will let you know as that time approaches. In the meantime, we have created an email address where you can send your questions or thoughts, email@example.com. We want to invite you into this process. We’ll collect those and speak to as many as possible at the upcoming church family meeting.
Thirdly, we have never navigated these particular waters before. So, we have formed a transition advisory team to advise the elders. There are 7 people on the team who deeply love and care for Reality Carpinteria, 3 from within the church, 3 from the Reality family of churches and 1 from another church. They are all high capacity leaders with many experiences and financial acumen from which to draw knowledge and wisdom. In the immediate, we’ve asked them to consider our financial challenge and provide a recommendation for a path forward considering what’s best for the church and staff. They have already met twice for that purpose. Once their goals are accomplished, we’ll consider how to reshape the advisory team to help us with the remainder of the transition.
Fourthly, we are humbly asking you today to consider how God would have you respond. Today we are all responding together in prayer. We are also asking, is it possible for you to increase your giving? If every person could give $5 or $10 more each week, we would cover our shortfall. Please hear this, only do so if you would be able to cheerfully. Our intention is not to compel you to give. As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. We believe the Lord will provide what we need and just what we need. We’ll make adjustments as He provides through His people and trust He is shaping His church according to His purposes. God has led us thus far and He will not let us down now.
One church within the Reality family who heard about our situation has pledged a generous gift to help. This is really encouraging and our hope is that we as a congregation can shoulder some of this too.
We truly love you guys and are so glad for all God is doing in our midst. We clearly see His Holy Spirit moving in so many ways during our Sunday gatherings in corporate worship & kids’ ministry, and throughout the week in prayer times, Home Groups, youth group, women’s bible studies, men’s bible studies, and counseling. God is saving people and growing mature disciples in our church. AND we believe that what God has done through Reality Carpinteria in sending missionaries all over the world and church planting is not finished. There is still Kingdom work to be done church.
Now, let’s take some time to pray to Jehovah Jireh, our provider. We have a few prayer points on the screen. Please turn to someone around you and let’s pray together.
The elders will be in the front after the gathering if you’d like to ask any questions today.
Although we’re in a difficult financial place, we want to assure you that Beau and Travis will continue to faithfully teach us each Sunday. Let’s open our Bibles as we continue in the book of John.