When I called up Jackie Vance, Chief Financial Officer of Harbor Church in San Diego, to ask her about multi-site churches, I told her I was just a beginner on the subject. “Don’t worry,” she replied, “Most people don’t know much about church plants, including those planting them!”
But if anyone knows the ins and outs of multi-sites, it’s Jackie. Harbor Church has eight church plants, with one more coming this year.
If your church is in the beginning stages of church planting—or even if it is in your distant future—there is a lot to learn from those that have gone before us.
Jackie agreed to share from Harbor’s experience and contribute to several blog posts addressing various aspects of church planting. Today, she offers an inside scoop on the realities of multi-sites. I asked her, “What are some of the biggest challenges of church plants?”
Here are some of the hurdles that Jackie says church plants regularly face:
- Keeping the structure on pace with the growth. Harbor tries to keep the structure behind the growth to stay cost effective. “We don’t want to build structure too soon, so we try to keep it as fluid and simple as possible,” Jackie says.
- Holding congregational meetings is very challenging. (But worth the effort to stay united.)
- Making leadership decisions—the larger the leadership group, the more difficult it is to make decisions and maintain unity.
- Managing multiple budgets within one central entity.
- Collecting tithes from each site. (Harbor has a courier drive to each location to pick up the money and take it to a bank.)
- Reimbursing employees and volunteers. Because Harbor doesn’t use credit cards, reimbursements are a big part of their accounting process. Not having one central site makes this more challenging, though.
- Paying musicians and childcare workers is also difficult because of the various sites.
Want to hear more about any of these challenges? Leave a comment asking Jackie for more details on what interests you.
If your ministry is sending and supporting missionaries on the field, check out this upcoming webinar presented by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and Church Executive. 7 Key Issues to Properly Handle Missions Finances will cover topics like how to clearly communicate missions needs to givers, how to measure and fulfill the expectations of people who support missions, and how to handle the administrative responsibilities related to missions finances.
Presenters at this June 28, 2011 webinar include Dan Busby, ECFA president, Samantha Cave, McLean Bible Church global impact administrator, Pat Willow-Kulesza, Willow Creek Community Church’s director of international serving, and John Van Drunen, ECFA vice president.
Click here to register.
You’re going to speak to your congregation about money. What do you say and not say? Jamie Munson, lead pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, wrestles through this question and more in a recent XPastor article, How to Talk about Money in Church. “The ultimate goal is not to make budget, save for a new building, or employ staff,” Munson says. “We want our church to give because we want our church to worship Jesus. Therefore, the gospel must precede the ask. Preach the grace, goodness, and generosity of God in Jesus Christ, and then explain how the Bible instructs us to respond in part through giving.” He goes on to discuss “some of the most frequent questions and arguments about giving I’ve encountered as a pastor, along with how I might respond.”
What’s your experience? How do you talk about money with your congregation or donors?
Matt Weidler, an ECCUemployee, was awarded a $10,000 check for having a brilliant idea — accessing ATMs using a cell phone. Matt was announced the winner of the CO-OP THINK prize on May 17 at the annual THINK Conference in Anaheim, CA.
Read more about Matt’s winning idea by going to the CO-OP THINK website and clicking on 2011 Winner.
What do you think of Matt’s idea?
We talk a lot about the importance of maintaining adequate cash reserves here at ECCU, but every once in a while, we’re reminded that cash reserves is part of a larger kingdom picture.
A recent Credit Union Times article, “Tuscaloosa Church New Beneficiary of CU Drive,” highlighted a ministry that was able to assist their community “without any administrative overhead.” After helping nearly 40 families find new homes after an April 27 tornado, Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL was chosen to receive $50,000 in funds from nearby Corporate America Credit Union. So God provided financial resources for future ministry after the church had demonstrated a commitment to live out their mission.
Tell us about a time when God enabled your ministry to meet a need without the use of overhead.