by Richard Bishop
Hebron Church is at the outset of an exciting period in its existence. We’ve started “Say Yes”, asking our members and friends to commit to the ministry and missions of the church. A team is being formed to start the search for a co-pastor, funds are being set aside to be able to quickly respond to ministry opportunities, renovations are in the works for the Barclay Building, and the 2018 budget has been passed with a planned deficit.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Stewardship Team and the Session are moving into 2018 with a deficit budget.
At this point, you may be asking if this is smart or if it indicates there is some kind of problem at the church necessitating this type of decision. To that, I would answer that it is quite the contrary. The Session is planning for growth and the future, and sometimes, something different needs to be done in order to make that happen. A friend of mine on Session keeps reminding me of a simple fact, and that is “Ministry costs money”, of which Hebron does a lot, such as:
§ Hebron’s Children’s Ministry uses Kidz Club, Family Night Lights, Vacation Bible School, and the children’s groves to teach our younger children about God’s love and His plan for them;
§ Our Student Ministry engages our older youth with Thicket, Hedge, and Vine, as well as finding ways to mentor and build relationships through one-on-one meetings, retreats, week-long camps, group gatherings, and social media;
§ There are three distinct services in two separate buildings on Sunday mornings;
§ Groves are held both on- and off-site six days each week, and the Discipleship Team began teaching “Course of Your Life” sessions in 2017, and;
§ Hebron supports both local mission agencies, such as The Blessing Board, St. James Fellowship, and Penn Hills Service Association, and global missions like Caribbean Youth Network and Ethnos 360.
Could we balance the budget by cutting back on those things? Of course we could, but that would hinder Hebron’s ability to realize its Vision, which is that God will use Hebron to show Himself to the world, and to fulfill its Mission, which is to encourage God’s people at Hebron to grow DEEPER in God’s love, STRONGER in devotion to one another, and BEYOND the bounds of our congregation with the love of Christ.
There are specific items that are increasing the 2018 budget, including:
§ Increased costs for water and sewage, which rose in 2017 and will stay at that level into 2018
§ Higher staff insurance costs
§ The Personnel Team’s desire to provide merit increases to staff and move our Director of Children’s Ministry to full-time.
§ The Discipleship Team’s request for additional funds to continue its work in training leaders, educating members, and providing qualified leaders for youth trips as well as childcare within the church walls
Now, before anyone gets deeply concerned, please know that this is only planned to be a temporary situation. The Stewardship Team intends to target balanced budgets going forward, but it recognizes that 2018 is a good time to have a deficit budget, as there are sufficient funds in the Hebron Fund (basically, the church’s savings account) to cover the gap, provided congregational giving maintains its current levels.
However, it is possible that we don’t have to tap the Hebron Fund or even go into 2018 with a deficit at all. In January, the Stewardship Team is distributing pledge cards related to the 2018 operating budget. We are asking you to consider what gifts you can give to provide for the ministry and mission of Hebron and to possibly increase your giving as you are able. It is very likely that most of us could think of something in our lives that we could give up, either in part or in full, in order to give a little bit more back to God each week or month. As Stewardship Chair Mike Tomashewski mentioned in his “Say Yes” message in September, this may be a cup of coffee at Starbucks, eating lunch out, or something else entirely, that we could give up, either in part or in full, in order to give a little more of God’s gifts back to Him.
At the most basic level, if every member of Hebron increased their giving by just $1 per week, not only would the deficit be eliminated but there would be a slight surplus at the end of the year. We recognize that for some, this might not be possible, but for others, more than $1 per week could be easily achieved. Please prayerfully consider your 2018 pledge; and if you join me in being enthusiastic about Hebron’s plans for 2018 and beyond, think about how your increased gift, no matter by how much or how little, can be a blessing to Hebron and its community.