Posts Tagged ‘Money’

Countdown to Easter

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

If I’m playing by the “church planting rulebook” then I’ve got about 8 months to make things happen. 

The rulebook, which nobody likes to invoke or even think about has a lot to do with numbers and money.  On our current trajectory we will need to double our offerings (whether by doubling our attendance or our giving) by January 1, or… well, let’s say the trajectory will need to change.  Outside funding covers roughly 50% of our budget right now, and we’ve bumped up against the very common 75 person wall.

New churches tend to hit a plateau at about 75.  It’s where people start to feel really comfortable.  They like the people they’re worshiping with, they enjoy the size, knowing everyone, feeling like afamily.  It’s really nice, and it can lull you into a comfort coma.  The comfort coma ends up ending a lot of church start-ups because people get stuck and can’t move to self-supporting.

At the same time, the “church planting rulebook” kind of makes me nervous, if I’m honest, because it doesn’t feel very “organic” or “authentic” or whatever catchy word you want to use that actually does carry a meaning that jives with me.

Enough about that.  Let’s just say this: Easter is one of the prime opportunities before us to get to meet new people.  Unfortunately, the best case scenario doesn’t help us much.  It’s this: Best Case Scenario: the church’s invitations to their friends, the mailers that go out bring in 70 more people.  20 of them stay and begin to grow in faith from wherever they are on the continuum.  This is really what I hope for ( and I’m remembering that God can do immeasurably more than I hope for).

These new folks have no reason to give to help support Embody.  Many of them won’t know Jesus yet, and, honestly, how could I ask them to or expect them to give in the offering plate?

Ok, here’s where this posting turns into a short rant:

The “church planting rulebook” stinks.  We encourage churches to start, but give them only 3 years to get off the ground and onto their own feet.  But the reality is something very different.  We’re not trying to steal sheep from other churches.  We’re trying to bring good news to people who haven’t been walking with Christ.  And any pastor will tell you that no matter what church they’re leading they see this: sacrificial giving…no, even tithing doesn’t come until someone is far along the path of discipleship.

Something’s not quite right about the whole system.  OK.  Enough about that.  I look forward to reading this posting some day and saying, “O me of little faith”.  God’s going to show up.  I just have to do my part, right?  Right.



January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

We had 95 people in worship yesterday!  I know.  Where did that come from? Right?  I’ll tell you:

Makenna Sue Slagh, one of our youngest worshipers, brought about 25 people.  She was baptized and brought the family.  It doesn’t hurt that her dad has 6 brothers.  We knew it was going to be a full day, so we pulled the chairs a little tighter and set up some wooden chairs in the back as well.  It was just great!

95 is terrific, but normally we’re not that large.  It was full, and a little crowded.  Felt wonderful and helped me see the future a bit.  It leads us well into this next week when we meet after worship for a church meeting.  We’ll be talking about our space issues and what’s next for Embody.  Here are some of the things that go into our conversation:

1. How we talk about it: this is our first big meeting and our first big decision. So HOW we make our decision is almost as important as what our decision is.  We don’t want our church to be a congregational church – meaning that all decisions are made by everybody (there’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not to be our way).  Also, we don’t want to be episcopal – meaning that one person makes the decision and everyone else just goes along with it (also good, but not to be our way).  We’ll be presbyterian in our “polity” – meaning that there is a leadership group that makes the decision after hearing the heart and mind of the congregation. 

2. Prayer.  I’m going to ask everybody to pray in preparation for the meeting and we’ll pray during and after.  God will point us in the direction.

3. We are preparing Embody to think about the issue by giving them a survey. It allows people to answer some questions anonymously and to think through their answers on their own.  We’ll also have the results to tabulate.  Hopefully, many people will participate.

4. We aren’t just “willy nilly” having a meeting.  This really is an important decision and we really DO NEED the hearts and minds of the church to be shared. 

5. We’ll be sharing important information about our finances that give rise to our need to have the conversation.

6. Finances aside, we need to keep our church growing.  We’ve reached a point where many church plants plateau and end up dying.  They get comfortable with the people they have and close off and end up closing the doors.  We want to grow (not for numbers’ sake) because we want more and more people to know the goodness of God and the difference God makes in lives.

