Hello Redwood Family,
Have you ever wanted to move forward toward something you believe God has set before you, something you’ve been called to do because you know it’s got your name on it, but, every time you reach for it, it feels like it’s just beyond your reach, just at the edges of what you can do? You can see it, you can practically taste it, but you’re frustrated because it always seems to be just one step ahead of you.
Sometimes this happens because this thing God wants to lead you into isn’t just for you. It’s not yours alone to accomplish. Yes, it’s for you to step into, but not all by yourself. It’s for you to do with others. With others so that together you all get to move into a better future, into a deeper journey of faith, into new growth because God wants to do something new, not just in you, but through all of you together.
I believe that 2018 is a year in which God has new things for us as a church. But there are challenges we are facing that have been holding us back and have the potential to keep holding us back from moving forward as a church. We have been seeing glimpses of this all throughout last year. In 2017 …
- 75 people came to our welcome nights that Christy and I host in our home to discover more about Redwood because of what Jesus has been doing in their lives.
- 50 people took part in our Starting Point and Next Step courses to learn more about faith in Jesus.
- 44 people got baptized in response to Jesus’s love and their desire to declare that they want to follow him with their lives.
- Almost every week we were able to provide food to 50 families through our food bank.
- We were able to give away over $20,000 dollars to help make life better for people in our city through our Christmas events.
- People in our church signed up to begin sponsoring 60 kids through Compassion.
This is just some of what God has been doing through Redwood. Thank you to everyone who gave generously last year. Your faithful giving is helping impact lives as we seek to make Jesus known in our city. I believe there is more that Jesus has for us to be a part of in this coming year as he calls us into a life of bold faith in which we reach further, go deeper, and impact more people for him, trusting God to provide everything we need so we can seek His Kingdom come here and now (Matthew 6:33).
And we will need this type of bold faith to take action to address some of the challenges we are currently facing that have been holding us back and have the potential to keep holding us back from moving forward as a church. Some of these challenges are in ministries that we want to expand, like our kids ministry. Some of these challenges are in ministries that we want to develop, like a special focus to young adult and university age students. Some of these challenges are with our current facilities and the building we meet in every week.
Currently we are having water issues on our exterior lower roof over our kids and youth spaces that is causing leaks and damage every time it gets above freezing. It’s one of the few reasons why I actually ask God to keep the temperature below freezing! The cost of fixing this roof is quite significant. And this is just one of the challenges we are facing with our current facility. There are a lot of other things that need attention and require significant dollars to maintain and update in the coming years.
There is something important about our building and how we take care of it and use it to reach people. It’s where we meet and invite others to join us as we encounter Jesus together. Is our building conducive to facilitating encounters with Jesus? Is it safe? Is it clean and well maintained?
We ask these questions because where we meet should communicate things to new people, things like: This place is for you because we’ve prepared a space to share something really good with you. This place is for you and your family and your friends because we believe Jesus can change your life and the lives of everyone you care about. This place is welcoming and inviting because we believe that excellence is attractive and helps disarm so many of the preconceived barriers people have about church and God and us. It’s that same kind of excellence we strive for on Sundays during our worship services because we believe that giving our best honours God and attracts people to Jesus.
As we wrapped up last year and met together as a leadership team of Board and Lead staff members we were looking ahead into 2018 and we were wrestling about how best to use the current resources we have as a church. We recognized that the current needs are beyond the scope of any budget we’ve ever had before. We cannot do everything, so we were wrestling with where we would need to cut back. Existing staff? Current ministries? Risk further wear and tear and damage to our facilities? I hate it when we have to talk about things like that because I don’t think God wants us to have to step back, but we have to be diligent in figuring out what to do.
For some perspective, the total receipt-able monies given to Redwood (Operating and Capital) in 2012 was approximately $950,000. In 2017 the total receipt-able monies given to Redwood (Operating and Capital) was approximately $990,000. That is only a 4% increase over 6 years or an annual revenue increase of .7% each year. If our annual giving increased by only the rate of inflation, which is typically 1.5% to 2% each year, we would still have to decrease what we do and provide as a church. We can streamline budgets and cut expenses, but the revenue issue will catch up to us again and we would be in the same place in a few years no matter how much we cut from the budget.
