Did I ever tell you about the time I walked 9KM to get home, at midnight, in a snowstorm, on Christmas Eve? Yep… I know… sounds like a story your parents would tell you… but that’s what I did. I was 18 years old, and I was visiting my girlfriend’s family for Christmas (her name: Tryphena). Believe it or not, I didn’t have a driver’s license (or a car), and would ride my bicycle everywhere. Well, this night was not exactly “bicycle weather”… so I walked. I could have asked for a ride… that would have been easy. Her dad loves to give people rides, and the quality time it affords him to build deeper relationships on the journey. But that just wasn’t who I was. I didn’t know how to ask for anything. Was it pride? Embarrassment? Some other diagnosis? Bottom line: I am the worst at asking people for help.
Anyone else like me? I find it so much easier to do it myself (even if that means walking 9KM in the snow). Come to think of it… solo pastoring a small church and suffering burnout and a mental breakdown at the ripe old age of 29… I wonder how much of my inability to ask for help impacted that? Probably not at all ;).
Years later, I find myself as your pastor. Same guy, but with a driver’s license and a Toyota. A really, really, sexy Toyota. (A 2013 RAV4 to be exact). But behind the wheel of my motorized vehicle is still someone who finds the idea of asking for help deeply uncomfortable. With that said, I also know the cost of trying to do it all on my own. As I stepped into the new role as your Lead Pastor in 2021 (that title still feels strange) I became aware that one of my responsibilities was stewarding the finances of the church.
At the beginning of the year, I shared my first financial update with our congregation EVER! Not gonna lie… it felt like I was asking for help. On top of that, I was asking for money… in a church. Didn’t someone say, “don’t talk about religion, money or politics?” Yuck! Only politics left, and I would have banged out the three deadly conversation sins.
I hated the idea of it. I hated the preparation for it. I didn’t want to do it. But I realized, I wasn’t asking for help… I was inviting our community – YOU – to be part of something, and by not telling you, I was removing your ability to know of and respond to a need. I was essentially saying no for you.
So I did it. And then I promised to continue doing it. And then something really cool happened. Someone responded. And then someone else responded. Someone donated for the first time. Someone increased their giving. And I didn’t just see changes in generosity patterns; I got to hear stories from real people about why they decided to direct their generosity toward Lakeside. I got to hear how our desire to help people discover and fully follow Jesus was being seen and experienced by our community members in ways the average attendee doesn’t always get to see.
I got to hear stories from:
- Parents whose teenagers were feeling at home for the first time since the pandemic began.
- Lakesiders who brought their friends to Lakeside, and their children said it was the best day of their week.
- Long-time congregants whose adult children were coming back to church and exploring a relationship with Jesus.
- People who felt alienated by a church, but felt safe and at home in our midst.
- Spiritual abuse victims who were giving God another try, and finding Lakeside a safe space to try.
All this was possible, because for more than three decades, Lakesiders have faithfully given of their time, energy and resources to help create a community and space for people to discover and fully follow Jesus.
So today, I want to write to you as my family. As Lakesiders. As my fellow travelers who love the idea of continuing to be a community that helps people discover and fully follow Jesus. And I want to ask you to partner with us.
It is no secret that the last few months have been financially challenging for our community. For the first four months of this year, we had a $46,000 deficit. That is taking into consideration that as a staff, we have cut our budgets repeatedly to continue to pivot to the times. We have deferred maintenance and replacement on some of our key technology, squeezing every ounce of life out of them… (Sometimes, literally to the death). Believe me… I know how to stretch a buck (take my BBQ as an example). But there are times, the squeeze actually begins to hinder what we are doing. (Case in point, our 12-year-old live-streaming tech that bit the dust a few weeks ago). As a good friend of mine likes to say, “We can’t cut our way to the future; at some point, we need to invest in it.”
Friends, we’re not going to stop. I am convinced God is doing something in our midst.
- We have a Young Adults gathering about to launch (if you’re a recent high school grad or you’re in your 20s, and you haven’t heard this news yet, scroll down to the PS).
- At Lakeside 101 last month we had to turn people away because we didn’t have enough space for all the newcomers.
- A newcomers small group will be launching in a few weeks to help all the new faces at Lakeside get connected.
- Our Celebrate Recovery (CR) team is working on a new initiative that we can’t wait to tell you more about.
- Griefwalk is in higher demand than ever before.
- Our Lakeside Youth and Lakeside Kids ministries are growing every week.
- The next generation is signing up for partnership.
You might be asking, if all this is true, why is our income lower than normal? Great question. There are many factors. From the beginning of the pandemic to the place we find ourselves today, our income has slowly and steadily decreased. Many variables played into this: congregants moving, rental groups not renting, congregants finding themselves in financially difficult times, and so on. We have continued to make changes along the way to match that reality.
With that said, I see the tides changing. Thirty-one new households have started giving to Lakeside in 2022. That is more than twice the number of first-time donors than in previous years, in the same time period.
So, here is my ask, friends: Will you join us in this? If Lakeside is home, and you are excited about being part of creating a safe place where people can discover and fully follow Jesus, a place where they can find healing and wholeness, can I ask that you consider partnering with us financially?
I realize there are all kinds of different places you might find yourself in, so here are a few ideas of next steps in financial partnership.
- A one time gift. You can do this in under two minutes with a credit card on our website. Maybe you have never given before, and this feels like a manageable first step.
- Set up Pre-Authorized Giving (PAG). It could be as small as $5 a month or as large as you feel led. When you give this way, we are able to budget based on your commitment.
- Increase your current amount. Your increase doesn’t need to be a lot. I knew one couple who always wanted to grow in generosity, so every year, they just added a little bit more. Some years, it was a fraction of a percent… but they refused to go a year without growing in generosity even a little bit.
We recognize there are people in our congregation for whom this isn’t possible at this moment. They’re stretched thin and don’t have a dollar left at the end of the month. We totally understand. But for many of us, this is something we can do. And so, I invite you to pray about what that could look like in your budget next month and beyond.
Well friends, you made it! If that wasn’t enough detail… I’m going to share even more numbers and some nitty gritty details at our upcoming Partners’ Meeting on June 15 (even if you’re not a partner you are welcome to attend).
In the meantime, if you have any specific financial questions, you can reach out to our Operations Director, Kevin Lloyd. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to carefully consider the options of how to partner with us in helping people discover and fully follow Jesus.