Hello Church Family

I hope you’re having a good week! This week’s update is dedicated to our 2021 General Fund budget. You can read a print version of the 2021 budget proposal here. You can download a print version of the budget here.

While we’re on the topic, don’t forget that we released our 2021 World Missions Offering and giving goals last week and are emphasizing that offering for the month of December. Many of you have already decided to give generously. You can read more about it on last week’s update or give online here.

Pastor Wes gives a video update to go long with this weekly update email.

 

THE 2021 GENERAL FUND BUDGET

Throughout 2020 our church has demonstrated an inspiring level of generosity even though we’ve been scattered in our homes and physically distanced due to COVID-19. It was truly remarkable, given the decreased “in person” attendance and length of time many people have been separated from gathered worship all together. 

Late this fall, we began to see a dip in giving to the General Fund. In October we had a shortfall of $4,324. While October started strong, later in the month giving began to drop below the usual trends. In November there was a drastic drop of $23,485. Each week saw far less than the usual giving trend. The verdict is still out for how we will finish the year. (week one of December was encouraging)

While we don’t have a complete understanding of why this is happening, there are several things to consider. One of the most obvious factors is the number of people in our church family who went home to be with the Lord this year. Since September of 2019, 31 people in our church family have died.

When you consider this alongside the people in our church who’ve lost jobs, been temporarily furloughed or have just experienced an overall financial hardship, it makes sense that our giving is beginning to take a hit.

It’s also possible that the extended time people have spent separated from gathered worship is causing a drop in their commitment to regular tithes and offerings. Similarly, some may be redirecting their tithes and offerings to another church or non-profit here in town.

Until we do a deep dive on the numbers and have more time to study the trends, we won’t really know for sure. But the facts we do know suggest that giving in 2021 will likely be lower than giving in 2020 unless there’s a season of significant growth in 2021 or some other sovereign intervention from the Lord.

While I’m certainly praying and believing God for such a move, it would be presumptuous and bad stewardship to forecast a General Fund budget that goes beyond a reasonable assessment of the current trends. Bold faith and heavenly wisdom work together, not against one another.

My spirit tells me that while we are going to experience a renewed strengthening from the Lord and future growth in 2021, the financial largess of years past may not follow us at the same rate as prior years. Nobody knows the future but there are good reasons to think this is true.

For all of these reasons, we’re entering 2021 with cautious optimism for what the next fiscal year will look like. We are presenting a General Fund budget that is 4.69% lower than 2020.

Unfortunately, increased costs in medical and building insurance raised those budgets by close to $35,000. For us to reach that 4.9% drop we had to make $79,929 worth of cuts. It was not a fun process and everything took a hit. 

The General Fund budget for 2021 is set at $913,500.

As you can see from the picture above, this move will lower Cooperative Program and local missions giving as it is a percentage of the overall receipts.

Under personnel, you’ll see a decrease in salaries and retirement but an increase in insurance/taxes. The increase is due to elevated costs in medical insurance. Changes in staffing account for the decrease in salaries. We also made cuts to staff benefits like end of year bonuses and no staff received a raise

We have removed the position of church secretary from our annual budget. Removing this staff position was handled by the pastoral team as they function as the personnel team in our constitution and by-laws (article II, section II). This was a difficult decision and any questions regarding this change can be directed to me or members of our pastoral team.

Under ministries, there has been a $17,560 decrease. While we hate to decrease ministry spending, it was necessary given the elevated costs in insurance coverage and decreased giving. We have also recommended a $6,000 decrease in our educational expenses.

While operational expenses are generally pretty fixed, we were able to save $13,982. Decreased use of our facilities and lower energy costs created savings on utilities and general campus maintenance. This helps cover the increased costs in building/auto insurance. We will shop our insurance providers to see about additional savings.  

Debt retirement and capital improvement line items have remained the same. We will pay off our FFB loan using cash reserves from the forgiven PPP loan. However, we plan to leave the line item for opportunities of future growth.

These budget cuts were not easy to make. However, we are moving forward with confidence in the Lord and hope for the future. Even though COVID-19 and our national response to it have brought many negatives, it has also reminded us that our ultimate security is in the Lord! We will move forward with a renewed dependency on Him and His will for our church.

Thank you for your careful consideration of these things. We will vote on the 2021 budget on the last Sunday of this year.

If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to myself or a member of our finance team. (Howard Thompson, Jayce Barbee, Georgia Hamilton, Justin Edmunds, Armando Oakes)

If you have questions related to personnel changes, please contact myself or a member of our pastoral team. (James Parker, Darrell Scott, Wes Terry, Vernon Ferguson, Randy Voorhees)

Until He Comes,
Pastor Wes

ANNOUCEMENTS & UPCOMING EVENTS

For the last Sunday of 2020 and the first Sunday of 2021 we will only have TWO morning worship services.

The traditional service will be held at 9:30 and the contemporary service will be held at 11:00. There will be no on-campus adult small groups.

The nursery and childcare will still be available for both hours.

Starting January 10th, we will resume all three morning worship services.

December Family Mission Opportunity

For the month of December, the Preschool and Children’s Ministry will be collecting money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Each child will receive an individual bank to collect funds throughout the month.

You can also give a cash or check donation using the World Missions Offering envelopes from the Lottie Moon tree located on the Connect Table in the Gathering Place or West Campus Sanctuary. This project is a great opportunity for teaching your children (or learning yourself!) the story behind the Lottie Moon Offering.

Learn more about Lottie Moon and her compelling story here. 

Families In Need Tree

Remember that THIS SUNDAY is the deadline to have your gift returned and placed under the families in need tree in the Gathering Place.

We are so thankful for the outpouring of generosity that took responsibility for every need listed. These gifts will be delivered to families in need around the city of Abilene. Thanks for helping us “bless our city.”

 

Join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service this Christmas Eve. We will have TWO services this December 24th.

At 4:30 there will be a short “Family Style” service. This service won’t have lit candles. Instead there will be kid-friendly glow sticks. In place of a sermon there will be a kid-friendly Christmas story. Families will be in and out under 30 minutes so they can get home to their other Christmas plans.

The 6:00 service will be the traditional Candlelight Service. We will sing Christmas carols, there will be a short Biblical meditation on the message of Christmas and then we will finish the advent wreath by lighting the Christ candle and singing Silent Night together.

It’s one of my favorite family traditions! I hope you’ll join us for either service and invite a friend.

New Ladies Bible Study
Starts January 13th – 10AM & 6:30PM

 

Do you ever feel like the happy ending of your story is a million miles away? Then you know how the Jewish people felt when they returned to their wrecked land after exile and began rebuilding the temple. They were distracted, discouraged, and ready to throw in the towel.

But the prophet Haggai reminded them they could find courage in the God who had never left them. Sometimes the landscapes of our lives feel wrecked, with our hope and purpose in shambles. We too get distracted and discouraged. However, God’s presence and promises give us courage to press on and trust Him with our story.

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