The life of a disciple is one of good stewardship. The individual management of our lives and the congregational management of our resources were the topics for a Steward’s Luncheon on Sunday, October 18. More than 30 people gathered after the 10:30 a.m. service for a luncheon to review last year’s financials and the current state of individual giving at St. James.
Pastor began with a devotion on Matthew 6:34. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” One of the challenges to God pleasing stewardship is the fear that we have requiring us to be in control. The realization that God is in control and will provide what we need releases us to manage our responsibilities without that fear. Please read and reflect on this passage from the Sermon on the Mount beginning at verse 25.
A review of our four Critical Targets and a self-examination for reflection followed as Pastor asked the following questions about each Critical Target:
Establish Hearing God’s Word as the Highest Priority Among the Fellowship
- How often do you attend worship when you are in town?
- Do you attend worship when you are not in Chicago?
- Do you read the Bible daily?
Increased Commitment by Individuals to Serving in Ministry
- What percentage of your calendar is set aside for serving at St. James?
- Do you make your Serving Team a calendar priority?
- Are you faithful in your fellowship responsibilities?
Improvement in Congregational Stewardship Witnessed by Individual and Corporate Generosity
- Do you know what percentage of your annual gross income is set aside as your tithe, and is that number a sacrifice?
- Are you faithful and consistent is achieving your goal?
- Would Simply Giving (direct deposit) improve making your objective a reality?
Reflect the Ethos of our Lutheran Identity in the Estates of our Vocation
- Grace Alone – Do you let forgiveness govern your personal relationships?
- Faith Alone – Do you trust God to care for you and act as though you do?
- Scripture Alone – Do you let Bible truths form your worldview?
Revenue comes from many sources in a congregation. Here at St. James we use a funding model with the objective that tithes, plate offering, and tuition and fees should equal operating expenses.
With expenses in 2015 of $1,677,781 and a cumulative revenue stream of tithes, plate, and tuition totaling $1,388,755 we are left with a gap of $282,422 to be funded from other sources. In 2015 those additional revenue streams were Share the Gift and the Traveler’s Gala resulting in a net profit of approximately $38,000. In order to progress toward our objective Pastor proposed a congregational goal of increasing our individual family tithes by $120,000 over three years. That targets 10% growth a year for three years.
The logical question at this point is to ask, “Is that feasible?” And the answer is clearly yes when we analyze the individual gifts of each family as recorded in our contributions system.
Given the standard of living in this area and the level of annual giving by many of our families, it seems most probable that support for the congregation is an afterthought. If you would like to see this data please contact Pastor and he will share some data that will support the conclusion that we are underfunding the ministry.
Please prayerfully review your commitment to the congregation and ask God to guide you in providing a first fruit, sacrificial, proportional and regular tithe in support of the ministry. Consider Simply Giving as an option for improving regularity. Forms may be obtained at the office.
Balance Sheet 2015
When we reviewed the Balance Sheet for the prior year we noted some very good news. Over the past four years we have been able to pay down $400,000 of principle on the $2 million note. This is because of the way our interest rate is adjusted against a fixed payment. When rates go down more money is applied to the principle payment.
It is important to note that the interest paid is recorded as an expense on the P&L. The principle paid does not show up on a P&L but on the Balance Sheet because it is an asset (cash) that reduces our liability (debt). Consequently, while the net profit is $38,000 the actual cash used is higher than that. This further supports the conclusion that our individual family stewardship needs to improve to accommodate our need to reduce debt while having sufficient cash resources for sound management.
We ended with a review of our school’s local mission outreach efforts this year.
- Feed Chicago – A collection of non-perishable food items for Lakeview Pantry.
- Give Me Shelter – A collection of health and comfort items to support Chicago’s homeless.
- Wheels on the Ground – A neighborhood “fund ride” to support World Bicycle Relief’s work to provide Buffalo Bicycles for African villagers. This event is scheduled for May 21, 2016.
Our luncheon concluded with prayer and a thank you to Stella Barra and Summer House on Halsted for providing the excellent meal we all enjoyed. The winter Steward’s Luncheon will be held on January 17, 2016.