Letter to Covenant Members: October 2022
Covenant Members of Park Church,
Our elders and staff routinely sit back in awe at God’s kindness at Park Church. The past year or so has introduced heartache we never wished for, some of which was self-wrought. We’re humbled and yet remain grateful. We’re humbled by what we now see but didn’t before (and are still learning). We’re humbled and grateful at how God has preserved us with such remarkable grace to be where we are right now. And we’re incredibly grateful we have the privilege to pastor and minister within a church family that includes each of you. Thank you for your continued presence, care, and investment.
I’m writing this to share some updates, keeping us connected on matters that I am sure are important to you all as members of our church. What you’ll find below is mostly a financial update with a few other important notes below that. Thanks for your engagement.
Where We’ve Been
For the majority of Park Church’s history, our finances didn’t require much detailed attention. We budgeted, sought wise counsel, made plans, avoided debt (except for our building), and enjoyed God’s kind provision, typically well beyond the immediate needs of our church family. This began to change in the middle of the pandemic. We’ve found we’re not alone in that the local church does not look the same in 2022 as it did in 2019. Throw into the mix the relational losses from our attempted downtown merger last year, and we recognize Park Church has endured a unique blend of strains.
This has a relational effect. It has also been felt financially. In the spring we devoted the time to take honest stock of our financial situation as a church and we came out a bit humbled yet genuinely hopeful. As is reflected in the chart below, we experienced a slow fade in our giving in the middle of the pandemic. However, starting with June 2022, we began to see an upward and stabilizing trend, helping us to finish the fiscal year a bit healthier than we anticipated several months ago.
Where We Are Currently
While we continue learning from this past season, our main concern is with an honest assessment of where we are in order to wisely move forward. Leading into the summer our finance team committed to some particular and swift changes, bringing our entire staff and church family into a revised approach to faithful stewardship and fiscal responsibility. (Our finance team includes John Petterson, Director of Operations; Nick Wolverton, Elder; myself, Neil Long, Executive Pastor; and accounting firm Bright & Associates.) Through individualized and team coaching our staff ushered in some welcomed stabilization this summer. This has set us up well as we enter into this fall season.
How We’re Moving Forward
Our fiscal year kicked off on Monday, August 1. Our summer budgeting project included 15% reductions in the ministry budgets of every department, but did not affect staff compensation. At a general level, we’ve found areas of subtle excess spending that we were able to quickly cut. Part of this plan is also to temporarily halt new hires (except for one that has been in motion for over a year; see below). These reductions were to make a fiscally conservative move beyond “break-even” to get us in a healthy spot for saving well while giving trends have begun to stabilize. We’ve additionally developed more consistent and accessible ways for our department teams to stay up to speed on their actual spending against their budgets.
With all of this, we will not deviate from our generous posture with the finances God has entrusted to us; this is part of God’s heart in why and how he gives us the gifts he does. Park Church continues its commitment to give 10% of what we receive to missions and church planting. And we will continue putting our resources toward the call of the church to testify to God’s kingdom and to build up the body of believers.
Three Invitations For You
As a church family, we bear the joys and tensions of our church life together. Thank you for the (truly) countless ways each of you has invested your lives in and through Park Church. We do not take any of this lightly; your care and continued commitment are sweet encouragements to us. As we move forward in unison, we invite you to three things:
- Pray for wise stewardship, unique provision, and the fruitful work in front of us. God is both the one who sustains us through His gifts and is our very Sustenance Himself. He has provided bountifully and given us the ability to steward his gifts well. May we actively look to Him while making good use of the guidance He has given us.
- Consider again your own financial giving to Park Church. We are seeking to do a better job talking about money in ways Jesus did, as an index of our hearts and a significant tool designed to be enjoyed, invested, and given away. That looks different for each person and family, and often shifts during different seasons. Our invitation here is to consider again what God has given you and what faithful stewardship and sacrificial giving look like, whether in relation to your regular giving and/or as you approach end of the year giving.
- Let’s live into our identity as a church family. Many of the cultural liturgies pressing in around us nearly demand a consumerist approach to life and relationships. Here’s a place where we ought to be a counterculture, living as a self-giving people who seek the good of the other. Let’s be a church that delights in potlucks, joyfully serves on ministry teams, and offers up tangible and intangible gifts to the people around us, whether at Park Church or beyond.
Fiscal Year 2023 Budgets & Projected Income
Here’s a look at our upcoming budgets and projected income.
The Basement Project
Hopefully you saw our update on the basement a few weeks ago. It could feel somewhat incongruous to read our financial update above and then remember we are going to spend money revitalizing our basement. There are two important drivers for how we’re approaching this.
First, the cumulative ministry void created by a non-functioning basement is quite large. A return to a usable meeting space in our basement allows us to again host classes and other events that have been interrupted or redirected. Our growing Park Students ministry (now averaging 30!) will have adequate space to interact and grow together. Families will be welcomed through an inviting and beautiful space as they enter Park Kids, consistent with the rest of our building. We will again have capacity to host wedding receptions and community events, acting as a genuine service to our church and broader community. These merely top the list. For those who remember the basement, you probably recall just how much good work was done in that space. We’re excited to retrieve it!
Second, we are stepping into this project with financial attentiveness. There was a much more expansive plan we had talked about a couple years ago; we are setting many of those elements aside for now in order to simply get it functional while not sacrificing aesthetics or excellence. Also, we do have some insurance money and savings that we are able to put toward this project. Per input from our financial advisers, investing in a tangible asset (our most important one) allows us to maintain financial health while putting resources toward a worthy ministry pursuit.
As mentioned above, we are putting a pause on new hires for right now. The one exception to this is a part-time Community Coordinator position. In mid-2021 we had begun conversation about this role to cover some of our gaps in our largest ministry: Gospel Communities. With roughly 90 GC leaders, 13 GC coaches, and several hundred people in groups, we have needed more support for some time. Given our last year, we waited until this fall to move toward this hire. We really look forward to what’s in store for this new role and the many of you who will experience the benefits from it.
We have additionally been able to bring on two support-raised positions for the next year on our Family Ministries team. Madelynne Starbeck and Trinity DeHerrera both served as interns this past summer; Madelynne with Park Students and Trinity with Park Kids and Park Students. Our kids, students, and families have come alive through the presence and leadership these two women have provided. Madelynne has committed to one year as our Park Students Coordinator and Trinity has likewise committed to the next year as our Park Kids Coordinator. Each of them started this fall. When you see them, please communicate the gratitude and recognition that is due the fruitful investment they are each making in the lives of so many young people at Park Church.
Our Next Family Meeting
Please join us at our next Family Meeting! We’ll be at the Park Church building on Sunday, November 13 from 6:30-8:30pm. We look forward to being with you all. You can RSVP for that below.
We can’t say it enough: Thank you for who each of you are and the vital part you play in our church family. It is a joy to serve the church with each of you.