(Please forgive the poor audio quality during Vince's speaking parts!)
SLIDE We want to take you all back to November 2016 The Church is meeting at Welles Park… it’s the end of the year and we’re about to head back here to the newly-renovated Davis (January 2017) It was one of those “take stock and reflect” moments. So we (V & K) are looking back and looking ahead… And we begin to think: in the three and a half years we’d been a church at that point, it felt like we’d built a foundation, and it felt like we were ready to start thinking about taking the step from start-up to sustainability. Becoming a community and organization that doesn’t just have an impact for a short period of time, but that is set up to have an impact for decades to come
SLIDE We asked ourselves: So what exactly would sustainability be, financially speaking? some math told us: $17,500/month in donations -- that would mean we’re fully operational and fully staffed every month For example, our church board has not yet been able to approve a full-time wages for us, the pastors… we’re currently paid for about ¾ of our time. SLIDE This led to a second Q: So how do we get to that $17,500 marker? The answer, we realized, is pretty simple: By growing Because BLV is a crowdfunded organization (our operating budget doesn’t come in as big lump sums of money - like grants or rich philanthropists) it’s lots of ppl pooling together to raise large amounts The reason this model can work for us is because there is a culture of generous investment here Over 50 donations are made a month to BLV, anywhere from $20 to $2,000… the average gift is $245 And a number of households make an effort to tithe (which is to give 10% of their income each month toward supporting BLV) So... the more people who call this place home, the more people there are participating in the culture of investment here, And that’s how our growing in “number of people” leads to us reaching that monthly donation goal of sustainability And, anyway, this is not just a math equation Our hearts are that we would love to grow in “number of people” Our whole mission here is about people -- being spiritually helpful to people in the model of Jesus - especially people who wouldn’t expect to find what they’re longing for in a church That’s why we started this church -- for actual people, who live in Chicago To be helpful to more people would be a gift! SLIDE But of course, this leads to a third Q: So how do we grow? The answer there is: a lot of different ways. But one thing is true about all those ways if we want to do them in any significant way: they take some upfront investment. In the business world, it is understood that any small business will inevitably hit plateaus that will require some form of investment to push over to next stages… The same sort of thing is true with a church or a community like ours It’s just that, instead of talking about growth in profit, we’re talking about growth in community, relationships, and people. SLIDE So we came up with the idea of a two-year plan that would ask our most passionate investors, the stakeholders here at this church, to help us raise some money above and beyond our general giving And this above and beyond money we’d put toward helping us grow our church in size and scope, To try to go from start-up to sustainability
SLIDE We remember talking about this at Starbucks on Foster by NPU And we happen to see a friend — who, for a living, does operations and fundraising for a non profit and church… she asks what we’re talking about , and we tell her: We’re thinking we need to ask for like $20,000 above and beyond, and we would spend that this way… because then we can make an impact with that and become all of this amazing stuff... And she listens really intently, and she’s like: guys that’s awesome and super inspiring what you’re talking about… Here’s the thing: you need to ask for like 10 times that much. Not 20,000… 200,000. You need to dream bigger. If you want to bridge the gap here and there, $20,000 might do it, but then you will have to ask for $20,000 above and beyond next year, and then a couple years after that, but if you really want to get to your goal of long term sustainability, where you guys are here for long haul. You need to think bigger.
SLIDE This charge from our friend felt invigorating and exciting -- Yes! Let’s dream bigger. We do think this community has a role to play in Jesus’ desire to bring deep, full life to all people here in our neck of the woods And, especially over the first year of this Two-Year Plan, we got more and more excited as the details became clear about the specific financial investments that would most help us grow if we had above and beyond money to dream with BUILD (1) Investing in Advertising BUILD (2) Investing in our Kids Program BUILD (3) Supplementing Pastoral Payroll (so our pastors don’t have to work full-time jobs outside of BLV and can be freed to do the important work of personally connecting people to community)
SLIDE BUT, at the same time as feeling excited, all of this has also felt extremely intimidating and vulnerable Because $200,000?! Really?! We know that this has meant asking people to make financial sacrifices in their own personal lives in order to participate in this -- this is above and beyond donations: on top of the general giving our that so many already generously invest here That’s uncomfortable to ask for -- also because, let’s be honest, churches don’t have the best track record in asking for and using money wisely
Here’s the amazing thing though… there have been passionate people up for making sacrifices… In the last year and a half... People have given their Tax Returns to BLV People have given their work-bonuses to BLV People have decided to give an extra portion of their tips during this two years to BLV People have gotten raises and decided to give all of that new money in their paycheck every two weeks to BLV And, most inspiringly, a number of people knew that, because of their financial situations there was no way they could ever give a large chunk of money, so instead they budgeted to eat out less or buy coffee less so they could give a small extra amount once/month for two years.
