"Road Trip 2016" Family Update
Topic: Stand Alone
ROAD TRIP 2016
At Damascus Road Church we are people who have been Saved by Jesus’ Work, are being Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and are Living on Jesus’ Mission. We believe this makes us a “family of families and individuals” pursuing the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) while growing by the grace of God for His glory and our joy. This includes (but is in no way limited to) progressively growing in health in how we individually and collectively steward the financial resources God has blessed us with. This communication is limited in scope to the financial health of our church family with the hope it will provide clarity on where we’ve been, where we are, where we hope to go, what we believe about giving financially, and what our individual responsibility is to the corporate family on mission for King Jesus.
REAR VIEW MIRROR | Looking Back
2015 was our first full year functioning financially as an autonomous church after sending out Restoration Road Church. This gave us very little historical data to be able to have clear expectations regarding our churches giving and anticipated expenses. Regardless, we did formalize a budget and we continually spent under our best planning. Our financial year began smoothly during the first 5 months as giving was consistent, strong, and we had nearly a month of cash reserves.
However, the road became quite bumpy as our giving was progressively more volatile during the last 7 months of the year. While family expenses remained steady, our family monthly giving was all over the map ranging from >$25k on the high end to <$13k on the low end, with December finishing the year as one of our lowest giving months. Paradoxically, this coincided with a season of tangible growth in several areas including greater attendance in Sunday services, more participation and enthusiasm in various ministries (Road Groups, Men’s, Women’s, Youth ), music, Kids Road, special services, and events.
Our 2016 average monthly giving of $19k was barely above our operational minimum (Facility-Staff) Despite the volatility last year we were still able direct our resources in ways that had a tangible, positive impact on our church body, facility and our community. In addition to our basic operations we:
Remodeled and refreshed our entrance, foyer, and coffee lounge. Using the creative gifts of our people, the Décor Team dramatically transformed the front/side of our space. This made where we gather warm, welcoming, and enjoyable for our church family and those who visit or join us while clearly reflecting our core values of Gospel Truth, Gospel Community, and Gospel Living.
Brought Pastor Randy Loveless on paid staff at a Half-Time contract as Executive Pastor. This had an immediate impact in improving our operations, facilities, planning, pastoral care, etc. Pastor Randy functioned as the ultimate “utility player” as he took greater ownership/leadership, in finances, operations, special services, counseling, music/media, and most recently relaunching FUEL: Young Adults (for Middle and High School Students) which has been exceedingly fruitful.
Sent out our church’s first foreign missionaries, the Dimons, with MAF. Giving both a lump sum and pledging monthly support for the next 3 years, we’re proud to help launch Chad, Jamie, and their two girls into the foreign mission field as a pilot and nurse team with Mission Aviation Fellowship.
Invested in Lead Pastor Training for Pastor Chris Rich trough the Acts 29 West Pastors School. This monthly, cohort-based training with seasoned world-class Gospel Practitioners and other Lead Pastors across the Northwest has been invaluable in helping me grow in my current giftings, while also intentionally challenging me in areas of weakness or inexperience.
Engaged with our local community while building our church community. Externally this included hosting our Strawberry Festival Parade Party feeding-500 people and engaging with countless others, buying 100 backpacks to fill with supplies for Liberty Elementary, hosting the MarysvilleEmergency Cold Weather Shelter, and participating in the city’s Tower Lighting. Internally this included funding parts of Church Without Walls, Men’s and Women’s Retreats, Cinnamon Roll Sunday, Servant-Leader Appreciation Dinner, and other events.
DASHBOARD | What is going on now?
After an up and down and up and down year, we had no margin to save, in fact we've had to take draws from savings a few times this year to support operations. We have entered the year with less than two weeks of cash reserves. As we budgeted for this year, the recent dramatic swings in monthly giving makes accurate and informed planning nearly impossible , funding monthly operations extremely difficult, and stalls our next key initiatives. We need to see our collective giving become consistently strong.
The Finance Team and Elders have agreed to an ambitious budget that we believe reflects our church body’s ability to willingly and cheerfully give/support, even if not what we have demonstrated as regularly, intentional, or consistent. Our planning is not extravagant and is focused on continuing support for our current commitments with the following giving principals and budget proportions.