One of the important things about having a healthy leadership team is inviting God to lead us as we meet together. As we lean in to listen to each other we gain a broader perspective on what it actually means to be us as a church and what we actually need in order to continue chasing after our mission of becoming fully alive followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus who know it’s not about us, but what God wants to do through us to reach more people with the life changing message of Jesus. As our leadership team talked back and forth, pushed on each other’s ideas, asked questions and shared from our various perspectives, it became so clear that everything we needed to focus on is important in helping us continue moving forward. The cost of being the church God has called us to be in our city is bigger than what we’ve ever put down on paper before.
After reviewing our operational and, particularly, our building maintenance needs for 2018 we determined our Operating Budget needs to be $1,065,000 this year. This does not include our Missions Budget which is a totally separate budget that represents our generosity and faithfulness in giving beyond our own needs as a church. This is a big jump from 2017. It was actually kind of scary when we looked at the numbers. Scary at first, but then it started to become exciting when we saw that this was going to be so much bigger than anything we’ve seen God do in us as His church in the area of giving.
This is going to require all of us who call Redwood home, who benefit from what God does week after week in our own lives, to step up together and trust Him. I’ve never really been all that excited by plans we can accomplish in our own cleverness or abilities. If that was what we were up to, why would we ever need God to show up and surprise us by moving us further then we could ever go by ourselves?
The challenges that we currently face are not insurmountable. In fact, they are pretty easy to address because they are only a matter of money. But money is something that is not always easy to talk about and it’s something that is easy to assume will be taken care of by someone else in a church of our size.
Redwood is a big church and that means we have many advantages as well as some disadvantages. One of the advantages of being a large church is that we have more resources to do things with greater collective impact and reach. There are a lot of good things we are able to do in unique ways because of the size of our church. Just look around on any given Sunday and you will see new people who are exploring faith that we get to welcome and help them encounter Jesus every week.
But, there are also some disadvantages, too. One of the disadvantages of being a big church is that it’s all too easy to assume that someone else will cover the expense. Someone else will take care of it. Someone else will give to ensure that the things we enjoy and benefit from as a church will continue to happen. “They” will take care of it.
I know who some of “them” are and I am incredibly grateful for each one of you who have faithfully and sacrificially given over the years to help make possible all that we get to be and do as a church. Your steadfast faithfulness has helped us grow into the church we are today – thank you! You have been shouldering the burden of taking care of things for a long time. But, now there comes a point when each of us who calls Redwood home has to realize that it’s not just up to them. “They” are “us” and “we” are all responsible for helping make sure that the mission of our church is supported and keeps moving forward.
Jesus clearly tells us to seek first God’s kingdom and God will provide everything we need. This is true for us as individual followers of Jesus and this is true for us as His church. If we are willing to step into this year together and run hard after what Jesus is calling us to, we will see him totally amaze us. I am not talking simply about reaching some new budget goal, though that is definitely a part of it. I am talking about seeing Jesus impact and transform the lives of people in our city in new ways. People we live with, work with, go to school with.
So we are running into this year with great expectations, recognizing that God needs to move in each of us who calls Redwood home to also step up and play our part in this adventure of being church together.
I am asking that you would join us in this endeavour by giving to the ministry of Redwood so we can keep moving forward. Give in proportion to what God has given you. Give consistently throughout the year. Give generously and sacrificially. Give in expectation of what God promises to do when we are faithful to Him with our money. Give so that together we can reach more people with the life changing message of Jesus.
For some of us this will mean increasing our current commitment in our giving. For some of us this means actually beginning to give faithfully and consistently to Redwood. For all of us this means looking forward to what God has set before us and asking Him to surprise us, to take us further, to do more in us and through us in this new year as we give, trusting Him to provide all that we need.
There are many ways that you can give. Online giving makes it easier than ever, providing you with the tools for you to take this step as we all respond to the what God has set before us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church office and we will be glad to talk with you:
(807) 577-3463 / email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to each of you who is playing your part in helping us chase after God’s call on us as His church in our city. I believe that the future God has for us as His church is big. It’s bigger than any single one of us because it’s for all of us to accomplish together. As a church it’s never been about us and it will never be about us. It’s about Jesus and helping others encounter him. But never forget that though it is not about us, it is absolutely for us – for us to step into as we experience Jesus growing us and leading us into the adventure of following him, in becoming more like him, and living in ever increasing generosity toward others, just like he has toward us.
On behalf of our Board and Lead Staff Team,
//Joel Enyart – Lead Pastor