So here’s the update three quarters of the way through Our Next Big Step... SLIDE So far… we have over $100,000 committed by the end of this year We seriously were dreaming too small when we thought maybe we could ask people for $20,000 above and beyond. Our friend was right. And you all have shown us that! In fact, we just recently received our largest pledge yet -- an upcoming gift from one of our donors that will be at minimum $20,000 on its own!
And what has been particularly fun and rewarding is seeing the incredible impact that Our Next Big Step investments have already made. SLIDE First, as we mentioned, we’ve invested some money that’s already come in to the campaign on Advertising Website videos, a mailer, new Foster Ave bench signs, social media campaigns Resulting growth: summer to fall last year: up 40% (!) winter to spring this year: up 13% And, you may know an important part of our vision here is to be a spiritual space that can feel like home to people who, culturally, are not set up well to feel at home in a church (maybe because they didn’t grow up going to church, or in some cases perhaps because they’ve been hurt by a church) -- The best part about the growth that our advertising has led to is that it seems to be connecting us with more of those types of folks who we long to be a home for Our most recent surveying suggested that over 40% of the people you might interact with here on a Sunday are not culturally churchgoing Most churches in America are 8% (church demographic experts suggest) (Big up David Bell here) Then, we’ve invested some of the campaign’s income so far to supplement our pastoral payroll has allowed us to have exploding coffee-date calendars with all of the awesome new people connecting with BLV Numbers matter because, every number is an ACTUAL PERSON -- we are in the business of people and relationships here, so above all our pastors’ jobs are to get to know and invest in and learn from PEOPLE And I just want to take a minute and acknowledge something Vince has done this last year. Because of the time was freed for him to meet and connect with more and more people, he has been able to help people get connected into community here. And largely thanks to Vinces time and effort, this last term we actually had the highest percentage of people in this church connected to some sort of small group, men’s group women’s group, parent group, cohort, in short, the things that actually help us do life together. And all of that was made possible because of the churches ability to pay and free up more time for Vince create and put in place the structures that support community, and then meet with people to help connect them to those community making structures. That is a direct effect of the Next Big Step, and that is the kind of thing that helps us grow and move towards long term sustainability.
SLIDE We’ve also in invested some of the Our Next Big Step income so far to throw the 2017 and 2018 Brown Line Balls (at Begyle Brewery in 2017 and here at Carbon Arc just last March) These were not only successful fundraisers in and of themselves where we spent a little money to bring in a larger amount of money, but they were great parties for our community’s extended network of friends! (Big up Heather Fortier here) SLIDE Finally, we’ve invested some of the campaign income so far to expand our Sunday Kids Program To be able to receive better the influx of young families our church is attracting To make the space more fun and engaging with more materials and toys and resources To be able to attend trainings And to be able to staff part-time people who can help keep the wheels turning for this expanding program We also want to give some personal props along these lines this morning, but in this case want to do a little more than that too… (Invite up Melissa here) (thank, pray for her)
The results - this is what I’m most excited to say today in our update: SLIDE Recurring gifts to our general fund have grown by about $4,000/month so far this year! We are up to about $13,000/month To get to that sustainability marker, we have just $4,500/month more to go Our Next Big Step is working! We’ve invested money to try to grow this church in size and scope, with the hope that that would grow our general fund… and that has happened! We have grown (as Kyle mentioned), and our monthly donations have grown
So, to those here who have invested in this next big step over the last 18 months, we want to say thank you! (Pause to thank) You have already made a huge impact and we aren’t even finished yet.
SLIDE Now, we have six months left, which is why we’re putting this back on the church’s frontburner How close do you think we can get to that $200,000 dream that our friend suggested? Whatever else we can get to invest… we know what to invest it in We will do another Fall Marketing Campaign this year Our church Board will free up more hours for us, as Pastors, to care for and connect with people personally And we’ve got more plans for further expanding our growing Kids Program. As we’ve seen, those are investments that will lead to more growth So we would love for you to take the second half of this year to think and pray whether you’d like to join us in this final push to helping BLV take it’s next big step from start-up to sustainability… This is not necessarily for everyone And certainly NO ONE is a second-class citizen here if they can’t participate in this financially As you can probably tell from a lot we’ve shared, there are non-financial ways to invest in Our Next Big Step as well But if some of those examples of financial sacrifice we mentioned earlier that people have made in order to give -- if some of those are feeling inspiring to you, and if you’re feeling passionate about BLV, we would be honored if you gave to this campaign before the end of 2018. You can start a conversation with either one of us to talk more about that Or you can just give online, and note that your gift is for “Our Next Big Step”
SLIDE Alright, we’d love to pray for us -- this church in general, but also us as the individuals who make up this church... it is our personal stories that make up this bigger story… and that is one of the things about the God Jesus showed to humanity that grabs us most at BLV -- as small and insignificant as each of us may feel on our own, the God of the Universe takes a personal interest in us