By Pastors Justin Rossow and Dan Flynn
The low February giving seems to have been an anomaly. Strong giving in March and solid worship attendance have established an upward trend. The Celebration and Giving Extravaganza on May 16 and strong spring giving are important because they will lay a foundation for next year’s budget. Our staffing needs are increasing, and strong support will enable us to fill vacant positions and expand appropriately.
March giving was up 29% ($37,916) from projected figures. At the same time, March expenses were down 8.5% ($11,840) from what we budgeted. Together, these two positive trends mean that we regained all the ground we lost in the lower-than-expected giving month of February. The Living Water Land Fund also increased by another $5,000 in March.
Recent Trends in Light of Our Yearly Plan
A strong March has helped us get back above the revenue projections for this year. Finishing this fiscal year ahead is essential for two reasons: first, our cash reserves are important to a healthy cash flow from month to month. They also allow us to cover emergency expenditures that may suddenly arise.
At the end of March last year, our unrestricted, undesignated cash reserves were right around $22,000; this year, by contrast, the same kind of cash reserves total above $106,000. The second is a much healthier place for a congregation with a yearly spending plan as large as ours.
Second, a strong spring will help propel us into a new fiscal year. Worship attendance is increasing. Ministry is expanding. Exciting things are on the horizon. To move forward as a congregation, we will need to fill several vacant staff positions and increase overall staff support.
Growing staff in proportion to growing ministry and income is a bit of a balancing act: grow the staff too quickly and it is difficult to fund adequately. Get too far behind in staff support and mission and ministry will suffer. The stronger we can finish this fiscal year, the more leeway we have in next year’s budget to take a step forward in advancing our kingdom influence.
Notes on the numbers:
- The St. Luke–Ann Arbor giving is above projections and reflects a similar growth in attendance. Average Sunday attendance in Lent, for example, was 482 this year, up from 394 just two years ago.
- Living Water giving stayed consistent in March, even though the Land Fund continues to grow. This indicates a strong commitment both to the multi-site and to the potential for future building in Whitmore Lake.
- University Lutheran Chapel continues to meet expected giving levels, even in vacancy, showing a strong will to keep ministry moving forward while we seek God’s guidance for a new site leader.
March YTD Expenses Include Four Months of Double-Principle Mortgage Payments of Approx. $24K.
Our ministry in the St. Luke multisite is strong and healthy. We don’t need to let the ups and downs of giving patterns distract us from other exciting acts of generosity and mission.
When April numbers have been evaluated and May giving is in the books, we will have a clear picture of where we stand going into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Filling vacancies at the SLAA and ULC sites will mean we are as close to fully staffed as we have been in the last five years. While there are budget challenges related to being fully staffed, the potential for mission and ministry is substantial. This is an exciting time to be a part of what God in doing in the St. Luke multisite!
What Can I Do?
Be part of the Celebration and Giving Extravaganza. If you are able to attend this dinner and giving event on Friday, May 16, please RSVP. If you are not able to attend, please consider what special gift you may be able to give to help support the weekly mission and ministry of your congregation. (You can give online here.) Our ministry depends on this event to support everything we do, from worship to outreach, from lights to youth group, from nursery to care ministry. Please remember your own generosity and discipleship as you decide what step you might take to grow in the grace of giving.
Attend the Living Water Golf Outing. It’s a fun and friendly way to support our work in Northfield Township. And all the proceeds go to prepare for the future of our Living Water site. Bring a friend. Bring a colleague. Get your office or company to be an event sponsor. But make May 31 a day of fellowship as well as generosity.
Show up and open up. Regular attendance in worship helps keep you connected to the community and to what God is doing in your congregation. Pray for your church and for the leaders who are even now trying to put together a plan for ministry in the next fiscal year. Consider where you might like to serve. And keep showing up to worship, open to God’s promises and His ongoing invitation.