We view money as a gift, not a god. (Psalm 24:1-2)
We cannot serve God and money. (Matt 6:24)
We trust money is under God’s control, not ours. (Psalm 50:10; Mal 3:10-11)
We accept we are rich because of Jesus, not money. (2 Cor 8:9)
We know our heart will go where we put our treasure. (Matt 6:21)
We believe when our giving is intentional, it will be proportional; when it is proportional, it will be sacrificial; when it is sacrificial, it will be cheerful. (2 Cor 8-9; Phil 4:17-18)
We reap what we sow. (Gal 6:7)
Facilitites - 35%
Staff - 40%
Ministry - 10%
Savings - 5%
SUPPORTING OUR PASTORS | Gospel Truth
Currently the Lead Pastor (Christopher Rich) is the only full-time supported staff pastor of our church of 225+ people. Our Executive Pastor (Randy Loveless) is supported at half-time, working a second job to support his family. We also stipend Monica Norton as a part-time admin/finance lead, to assist the pastors and our church. The remainder of the operations and ministries of Damascus Road Church are performed by willing and able faithful elders, deacons, and members of our church family serving as volunteer missionaries in various capacities.
MAINTAINING OUR SPACE | Gospel Community
A church, our church, is not defined by a building. However, where and how we gather is an integral part of our internal identity and how we engage and impact the community/county our church body resides in. For the last 6 and a half years we have gathered in our current space. In addition to our Sunday gatherings, our space serves to host weekly Men’s/Women’s Bible studies, FUEL Young Adults, a Home School Co-op, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, monthly network meeting of pastors from 3Strand Churches, the Marysville Emergency Cold Weather Shelter, and other church and community events. Not owning the building, we make a substantial monthly lease payment. Our lease rate has fluctuated as we have regularly negotiated with our gracious landlords as we’ve grown, planted, grown, planted again, etc. Currently we pay a fair market rate for our space but there is an annual scheduled increase in our lease rate we need to prepare for in addition to other regularly maintenance and upkeep.
MINISTRY AND MISSION | Gospel Living
A Gospel Community Living on Jesus’ Mission requires more than supporting their pastors and space to maintain basic functions, grow deep internally, and bless their community and world externally. Like any family, some expenses are not exciting but necessary (printing, webhosting, insurance, etc), while others are more exciting, are not essential, but help us celebrate our life together or reach out to our community (Events, Retreats, Parade Party, Service Projects). Most of our events, retreats, studies, we structure to be “self-funding” (eg: purchasing book/material, paying fee to attend) but nearly every activity our church engages in is subsidized in one form or another by our family budget.
We also directly support gospel work/social justice in outside organizations and partnerships, including:
3% to Acts 29 - Resourcing “Church Planting Churches” in NW Region, US, and World www.acts29nw.com | www.acts29.com
1% to 3Strand Churches – Our “Immediate Family” of regional churches in covenant together. www.3strand.org
Monthly Support of Taproot Church | Twin Falls, ID www.taprootchurchtwinfalls.com
Chad and Jamie Dimon | www.maf.org/dimon
Benevolence and Local Missions
Pregnancy Resources Center of Snohomish County | www.prcpartners.org
Housing Hope | www.housinghope.org
Foster the Gospel | fosterthegospel.wordpress.com/about
WINDSHIELD | What is in front of us? Where are we going?
Above maintaining our current commitments, key initiatives we hope to fund in 2016 include:
Finishing the year with 1-2 month of operating expenses in savings. This is essential to our financial health, preparing us for unforeseen challenges, and giving us the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Transition Pastor Randy Loveless as a full time Executive Pastor. For the past year Pastor Randy has received the “second-half” of his income working with Antioch Adoptions. His contract with them is through the end of the year. For the stability of his family, and for the service of our church family, our desire is to have Randy released to be singularly focused on Damascus Road.
Refresh/Remodel Kids Road Rooms and The Box. Many of our Kids Road rooms (and certainly The Box) look more like a prison cell than a Pinterest board. These need to be updated before Easter.
As our church (and our giving) grows we will support more church planting/foreign missionaries, hire additional staff, partner with more social justice organizations, improve our technology, etc.
WE WILL CONTINUE DOWN THE ROAD TOGETHER FUELED WITH OUR CHURCH FAMILY’S CHEERFUL, SACRIFACIAL, AND REGULAR GIVING.
WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
PRAY: Using the questions and scriptures above spend time asking Jesus about how you have and should steward what He has given you to use for His glory and our collective joy.
PLAN: Asses your financial health. Spend time working on your individual/family budget, make plans to reduce/eliminate debt, save, and give. Don’t have a budget or need help? Contact an Elder or start with: www.daveramsey.com/budgeting/how-to-budget/
PARTICIPATE: After prayerfully planning your budget, resolve to actively participate in the mission and life of our church; specifically by cheerful, sacrificial, and regular giving to our church family’s mission.
HOW DO I GIVE TO DAMASCUS ROAD CHRUCH?
Leave it in the offering urns up front or giving box in back during service on Sunday. Mail it to: Damascus Road Church
PO Box 281
Marysville, WA 98270Use your bank’s online bill-pay service to automate giving weekly or monthly. Emailgiving@rdchurch.org for more information. Donate online using Paypal. Note that though this option is convenient, Paypal charges a 3% processing fee for each transaction. That means if you give $100, Damascus Road only receives $97. For this reason, our preference would be that you would consider using one of the above options - particularly for recurring donations.