OK.  So, now that you know that…please pray for us.  I’ll let you know how the meeting goes.


November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Tomorrow I’ll be preaching on finding ourselves living out a “kingdom lifestyle” where everything about our lives are under the rule of the King.  We’ll talk primarily of generosity and giving…tithing.

As our church begins to enter the toddler stage of development we find the need to be able to start moving toward self-sustaining.  We have to talk about where we are financially and I need to give an open, honest account of our standing and where we’re heading.  Our funding is, as it should be, beginning to dry up from outside sources.  It is a slowing down of sorts. 

All church plants should hope for it…well, hope for it while the tithes and offerings of the church go up to meet the lessening outside sources.  It’s natural.  It’s expected.  It’s exactly what you want.  It’s terrifying.

So, I’m trying something I’ve never done before: commitment cards.  We’ll be asking people to prayerfully consider their giving for the year 2011 and make a commitment – if they’re in a place to do so (of course, not everyone is, and that’s ok).

It’s a strange thing to do when there are Christians and non-Christians in the room.  You appeal to the Christians out of their desire to grow in faith and following Christ.  You then appeal to the non-Christians out of what?  Some commodity they’re receiving?  A service?  This I haven’t quite figured out.  We’ll just preach it and leave it up to the Spirit.

October Headache and Medicine

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s October.  That means two things: 1. Creating a Budge. 2. Trees Change Color.

If you know me, you know that my math skills stop at about a 3rd grade level.  I rely upon my bride to keep us in the red…or black.  I don’t really understand those two colors in regards to budget – can’t remember which is which.  So, October is always the time when churches start putting together their next year’s budget (unless they have a different fiscal year).  Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Outside resources start to wean new churches as they get older.  The understanding is that you’ll be growing and raising up stewards.  This gives you a couple of years before you have to be on your own (as if God’s not really pulling all the strings).  This is the case with us.

I feel like we’ve been doing really well as a new church.  If we have to talk about numbers…let’s do it.  We have about 70-80 people in church on a Sunday morning (this includes 20-25 kids).  A good number of those people are followers of Jesus Christ and have given their hearts to him.  They are on the path of becoming deeper disciples of Christ and that means growing in stewardship.

However, we have a fair number of people who are not believers.  So…it only makes sense that they would not be as quick to give to the church.  Now, I need to say at this point that I could be completely wrong about this.  I have absolutely zero knowledge about anyone’s giving (except my own family’s).  Anyway, we’re not self-supporting (again with the thought that God’s really the support).

So, we’re cutting where we can cut and going to talk more about stewardship.  Perhaps we’ll ask people to make some commitments regarding their giving for 2011.

I have my annual October headache.

I live in Michigan, though.  And this means that God has blessed me with a headache-help.  It’s called the changing colors of the trees that line my street and leaves that fall on my lawn.  I guess it reminds me that it happens every year, and that God makes it happen, AND that it will happen again next year, AND that next year it will be God, yet again, who makes it happen.

I think he’s got the whole thing under control.  Whether we’re talking about green or orange – it all falls from above.

Proof It

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m going to let you in on something I’m learning about: Coins.

You probably know that coins are minted in three places in the United States: Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.  But did you know that coins minted in Denver (the coins with the “D” on them) and in Philadelphia (P) are the only ones that go into normal circulation?  The “S” coins are what are called proofs.  They are stamped twice instead of once and are much shinier or even mirror-like in the background of the pictures?

The metal make up of coins varies, but there isn’t much nickel in a nickel or as much copper in a penny as you might think.  We call most circulating coins “clad” and they are a mixture of different metals.  OK, back to San Fancisco where they make proof coins.  They make proofs in regular clad and they also make proofs in 90% silver (well, only the dime, quarter, and half-dollar – the others are still clad).  These silver proofs are more expensive because of the silver and they’re super shiny.

The value of a coin is not only based on the metal content, but also on availability.  Availability is usually based on the amount of coins put into circulation (or in the case of proof coins – sold by the mint).  Occasionally, the mints will make mistakes.  These error coins are very rare and can be worth a mint.

