Money: Where Does It All Go?

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By Martin Schlomer

By now, most of you know that this Sunday we are voting on a proposed budget for 2014. Too often, money and budgets are contentious issues in church families. I am pleased to say this is not the case at Elim. That being said, we want members and attenders to be aware of where the money goes. Our goal is to be transparent. The money you give is donated to God as a “… fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice …” (Philippians 4:18). God considers these offerings sacred and they need to be used accordingly to support the work of the Gospel ministry through Elim.

At first glance, budgets aren’t very exciting. They’re like feet … not very attractive but extremely important. The largest budget area at Elim continues to be staffing (pastoral, support, and custodial staffing and associated costs). There is a 4% increase proposed for 2014. Ministry programs are asking for a 10% increase to accommodate growth. Half of this increase is to help cover the costs of student ministry leaders going to the EFCA Challenge conference in July 2014. The ministry area with the largest percentage increase is facilities. In 2013, we budgeted $22,240 for maintenance and mortgage. In 2014, we are proposing $32,240. This includes an additional $6,400 (for a total $16,400) to cover additional maintenance costs like resurfacing the parking lot and painting the exterior of the main building and annex. In addition, $3,600 is being requested to go toward paying down the principle of our mortgage, which is in addition to the mortgage line item. There are numerous smaller changes — increases and decreases — throughout the budget which you can observe at your leisure. All of these changes take the bottom line from $338,536 in 2013 to a proposed $359,491 in 2014 — a 6% increase.

This raises the question, “Can we afford this increase?” Our average weekly giving as of November 10 is $6,541. The proposed budget will require $6,906 in weekly giving. While giving will fluctuate from quarter to quarter, $6,906 is well within the range of our capacity if 2013 is a reliable indication. For example, in the 1st quarter in 2013 our average weekly giving was $7,342.

What is God’s heart in this issue? What is He most interested in? While budgets and financial trends are helpful, the issue in which God is most interested is the condition and attitude of our hearts as we give to Him. Are we generous in our financial gifts to Him? Does our giving reflect the generous grace He has given to us? In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul writes:

11 “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

In summarizing what Paul writes, we could state, “Grace came down; generosity welled up; the Gospel is lived out.” Budgets aside, what matters most to God and therefore to the Elders is the generosity of our hearts. I’m glad to say that generosity is a part of the fabric of Elim. However, we must never take it for granted. There is a culture around us and within us that would seek to erode away giving by turning generosity and joy into begrudging obligation. Therefore, let us always protect, promote, and value joyful generosity.

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Stained Glass and Asphalt

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By Dan Amos

For the next couple of weekends we’ll be gathering to take care of our parking lot. The details will be on the website and in the newsletter. We are resealing our lot because we want to be good stewards of the property which God has given us and which those who came before us worked and sacrificed to provide. We use our budget to support people, programs, and property; as the last “p,” property is often where we make first cuts to make ends meet. We’ve been planning the resealing for years and put it off for several of those years when the funds haven’t been available. Thankfully, the time to get this done is finally here!

We’re not known for having a magnificent facility, but our community noticed when we paved the previous gravel and puddle lot. We’re making some improvements and getting some work done that we’ve put off when times have been lean. We fixed our deck and dry rot issues with in-house labor and did it all for much less than if we had contracted it out. We have a solid deck and ramps enabling access for everyone due to the ingenuity and hard work of many people.

Every year we go through a painful exercise of creating a budget. We set a target based on giving patterns and then form a budget to accomplish ministry within that budget. There’s always more we want to do within that balance of people, programs, and property. Consistently, property gets cut to the bone and many things get left undone. But we’re in an unprecedented situation this year: we’ve had unprecedented giving. We want everyone to know our budget is spent prudently, and we try to do what we can while capitalizing on the precious, limited resources of our people’s time and energy.

Don’t expect to see stained glass in the next, well, probably ever. But, if we continue to be blessed with strong giving, we will take care of our people, support our programs (ministries), and make wise improvements to our facility to make Elim an oasis for renewal with God and one another.

Saturday, August 24, 8 a.m.
We will work on sealing cracks and holes and priming oil spots.

Sunday, September 1, after church
We’ll close off the parking lot and get it ready for Monday’s sealing. We’ll leave it closed off until Wednesday to give the sealant time to cure.

Monday, September 2, 8 a.m.
We need a couple dozen people to come out. Parking will be on the youth house lawn. We’d like to have three teams starting in three corners of the lot and working toward a center. We’ll have people on each team carrying buckets of the pouring material for those who will be pulling wide squeegees and spreading a thin coat over all of the lot.

Please sign up or let me know if you can help on those days or at some other time. Thank you!

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Unprecedented

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By Dan Amos

Last year we embarked on a strategic adventure. As a body, we brought on a
third full-time staff member. We stepped out in faith that the budget would
be met and through your faithful giving and the Lord’s blessing we are
seeing a small abundance that has many praising God on a regular basis. In
nineteen years, I can’t recall a time such as this. We are working on a
strategic response.

