“What does it matter if I give to the church?”
“Who am I really helping?”
“How many of my dollars go to ‘real’ ministry, anyway?”
We’re glad you asked! This year, as we think about our shared mission expenses for 2024, we thought we might come at this from a different direction than we normally do. There are a lot of ways to explain or categorize the ministries of our congregation, so we figured we’d use a way that we at First Baptist Lawrence talk about our church in particular, the Four W’s: Welcome, Worship, Work, and Wonder. This is one way to describe the various ways that we do ministry, and thus how we spend money as a church. If we use spending estimates from the last couple of years, a breakdown of a ballpark $415,000 budget looks like this (including our annual contribution to the mortgage):
OK, sorry, we are the Finance Team after all, so things like pie charts geek us out a little bit. But maybe charts aren’t your thing, and you’d rather see the same information in story form. How about this?
The last time she was in a church, years prior, she had felt rejected by God. Now, even just sitting in the parking lot, she had flashbacks to that trauma. But after years of loneliness and a perceived alienation from God, she steeled her nerve and walked in the door…and immediately knew that she was home.
There are a lot of elements to the welcome that we offer at First Baptist. Our Evangelism Ministry doesn’t have a huge budget for events and materials, because our welcome relies on church members, staff members, and even the building itself to be a welcoming place. We welcome those looking to become involved at our church, whether they walk into the building or sit down for coffee with a pastor. And we welcome community members: from exercise groups, to the community choir, to Scout Troops 60 and 6060. Besides our physical front door, our “virtual front door” is an important way that we welcome, from our website to social media to staff who keep them up to date. Some of the groups we welcome pay a portion of the cost for hosting them, but a large percentage of our welcoming presence is supported by generous folks like you!
He could feel the tingling down his spine as the organ began his favorite hymn. It didn’t matter how stressful life was that week, when he sat down in that third row, he could feel it all melt away. The songs. The choir. The quiet moments of prayer. The sermon that felt like the preacher was preaching just to him. He couldn’t imagine his life without this worshipping community.
Our worship ministry requires a significant commitment of resources. Three of our staff members take part exclusively in worship ministry. Much of our ministry staff members’ time and our physical building is devoted to worship. The Worship Ministry budget pays for sheet music, substitute staff costs, worship décor, and even the copyright fees that make it possible to livestream music during our worship. None if it happens without your generosity!
She sat on the front bench of the church, waiting for the doors to open on pantry day. The first time that she even considered showing up for a food pantry, she felt awash with shame. But here, she felt something different. The folks who welcomed her cheerfully shared recipes and cooking tips. They act like food is something that everyone needs, which isn’t something to be ashamed of. Now, she comes early to sit and talk to her friends, and even share a recipe or two.
The mission and ministry work of our church is again largely reliant upon volunteer support, which only costs time. However, a significant element of the ministry includes the staff support and physical building and parking lot where that work is done…it is hard to host a food pantry without a narthex or circle drive to serve it from or a room to store food in! Of course, much of our mission work happens outside of our doors, including the investment that we make in American Baptist Mission, which supports Central Seminary, Bethel Neighborhood Center, and several other local and regional missions. Because you give, we are able to give to others.
Home was often a scary place. Mom and dad weren’t always nice to each other, and his older brother was always gone. But when Grandma took him to church, his heart sang! He loved the stories about Jesus, the snacks (especially the extras that the teacher gave him when no one else was looking), singing songs, and playing on the playground. Church was safe. It was home.
Spiritual Formation helps our congregation engage in the ministry of wonder of God’s grace. A majority of our Associate Pastor’s time, and a large portion of our Senior Pastor’s, is connected to SF ministries, including Bible and book studies for youth, children and adults. These ministries rely upon administrative staff to publicize activities, building staff to keep rooms clean, and technology staff to call when our Zoom isn’t working in Sunday school! Plus, there are curriculum and games to be purchased, Zoom accounts and internet service to keep us connected, volunteer training and background check costs, Bibles for kids, a yard to run around in and an entire hallway of rooms to meet in. You make this ministry of wonder possible!
We could tell a hundred more stories like this about the ways that your generosity makes a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and our community! We should also say that we know that there is a small percentage of our ministry budget that goes to support and administrative costs, including smaller expenditures like copier leases, stamps, and bank fees, but also a commitment to responsible stewardship through the salary of our bookkeeper. You’ll find those on the pie chart, too, because we know that all of this is necessary to keep a church doing the work to which God has called us.
Why we need you!
Hopefully you have heard our message that all of this is valuable ministry, and none of it would be possible without your generosity! But there might be one more question that some of you are asking: “All this is well and good, but couldn’t I only give to the ministries that I like?” And the answer to that question is…“kind of.” There are definitely designated ministries that allow for you to give directly and specifically: funds for special projects for youth and children, mission projects or trips, special capital needs such as the organ renovation. In fact, in 2022, you all gave $132,626 to ministry funds like those. That’s some serious generosity!
But because you also gave generously to the annual church ministry needs, children and youth had staff to organize those projects, mission teams could publicize the good work they were doing, and those organ pipes have a climate-controlled building where they can stay in tune(!)…and be used for glorious worship. In other words, when you only give to a designated fund, you are only funding part of that ministry, but when you give to annual budget needs, too, you finish the work!
We get it. With daily talk on the news about inflation and recession, it can be hard to plan how much you are able to give in 2024. But if you can give us a good guess, that helps us develop a clearer plan for ministry, staffing, and debt reduction. Below is an online “pledge card” that you can fill out to help us with that planning. If you could please complete and submit it by November 30, that would be the most beneficial to the ministries that you support.
Meanwhile, if you end up giving a little less or a little more than your best guess, our bottom line will always be gratitude. Every month in our Finance Team meetings, we talk about how generous our congregation is. You have touched us with your giving, as well as so many others in our community and church. