End of year
We are thankful that your generous giving allows us to remain a beacon of hope to our families and communities, a lighthouse that continues to guide and direct people away from doubt, fear, and confusion.
As Financial Partners with Living Waters, we are continually thankful for you! With that deep gratitude, we come to you today to highlight our church’s current financial situation.
First, we would like to honor and thank our Leadership Council, who pray for us, challenge us, and advise us on every financial decision we make. As a church in our community, we would not be making the impact we are without this group of volunteers who have stepped forward to lead as representatives from our congregation.
Financial Council Leaders
- Tess Faust
- C.J. McPhail
- Alyssa Kerlinger
- Jerrick Murrey
- Tom Boyles
- Dennis Browning
- DeAnna Sickler
- Brad Gretz
- Sommer Bury
- Tanner Fairrington
They help us diligently steward the resources of this family toward greater impact and the ongoing embodiment of the Good News of Jesus to the Rogue Valley.
Now, to the update I have put off writing
Due to a variety of reasons, some of which is the recent fires, as well as the ongoing shutdowns we are enduring because of Covid, and the economic devastation and uncertainty these factors have created – our monthly giving has decreased by ~35% for the last several months.
Thankfully, we were able to save the money we received from the Paycheck Protection Program to cover the budget shortfall for October thru December.
I have put off writing this update because we do not want to put an unnecessary financial burden or unhealthy expectation on you. You are likely encountering a challenging financial season as well. If you have lost a home, a business, work, income, cut your hours to help your children with school, and can no longer support Living Waters financially, please be freed from any stress or residual religious guilt that your decision to reallocate funds to care for your needs and family may cause. We understand that your heart is to give generously and in faith. You are not failing! You are loved. We honor your diligence to work toward and pray for an increase in finances through new jobs, increased hours, kids returning to school, and other creative ways that only God can orchestrate.
I’ve also put off writing this update because we know that some have stopped giving because you don’t feel like we are “open” enough as a church during this time. While we hope that everyone sees that we are more active and engaged than we’ve ever been before, we also know that other churches are doing things differently than we are. From the beginning of this saga, Kate and I, and the Leadership Council understood that there would be no way we could navigate these waters in a way that would please everyone. With that burden lifted, we have tried to remain in what we believe God is guiding us into, in the way He is showing us to lead.
If you have left our church during this time or have withdrawn your financial support, we fully validate your decision. While we want everyone to love and support Living Waters and who we are as a church, and how we are moving forward, we also know that we are a unique church that won’t be for everyone. When people feel led to attend or give to another church, we respect and celebrate that because our desire isn’t that everyone comes to our church, but that they go to the right church that challenges them to be transformed into Christ-likeness. That’s what freedom looks like!
And finally, I’ve put off writing this update because we know that some of you have seen this season grow your life away from “church.” Church attendance was a healthy habit, and now that it’s broken, church doesn’t have a firm place in your life. Meaning, you haven’t found value being returned by your financial investment into Living Waters, and you’ve stopped.
If you find yourself feeling ambivalent toward church, that doesn’t make you an after-thought. Many are experiencing a defragmenting of their faith and asking essential questions like, “why do I go to church?” “Why do I give financially?” We think these questions are healthy for your journey toward a Christ-centered life! Do not attend or give out of religious habits. Let it become a desire of your heart, not a behavior to check a box.
However, if your church experience is primarily Sundays, not having a typical gathering on Sunday week in and week out can leave you feeling disconnected or discontent, overlooked, and a bit lost in this shuffle. If that describes you at all, please let us know (reach out). Not so we can gain your financial support, but because you matter! We have tried very hard to stay connected and provide various ways for people to “plugin” – but we would be delusional to believe that we have reached everyone consistently.
We have had to rely heavily on video, writings, emails, social media, and sharing our content through technology for the last several months. We have also had to rely on people engaging in Community Groups, taking personal responsibility for their relationship with Jesus, and reaching out to others around them as His Spirit leads.
Those are all vitally important, and so many of you have embraced these new rhythms. We believe we are dispersed, but not disjointed. We continue to move our model from parishioner focused, to each of us learning to function as pastors/shepherds at-large, focused outward. We have grown from attenders to owners, from centralized to decentralized, from effective when people are gathered to effective when people are “scattered.”
While we cannot wait to regather weekly with no restrictions, we are seeing a powerful model emerging in this time as we remain surrendered to Jesus!
BY THE NUMBERS
Living Waters was a church of around 800 people last March, with a monthly income of ~$48k, and a monthly budget of $46k. While we’d like to ignore numbers, that’s not reality. Openly addressing financial numbers and how they relate to ministry is always an awkward conversation that can trigger people, myself included, so please extend grace to us. We value transparency and accountability in our finances. We believe that if healthy families talk openly about finances, churches should as well – without guilt, coercion or blame. Achieving certain numbers is never the goal, but they are indicators and way-markers that help us lead and make wise decisions. When they drop as drastically as ours have over the last half of 2020, we have to address it, and make difficult adjustments.
Thursday, December 3rd, we will be sitting down with the Leadership Council to begin forming our 2021 budget. We ask for your prayers as we face some challenging decisions that will have a profound impact on our church moving forward.
Additionally, be praying for Kate and me. We are taking a couple of nights away to pray over the church, for fresh revelation of His Spirit as we seek vision into this next year.
Please hear this in closing. We are neither daunted nor discouraged. We are a bit weary, which is why I (Ryan) am personally excited for our Christmas theme this year – “the thrill of HOPE, a WEARY world REJOICES…”!
It’s going to be a great Christmas!! We can’t wait to see what God is up to.
We love you deeply, and pray for you daily!
Ryan & Kate