Dear Everyday Church family,
Most of you will know me, but for those of you who don’t, my name is Simon Elliott and I work alongside Phil Moore and the Elders taking a lead on our church finances, staffing and systems. I am writing this blog as the first of what will be a series of quarterly updates to let you know how we are doing financially as a church.
At our last ASK Prayer meeting for our London venues we gave our first report on Everyday Church finances. I shared that there are three key areas when we are talking about money. Accountability, Transparency and Generosity. At that meeting I also promised people this blog – so here it is! My hope is that it gives real information and stirs us all in our faith for our finances.
Accountability and Transparency
As a follower of Jesus, I am called to be accountable for how I handle the resources that God has graciously released to me. For some of us, those resources are large, for other small. I’ve often prayed for more resource, but have learned that actually the amount is not the key issue. The key issue is are we accountable for those resources.
Firstly are we accountable to the Word of GOD for our finances? Is our spending, our saving and our giving shaped by the Word of God? Secondly are we accountable to someone else for our finances. If we are married do we have an open dialogue with our spouse about our money? If we are single do we have a trusted friend who can ask us how we are doing with handling our money? These conversations are so helpful in keeping us accountable and they also enable us to be transparent on our finances. In some cultures talking about money is very open, however, for those of us brought up in the UK it can be seen as impolite to talk about money. The challenge in cultures like mine is that if we don’t talk about money, it is easy to become secretive about our money. When an area is off limits for conversation it becomes easy for the devil to lead us into greed or debt and he delights in both. Biblically we are called to steward our money well and to avoid debt. I have been so helped in both these areas by having trusted friends who have spoken into my life down through the years about how I handle my money. I am sure that if I had not had a key conversation with a great man called Mervyn Thomas when I started my first job and got my first pay check, I would never have learnt to budget, save or give generously to the local church and to others.
It is good to be accountable, it is so helpful to be transparent, but the goal of scripture on our finances is not budgets or percentages, it is GENEROSITY. We are called to be a generous people. We worship a God who did not withhold the very best of heaven, his Son, in order that we might be restored to relationship with the Father. We follow a saviour who did not consider the glories of heaven and divinity something to be grasped, but rather gave them up and took on our humanity that we might be caught up in his life, death and resurrection. We are filled with a Holy Spirit who is given freely to all who ask.
These three areas or Accountability and Transparency enabling Generosity are key for us as individual believers, but we also want them to shape our finances at Everyday. As part of that integrity here is a brief overview of our finances after the first quarter of this year.
January to March 2020
As part of our expenditure we aim to give away 10% of our income to organisations outside of Everyday to enable apostolic ministry, church planting and work with the poor and marginalised. In this first quarter, we committed to giving away £31,800 most of which has already been given.
In this first quarter we also held our Special Offering where we identified two amazing organisations, Open Doors and Frontiers. These organisations work directly with the persecuted church and in church planting in Islamic nations. Although our offering Sundays were right at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. It is fantastic to be able to report that together we raised £50,000. This means we can give these organisations £25,000 each at a time when they are in desperate need of funds. Well done everyone.
As you can see, and not surprisingly given the current situation our giving is down against budget. However, March was actually our best month of the three. Our team at Everyday Church have been very prudent in their spending in the first quarter so we are showing a very small surplus for our first quarter. (There are of course a whole host of figures behind these numbers. If you would like to ask detailed questions please do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org)
Obviously we are not sure what the next quarter will hold for us. We do know that the combination of no hirers in our buildings, the absence of a weekly offering in our meetings and the impact of job losses and furloughing on peoples personal finances, all suggest that our income will drop by 35-45% (£38k-£50 per month) during this lockdown season. The impact on our finances post lockdown is harder to quantify.
For the sake of transparency and for your prayers this is our plan:
- Review all staffing and agree where as a team it makes sense to furlough roles and claim the government assistance for staff costs.
- Review our spending on facilities, conferences and supplies.
- Investigate where we can redeem payments already made for venue hires etc
- Discuss with hirers of our buildings how we can work together to cover rent, whilst also protecting businesses so they can continue after the crisis.
- Keeping a very close eye on our cash flow and reserves so we are not caught out on either.
- We have already made the hard decision to release one member of staff who was on a temporary contract and we have furloughed one member of staff. We will continue to review staffing. in a way that honours our staff team and the giving of church members.
- Introduce a clear “offering” moment in our Online Church Services to help those who normally give on a week by week basis.
Please pray with us for wisdom as we may have some hard decisions to over the coming months.
What can you do?
Clearly this is a challenging time for all of us. Some of us are being furloughed by our employers, some are working harder than ever in tough circumstances, some are not sure they will have a job moving forward. It is easy to feel helpless in this season. However, we have more influence than we think. In this season Gwen and I are trying to do three key things:
- Pray – God is a God of provision and he is our heavenly Father. Whenever we get fearful about our finances we try to get before God and be honest about our emotions. As we fix our eyes on him we discover the security and provision of grace that we need for another day.
- Plan – We are meant to rule over our money, not the other way round. As I am sure many of you are doing in this season we are reviewing our finances and making sure we have a plan for the future. (If you find finances a bit of a mystery all the major banks are offering help online and you can also chat to a trusted friend and get their advice)
- Be Generous and Give – as a church we want to honour our staff team and the organisations we give away to every year. To keep our commitments we need to all play our part. Having prayed and planned seek to be as generous in your giving as you can. Just like the boy who brought his packed lunch to Jesus, when we are generous with what we have God is able to work a miracle of provision.