Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

  1. Yancey Arrington on The grace of repenting to your kids. We do confession each night together as a family and it is becoming an important practice in our family when we reconcile with each other.
  2. Removing the lid of your organization.
  3. Tony Morgan on 10 things people want before they start to give at your church.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 ways to protect a pastor’s kid.
  5. The leader who can’t let go.
  6. Mike Leake on 5 reasons why our small groups stopped doing book studies and why I’m glad about it. We do sermon based discussions in our missional communities and it is the healthiest thing our church does.
  7. Jonathan Dodson on Sermon prep.
  8. One reason why parents (especially men) church attendance is declining.

Changing How we do Church: An Open Letter to Beginnings Church

There are some really exciting things going on at Beginnings Church and I want to make sure you are up to speed with what is happening in our community. We are just a couple of weeks into a new series on the book of Acts called The Irresistible Revolution and it is amazing how an irresistible revolution has started within our community. God is leading us to a great new chapter in the life of our church and I would love for you to be a part of where we are going.  I mean come on . . . when was the last time you got an invitation to be a part of a revolution?

At our core is a conviction that God calls us to do more than just believe in Him and in the teachings of Jesus.  Our mission is to go and be Disciples of Christ to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

As much as that calling is at the foundation of what we believe God wants us to do, we have been unable to act on our core conviction over the last year because of the financial debt that our community carries.

We were founded as a church a little over eight years ago and after a few years, purchased the building we occupy for $150,000.00. The building has been refinanced a number of times and the funds used for both operating expense as well as for capital improvements to the facility. Today our church building carries a mortgage of $418,668.55 with a monthly payment of $3,642.27 and an overall facilities cost approaching $5,000.00 a month.

It is our goal to budget our expenses around a model of 15% to 20% of our income for facilities and operating costs, 50% for salaries, wages and benefits and 30% to 35% to missional activities.

We are currently operating at 57% of our income for facilities, 41% for salaries and benefits and 2% for missional activities.

That 2% is not enough.

We have inherited a lot of debt from the past. When our founding pastor left we were a church of around 225 people and had paid staff to support the church fuctions. When I was elected lead pastor in February of 2007, the church had both full time and part time paid personnel including a church administrator, a youth pastor, a worship leader and a full time administrator for the preschool. Since that time we moved from paid staff to an all volunteer operation. The preschool, which was started to generate income for the church actually had a $72,000 operating loss over its five year existence. The elder board restructured the staffing cost and operating expense of the preschool but could not get it school profitable and elected to close it on August 10, 2007 prior to fall enrollment to eliminate continuing the operating losses. We have cut back on every expense we can yet we are still financially buried and cannot “go and be” the church we believe God calls us to be.

By the way, if you think this is where I ask you to get out your check book or sign a pledge card that is not at all where I am going so you can put those thoughts aside. We are not trying to raise money; we are trying to raise Christ followers!

The elders on our board are good stewards of the gifts that God entrusts to our use to build His kingdom. When we look every month at the money we give to “further the kingdom of the credit union” we believe we are not being faithful to His call. When we look at our debt levels and our monthly deficit, we know it is just a matter of time before we default on our obligations; certainly not a right and just thing to do. When we look at our worship space and preschool facility that sits empty six and a half days each week, we feel like it is a sin to waste this space that could be put to better use, perhaps put to better use by someone else.

That 2% is just not enough.

We are currently a community of about 100 people . . . 100 giving people. Our tithes and offerings on a per person basis are actually 15% above the national average. The challenge is that while we are a community of 100 people, we have the overhead of a community of 225 people. We cannot achieve our mission in Tucson while carrying this much debt. We cannot honor our commitment to God and our commitment to the credit union.  So we have arrived at a decision that is revolutionary but faithful to God . . .

We must sell our church building so we can become the church in Tucson and the world that God calls us to be.

Once we made this decision, God opened doors for us to flourish as a faith community and reach the lost in Tucson. The board has worked out an agreement with Mountain View Church of the Nazarene to share their facilities under a rental and use agreement that allows us to continue to operate as Beginnings Church conducting services and using their worship and classroom space on Saturday evenings. Mountain View is on Pantano near Broadway; less than three miles away from Beginnings current location.

There are a number of benefits that come from sharing worship and classroom space with Mountain View after we sell our building.

  1. Our monthly facilities need will go from $5000 to $1500
  2. We will be able to put more money into ministries and into the community; we would be able to increase missional activities from 2% to 35% of our total budget.
  3. Reduction in expense will allow us to pay Seth, our new worship pastor, a full-time salary
  4. Easier on volunteers
    1. They are already up on Saturday night
    2. Serving is tiring, after church you can go home and go to bed if you want
  5. Easier on families
    1. Don’t have to get kids up for church
    2. Have all of Sunday free together as a family
  6. Larger facility and ground with more useable space
  7. The time we spend on cleaning/fixing our facility can now be spent in the community
  8. We have already outgrown our space
  9. We will have room to multiply kids classes
  10. We will have room to start a student ministry worship service
  11. At our current space, to be a church of 500, we would need to have 5 weekend services, at Mt. View, we would only need 2
  12. Church is at 5, were done at 6:30, the night is young
  13. Go out to dinner afterwards
  14. Meet as a small group afterwards
  15. Meet as a small group over brunch on Sunday morning
  16. Dinner before church where we could feed the homeless or those with less
  17. Don’t have to clean the bathrooms because that is included in the rent; that’s a plus
  18. Give money to ministries here in Tucson that we will now have time to partner with
  19. Have money to launch new sites, plant new churches in the future
  20. Meeting space during the week if we need it
  21. Storage space
  22. Office space
  23. Facility size will help us attract new people
  24. Selling now will avoid what looks like a default on the building loan within the next 4 to 6 months
  25. Keep us on mission

A market value of $750,000.00 has been established for our building with Picor Realty. Their commission fee is 6% if another broker brings a buyer and 5% if they secure the buyer. They believe there is sufficient demand for church facilities in Tucson to produce a sale within ninety days. A sale at that price would yield $250,000.00 that could be used to purchase land as a strategic investment for a new Beginnings Church facility at some date in the future.

The board and I believe that selling the church facility and moving in with Mountain View is the best solution to resolve the precarious financial challenges of Beginnings Church without dissolving the community and giving up on the work that has been accomplished to date.

We believe there are a number of compelling benefits that will put Beginnings Church back into a growth mode and increasing our reach within the Tucson community.

We believe that God calls us to “go and be” in the world to spread the good news and that the operating expense of the facility that we own keeps us from the outreach and missions work that are at the heart of our calling.

We believe as stewards of the resources that God entrusts to our use to build His kingdom that the elimination of our debt and the redeployment of the tithes and offerings of our community are responsible actions for us to take.

If you missed the service this past Sunday, please click here to listen to it.  If you have any questions after listening to the message please do not hesitate to contact me or any one on the elder board.

Leading the revolution . . . care to come along?

Josh Reich