How You Can Help JLP’s Financial Situation

So far this year, we’ve received financial contributions from 42 families and individuals. Four of those were visitors, so for practical purposes, JLP’s giving “base” consists of 38 individuals or families. If each of those givers would increase their giving by just 8%, it would close our funding gap.

How would that work out? Here’s an example.

The majority of our givers contribute between about $200 and $350 per month. Some are able to give more, of course, while others can’t give that much. But suppose you were somewhere in that middle group, and gave $250/month. Could you increase your giving by 8%, or $20/month? In other words, could you increase your giving by an extra $5/week? If the people who already give to the church did so, it would close our gap.

Maybe you can’t do that. But if, instead, you could increase your giving by even $3/week, that would help us reduce our burn rate. Instead of 10 months, we might be able to stretch our savings to 18 months or 2 years.

A lot can change in that time. Every extra month gives us more time to aggressively pursue our revitalization efforts and for those efforts to begin having an impact.

The same arithmetic applies for people who haven’t been able to support JLP in the past. We aren’t asking you to carry the whole church on your back. But your gifts could make the difference: between a high burn rate and a low one, or maybe even between “not quite solvent” and “actually solvent.”

If you have been a supporter of JLP, please prayerfully consider increasing your giving, so we have more time to pursue revitalization. And if you haven’t been a supporter, I’d like to invite you to begin. Thank you!


Financial Update – Mid 2017

During 2017, JLP has run a deficit of about $1000 a month. We’ve spent an average of $13,996 each month, and received an average of $12,958. Here is a graph showing our income vs. expenses:


(Our spending is remarkably stable. For comparison, last year we spent about $13,995 per month. The vast majority of our expenditures are “baked in” each year: about 60% for staff, 20% for building operations, and 11% for denominational apportionments. That leaves less than 10% for other program expenses.)

Just like at your home, if we spend more than we take in, the difference comes out of our savings. We have three types of savings: cash, investments, and restricted funds. Cash and investments are unrestricted. Council can spend them on whatever it deems necessary to carry out the mission of the church. Restricted funds are money entrusted to the church for specific purposes: Clare House, the Gambell Building Fund, HUGSS, etc. Council has some discretion to say how that money is spent, but only within those limits. Here is a graph showing how much of each type of saving we have:


As you can see, the bulk of our money is restricted funds, i.e., it’s not really our money. It’s someone else’s money that’s been entrusted to us for specific purposes.

If nothing changes, we will run out of cash during July, and we would run out of our investment money early in 2018. There may be a portion of the restricted funds that could be (with integrity) spent on church operations, but it would be pretty small. Even if we could spend it all on ourselves, the total “runway” is only about three years — but we can’t.

Council took action at its July meeting, authorizing the treasurer to borrow $5,000 from the other accounts. We hope that our members can increase their giving enough to stop (or at least reduce) our deficit. That will give us time to focus on efforts we are undertaking to increase the church’s vitality.

(See the next post for information about how you can help.)



Weekend Roundup

Karl Vaters: Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls.

Tod Bolsinger: The Future of Church Leadership. Times really have changed:

He swirled his drink and said to me, “You know, when I began my ministry in a church in Alabama, I never worried about church growth or worship attendance or evangelism. Back then, if a man didn’t come to church on Sunday, his boss asked him about it at work on Monday.”

Seven Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the United States. Analytics FTW.

What Makes a Church Welcoming?

What makes a church welcoming? Writing in the ADN, Chris Thompson offers some thoughts. I especially like this one:

I’ve recommended for years that multiple teams from a specific church need to visit other churches, every Sunday, to see how they are treated, and look for encouraging practices worthy of emulation. By and large, churches refuse to do this, plain and simple.

I do this every time I’m away from our congregation. (During a two week study-leave/vacation, I worshiped with three different congregations — taking lots of notes and a few pictures — in addition to the conference I attended.)

Thompson links to another article he wrote describing one of his visits. This is the sort of thing he’s talking about:

As I entered the doors someone said hi. Going up the steps to the sanctuary level, I was greeted by a man named Roy who offered his name first, a guest-friendly practice. I responded with my name. Spotting me as a guest, he invited me to sign the guest-book, indicating no one would call on me. I mentioned that was not my experience and preferred not to do so, whereupon he seamlessly shifted to offering to find me a seat even though the church was not full. …

Whenever you attend worship somewhere, let me know. I’d love to sit down with you and compare notes about your observations.

Alaska Youth Attend Presbyterian Youth Triennium

A group of youth from Alaska’s Yukon Presbytery attending the every-three-years Presbyterian Youth Triennium are profiled in this article:

Coming from all parts of Alaska, including Barrow in the North to Anchorage in the south, where average temperatures in July range from 60–70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40–50 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening, Indiana greeted them with temperatures approaching or exceeding 90 degrees, and humidity percentatges in the high 70s and mid-80s each day.

(See the picture posted in this Tweet by Chip Hardwick.)

Weekend Roundup — July 24, 2016

UMC: Western Jurisdiction elects openly gay United Methodist bishop. It’s worth reading the press release in its entirety:

In a statement issued following Oliveto’s election, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said, “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

More information appears in another, later, article also from the official UMC website.

ADN: Top Saudi clerical body renews fatwa against Pokemon. So apparently there are at least a few people who don’t like Pokémon Go.

In Germany, Calls for compulsory school Islam classes after axe attack. (I don’t know if they still require education in Christianity, but Germany has a long history of state religion.)

Outreach: What happens when a small church begins to grow?

…she asked, “Pastor, can I tell you something?” I nodded an affirmative yes and braced myself. “I think we have enough people now. I think the church is big enough.” She … was all for new people coming to Jesus. But now we had enough. “I like knowing everyone and feeling like a family. With all the new people, our church feels different.”

Churches bless their community: The Halo Effect:

By exploring almost fifty different factors in twelve congregations, the research group tested a new quantitative approach to how congregations influence local economies. The study explored seven broad areas, …. Relying on a variety of different valuation methods, the study offered an estimated annual economic contribution of almost $52 million, leading the authors of the study to conclude that local congregations can “now be viewed as critical economic catalysts.”

Critics routinely question the tax exemption of religious institutions, but people are asked to vote for taxes to buy football stadiums on shakier grounds.

Related: Churches Offer a “Third Space.” The latest in Ed Stetzer’s series of articles about Trends in Church Architecture I blogged about previously.

And sort-of related: Living Through a Church Renovation.

Any church that has ever considered a building renovation must eventually wrestle with questions like these: What is God calling us to preserve? What is God calling us to make new? In what ways do we hold continuity with the past, and in what ways do we embrace change? And how do we find order and grace in the midst of all this messiness?

And, possibly related: There’s a rule of thumb that says no more people will come to a church service once it’s 80% full. Outreach Magazine argues otherwise: Why the 80-percent rule is wrong.

It was Christmas Eve several years ago, and our service had so many guests show up that we were doing everything we could to create room on the fly: We had to set up folding chairs, we brought in rolling office chairs, we even had people seated on the floor. … There was an energy and vibe in the room that you can’t get without it being over capacity. … During the last couple years, we’ve learned that instead of ensuring we have more than enough space, it is sometimes better to have barely enough space.

Russia’s Anti-Evangelization Law

Pastor Luke mentioned a new law (the “Yarovaya Law”) in Russia that prohibits pretty much any kind of religious activity outside church buildings. Christianity Today has an article that describes the law in some detail:

To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.