I’m currently collecting the Sacagawea dollar proofs that began to be printed in 2000, the Presidential dollar proofs which began in 2007, the state quarter series in (P) and (D), and the silver proofs of the National Park series quarters that began this year.

This is usually the place where I would connect coin collecting to faith or church planting, but it’s not going to happen.  I just figure everybody needs a hobby.

Categories: Yellow w/ White Trim Tags:


July 12, 2010 1 comment

There will come a point when Embody doesn’t fit into our existing building all at the same time.  There are a couple of options:

1. Two Services: This means more work from our musicians.  It could also mean a better opportunity for some semblance of Sunday School for both kids and adults.  It means an early and a later, and it brings about a difficulty for our enjoyable potlucks.

2. New place to worship: this means finding somewhere else to go.  Not easy in our area – there aren’t many options.  We like our space and feel pretty happy with where we are.

3. Purchase the building and add on: This means having money and being a little more financially sound than we are right now.

4. Build somewhere else: This means that we would still have to deal with our space issue while we raised money, bought, and built.

Of all the options, going to two services makes the most sense right now.  I think purchasing and adding on makes sense, too, but that also would entail going to two services for a while.  All of this needs to be balanced by the ongoing question of where should our money be placed: into buildings or into people who need our help.  This is an ever-present discussion.

Of course…we have to get enough people to need to go to two services first.  I think we will get there in the fall when people come back from vacation and we do some more inviting.

Just thinking through the whole thing makes me excited and a little tired. 🙂

Categories: The Slow Grow Tags: , , ,

Vacation Day

Here’s what I saw today: a clock that said 7:14, a bowl full of life cereal, an excited couple of kids, a wet swimsuit rolled up in a wet beach towel, a dryer, suntan lotion, a platic bag for lotion, van keys, printed out admission tickets, kids waiting for me in the van, a clock that said 9:38, gas pump, bank drive through, pen hidden in the glove box, US31 North, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Russel St. exit, a sign that says “Michigan’s Adventure”, a sign that says parking $8, an older lady taking my $8 from a little compartment, a traffic guy whose arm has GOT to be tired, a map of the park, “#40” written next to the keyhole of my $10 locker box,  little signs that say you must be “this” tall to ride, two cheeseburger baskets and a pop for $18, a half-full pop spilling across the table, dehydrated children, smiling children who look a lot like Dana, tattoos, suntan lotion, life jackets, Lazy River, a woman trying to get Bis and herself out of an inner tube while one leg was stuck up and one down through the hole of the tube, myself laughing and not offering to help, a green enclosed waterslide, other fathers carrying more than their fair share of inner tubes up 5 flights of stairs, a shivering boy with blue lips, blue lips smiling, inappropriate tattoos, $4 ice cream cone, extra spoons, towels, more rides, free water begrudgingly given by lady behind the counter of the $4 for a 22 oz. pop place, my kids making faces at the proper moment as the log ride made its descent past the exhorbitantly priced “buy your foto here” camera, wife and son laughing and smiling and yelling while riding the “Mad Mouse” roller coaster, myself grabbing my son to make sure he’s not falling out of  the “Mad Mouse” coaster, Huge eagle tattoo going from shoulder to shoulder of a pretty big dude, $5 refund of $10 locker box (park’s own fake money), 3 girls walking side-by-side texting in unison while not watching where they were going, 3 boys watching 3 girls texting, Bis “driving” a car around the track, $5 chocolate malt paid for with the $5 refund that can only be spent at the park, our van, a sleeping Bis, Holland, parking lot at Crazy Horse restaurant, vibrating blue light flashing “we’ll-let-you-know-when-it’s-your-turn” deal, tasty burger, my mailbox, messy garage, Jack the dog, clock that said 8:47, easy chair, daughter getting her hair brushed after a bath, two little hands in mine as we prayed before bed, two extremely tired children going down without a fight, Dana taking Jack for a walk, easy chair, Dana handing me a movie that needed to be returned, van, family video, my computer.

I hope your day was great, too.