APPENDIX | Gospel Truth on Generous Giving
What did it mean to “give” to God’s family?
In the Old Testament, sacrificial giving of offerings to the Lord was a lifestyle—it was law. In addition to taxes paid to the king, God’s people in the Old Testament had various other religious giving obligations called tithes. This was usually a tenth of one’s finances or produce consecrated and set apart for special purposes. In the Pentateuch there were actually three different required tithes.
10% First Tithe – From the crops, the fruit of the tree, oil and wine and the herd or the flock (Lev. 27:30-33; Dt 14:22, 23; 2 Ch 31:5,6).9% Second Tithe – 10 percent of the remaining resources after the first tithe (90%) to pay the temple staff (Num. 18:21-32; Heb 7:5). 3.5% Poor Tithe – An additional tithe given every 3rd year to the poor (Deut. 26:12-15).
There was also additional giving such as gleaning for the poor and alien (Lev. 19:9-10), and occasional extra tithes (Neh. 10:32-33). So the total mandatory yearly tithe for Israel was over 23%. Although there was no punishment for not tithing, there were sharp warnings for withholding what was rightfully God’s (Mal. 3:8-10; Pro. 11:24).
What does it mean to give to the family at Damascus Road?
Recent statistics have found that only 12% of American Christians actually donated one-tenth of their income to churches in 2000 (Barna). Church members give an average of 1.6% to 2.5% of their income. Under the New Covenant in Christ, the law has been fulfilled and there is no longer a set financial amount required by church members. But the grace of Christ is not a license for selfishness, rather, it is the example of giving all that one has to the Lord. Biblically, therefore, Christians are expected to give to support the work of God (Matt. 22:21; 2 Cor. 9-11), and support their full time pastors (I Cor. 9:1-12; I Tim. 5:17-18).
Giving is not all about money, though money seems to be the most common idol that captivates human’s hearts. That is probably why Jesus talked about money more than anything else other than the Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus talked about money more than He did Heaven and Hell combined. The Scripture does not give an exact percentage for giving, though 10 percent seems a good standard—to apply to ALL of our lives, not just our checkbooks. In truth, for some, it is easier to write a check than it is to give of their time, resources, or energies to the mission of the church. For others, writing a check is the area of their life where it proves most difficult to submit to Jesus’ Lordship.
Many do not give because they simply do not know how much should be given—they’ve never been taught how to give of their time, energies, or resources. Damascus Road does not require a certain percentage in order to be a member. Below are some questions that God’s Word challenges and guide us on our giving:
Am I giving regularly? Our giving should be on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. Although there is nothing wrong with spontaneous giving, Scripture suggests that we be more mindful and systematic about our giving. Therefore, giving should not be an afterthought or derived from “leftovers”. It should be a result of the firstfruits of our labor and intentionally planned as part of our budget (1 Cor. 16:1-2).
Am I giving proportionally? Our giving should be in accordance with how each of us has been prospered by God; according to our ability (1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 8:2–3). Many of us have been blessed by God abundantly, others have not. Some people can give much more than 10%, others much less. This is an issue that must be worked out in your own heart—but it must be worked out.
Am I giving sacrificially and bountifully? We are called to give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction (2 Cor 8:2–3; Phil 4:17–18).
Am I giving intentionally? Our giving should not be blind. We give in faith to further the preaching and ministry of the gospel. We give deliberately in order to meet a genuine need, not out of guilt merely to soothe a pressing request (2 Cor 8:4; Phil 4:16).
Am I properly motivated in my giving? Our giving is rooted in an understanding of the gospel. That understanding leads to belief; our giving is a confession of that belief. In essence, our motivation comes from a desire to give back to God in worship, not repayment, as He has given to us. Secondary motivations include a love for others (2 Cor. 8:9), a desire for reciprocity (1 Cor 9:14–15; 2 Cor 8:12–14; cf. Gal 6:6), and a reward from God (2 Cor 9:6).
Am I giving cheerfully? Our giving should spring from a cheerful heart which God loves. God is not interested in your money but your heart. Our sacrifices do not mean as much to him as our repentance. We are to do to all things, including giving, without grumbling and with joy (Philip 2.14; 2 Cor 9:7).
Am I giving voluntarily? Our giving must not be reluctant or under compulsion. Giving ought to be done out of one’s free volition (2 Cor 8:2–3, 8; 9:7; Phil 4:18).
Relative to our giving of our time, energy, and resources, we would do well to remember Paul’s teaching in 1Corinthians 9:6-8: “And the point is this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”