SOC Image 3The Fuel for Our Mission: People, Facility, and Money
Three years ago I shared with you that there are three resources that fuel our calling: People (staff and all of you), Facilities, and Money. How are we doing? How do our resources reflect our becoming a growing movement?

People

Our average worship attendance has dropped 30% since I arrived in the summer of 2014. This number is surprising since everywhere I go in this city I hear people longing for a congregation like ours. A congregation that is open to all people, that is willing to struggle with the difficult issues of life, that it’s guiding ethos is the love of God and neighbor, no judgment just grace.

So if we want this kind of congregation to be here for decades to come and to make the difference that we feel called to make in this community on behalf of Jesus, all of us must become loud evangelist, confident storytellers, and loving inviters to the thousands of people that need connection to a community like ours.

This year we MUST grow, not so that we can brag about it, but so that we can fully live into our unique call in this city and beyond. So that we can model that a community of faith rooted in love of ALL people, in the messiness of life in diversity, and in living the way of Jesus in everyday life (the places where we live, work, and play) can be fruitful, sustainable, and shining light in a city like ours.

Our video ministry continues to grow. In 2017 we average 385 people per week who viewed us on livestream and/or recorded services. With our series When Christians Get it Wrong as the most watched of all time and with the most favorable marks of any of our series with people online.

In order to balance the budget, the congregation’s Leadership Team called upon our Staff-Parish Relations Committee (Personnel Committee) to reduce staff costs by $90,000. To that end the committee recommended and the Leadership Team approved the following changes:

  • Eliminate the Director of Discipleship & Missional Life position upon Pete Bollinger’s retirement.
  • Eliminate one of the custodial positions.
  • Eliminate the Rehearsal Director position; George Hancock is shifting to a more affordable Musician-in-Residence position.
  • Continue a freeze in current salary levels.
  • End the executive level Director of Worship Arts search and hire two part-time positions: Our new Director of Worship is Amber Dent and our new Director of Music is Mollie Corbett.
  • Thanks to the generosity of our Youth Parents, we have added Chris Bolin as our Youth Intern.

Thanks to the generosity of our Youth Parents we have added Chris Bolin as our Youth Intern.

I am excited to announce our 2018 Lay Leadership. These are the people that guide our congregation alongside our staff into Mission and Ministry. You can see our 2018 Leadership here.

Facilities

With our renovation, we will be more than ready to live into our call to welcome, love, and serve ALL people in our community. The new space will host us in this next season of our life together.

Money

Due to the struggles in attendance, we saw a decrease of $20,000 in our revenue towards the operating budget. This includes the $15,000 a month that we have lost on average since the flood.

Though I am disappointed about decreasing revenues I am also encouraged.

I am encouraged because you gave over $200,000 to initiatives outside the budget including the #restoregrace campaign that will allow us to remodel the sanctuary without incurring additional debt. I am encouraged because we had 160 Pledges (20 pledges more than last year!) with over 40 Pledges made online as late at December 29, 2017. More of you giving, more of you carrying us into the future with hope.

I am encouraged because our Finance Committee proposed a budget for 2018 of $940,000. This budget is true to our expected revenue, it is very fiscally conservative, and it places us in a stronger financial trajectory in the years to come. The changes in staffing allowed us to bring the staffing percentage against the budget within the sustainable margins of 64%. It is our hope that we continue increasing revenue without increasing our staff budget so that our percentage of the budget for staffing is no more than 60% by 2020.

(you can check out the 2018 Budget here.)

Some of you have asked about the resurfacing of the parking lot following our sinkholes from last fall. We need to raise another $100,000 for the Restore Grace Fund in order to pave the north parking lot from the Fire Station to the Prayer Garden.

It is not too late to go online and get your pledge in for 2018. When you give, ministry happens!

Do This And Live: No Judgement — Just GRACE!
In 2018 we are going to “Do This and Live!” We are going to reach the unchurched and de-churched, especially the ones who’s relationship with the church “is complicated,” we will reclaim our gift sets for narrative leadership, cutting-edge communication, and forming people in the way of Jesus. We will recall again our gifts for incarnational ministry — ministry in the mess, in the real, in the complexity of life, in the struggle, that pushes us to see neighbor where we are, as we continue in ministry to ALL people.

The question is can we reclaim our creativity, can we recall our ability to push the envelope, to be courageous, to take risks, to be mission minded and mission focus while continuing to be an exciting community!

This is us!! So this year we must live it fully, proudly, and engaged beyond us. We must become accountable to one another in our worship attendance, in our generosity towards our shared life, and in our engagement with the people that Jesus called us to be engaged in, with and for. The people next to us, our neighbors, our “kin” not because they live in our neighborhood but because they are fellow human, people in whom God’s image is seen.

Let’s do this and live!

Our place of worship filled with people as diverse as our city, no matter the color, creed, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity. Gathering because they want to worship God, to rehearse community, to be empowered to serve neighbor, to follow the way of Jesus.

Let’s do this and live!

We hosting conversations, inviting key thinkers, leaders, and partners to help us shape others in the ways of Jesus, in the ways of compassion, peace, and love in the midst of difference. To the ways, religion, faith, and community come together.

Let’s do this and live!

We helping our missional partners the Common Ground Community and University Elementary become places that sustainably enable their constituencies (our neighbors) to excellence, empowerment, and interdependence. Coming alongside these important institutions with curiosity about what God is doing in their neighborhoods, becoming participants in what God is already doing and what might emerge.

Let’s do this and live!

We becoming a greenhouse for Leaders in the way of Jesus. People who answer the call to lead congregations, who go into the international mission field, and who provide leadership to key institutions in our community (teachers, principals, healthcare, government, the list is endless). People loving God, self, and neighbor in their workplaces because we have modeled the way.

Let’s do this and live!

We being present in the many cultural and entertainment events in our city. We like Jesus attending the community celebrations, the places where the religious leaders would not enter. Zacchaeus’ house, wedding at Cana, Samaria, cemeteries, the wilderness, and the places where people of “ill repute” would hang out. We present in those places because that’s where Jesus would be found. We, there, with “no judgement, just Grace.” With water, listening ears, and purple t-shirts!

Let’s do this and live!

At each step of the way we finding life. Because when we do this we live!! Live more than ever before! Even in our failed attempts at it, we find new life, we are propelled into kinship.

The Spirit sailing like she did long ago at the beginning of time. The Spirit’s wings flashing like the sun, coming down, again and again, to remind us who we are, to empower us to be Christ in the world, the Spirit flying on through us, in us, around us, the Spirit calling, healing, and turning our mourning into dancing.

The Spirit healing our broken hearts, restoring our isolated souls, renewing our neighborliness (our relationships with fellow ones made in God’s image). The Spirit giving us a “fire under our bellies” for the Way of Jesus, no matter how difficult, for compassion in the midst of difference, and for the determination to be who we are with courage, boldness, and grit.

Come Holy Spirit! Come sailing,
Come Holy Spirit! Come with you song,
Come Holy Spirit! Come full of laughter,
Come Holy Spirit! Come wings unfurled,
Come Holy Spirit! Call us again, empowering us to be your people in the World!
Come Holy Spirit! We are ready!
Call us, empower us, Holy Spirit for we are ready to do this and live!