Budget line items for grounds and facilities have been routinely underfunded,
and now we have a bit of money in the bank beyond our operating reserve.
Even though some really good deals have presented themselves recently, we
chose not to go after them because they weren’t strategic. This implies a
firmer set of strategic goals than what we had at the time, but we are
working on it.

We’ve begun collecting requirements from leaders and are putting together a
plan. We’re forming a strategic goals team for this reason. We are also
recruiting a grounds team and a facilities team.

The grounds team will look at what needs to be done for lawns and plants,
sprinklers and tools. The facilities team will look at the maintenance
needs of our buildings and property. With lists of what needs to be done we
can prioritize, budget and schedule. These teams will coordinate with the
strategic goals team to make sure we maximize our efforts.

The people we need for the grounds and facilities team need to love Elim and
want to see it thrive for God’s glory. Team members won’t be expected to be
doing the work any more than now, but we need people with an eye for what
needs to be done as well as some people with expertise in various areas.
Elim’s people are great at responding to the call when work needs to be done.
Now we need to identify the work to be done.

If you were here on Sunday and heard the message on our Shepherd and His sheep,
you can see that we need some lead sheep to make the first move. If that’s you,
please contact me and we’ll get to work. Thank you!

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Black Friday and the budget

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by Dan Amos

On Thanksgiving night the attention for many turned to the Black Friday sales. I looked through the ads and saw lots of bright, shiny things I would like to have, but prudence reminded me I can’t spend what I don’t have.

Prudence also guided development of Elim’s 2012 budget which we will vote on this Sunday. We serve the infinite God who has every resource at his command. He has the entirety of creation under his personal attention and care. That is, He sees both the forest and the trees; he sees the big picture yet is active in the tiniest detail. But in this life, He has chosen for us to serve him in more focused and resource-limited ways.

The Elder Board, Staff, Ministry Directors and Stewardship Team each year go through an exercise balancing faith and wise stewardship of the resources we expect to have available to further the ministry of the Church through the local body at Elim. A lot of people have spent a lot of time in preparation, prayer, and discernment of the strategic direction of Elim and this is reflected in the budget. This is most evident in the Holistic Outreach part of the budget. The entirety of projected spending to spread the Gospel of Christ in word and deed won’t be found in just one designated section. Our commitment to discipleship is found in every section, such as AWANA in Children’s Ministries, MOPS in Adult Ministries, and significantly in personnel with the addition of an internship for Holistic Outreach.

Previously we had contracted out leadership of local compassion ministries (through support to Bill Bowers) but our involvement has grown beyond that level. We need someone who can devote regular, concentrated time to directing and leading Elim’s people in spreading the Good News to South Hill and beyond. We expect to propose for 2013 for the internship to be expanded to a full-time staff position. This will continue the expansion of our efforts to involve everyone in the Great Commission.

These are bold plans, but the message is life to those who don’t have it.

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Growth: Embracing the challenges and the opportunities

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by Martin Schlomer

If you hang around on Sunday mornings for very long, it won’t take long to notice that this group of God’s people is rapidly changing and growing. There are a lot of new people representing all generations and backgrounds!

Growth always raises new opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges we currently face is financial. Let me assure you, finances have remained stable even in the midst of a very difficult economy. As of last Sunday, September 18, our giving is only $300 behind budget! Considering that we are just coming out of the summer months, this is incredible! Thank you for your faithfulness!!! However, even though our spending is only $1,800 over budget as of August 31, the pressures on spending are mounting. These pressures are due to expanding ministry demands — which are to be expected with the growth — as well as numerous property issues.

This summer, we built a new shed to replace the one that was literally falling down. We also poured a larger porch on the north entrance to help keep people from falling off the smaller one that was there. We replaced the roof on the annex to avoid the kind of major leaks we had last year.

There are several property issues that we still need to address.

  • We need to repair the septic system at the Youth House which is currently inoperable. The cost will be $1800.
  • We need to replace the stove in the kitchen to accommodate Freezing Nights, KidReach and various other ministries. The estimated cost will be $1100.
  • We are starting a food pantry over in the Youth House to accommodate the needs of Freezing Nights and MOPS which means we needs shelves to store the supplies on. In addition, MOPS would like to have a sink and counter space in the Youth House to prepare snacks for their meetings. The estimated cost is $1000.
  • We are in need of a projector screen for the front of the sanctuary to make it easier for people to see the words for the music and sermon notes. This has become more evident as we seat people further back into the fellowship area. The estimated cost is $800.

These are exciting times at Elim, but how will we meet these needs? On October 2, we will receive a special offering following Communion. Our goal is to raise $5000 over and above our normal offering to cover these needs.

We realize that these are difficult economic times for most. Please seek the Lord regarding how He would have you contribute, and please continue to pray for the health and growth of Christ’s body. My goal, along with the Elders’, is to make sure we glorify Christ in our leadership of this church and in the shepherding of your lives. This is of the utmost importance!

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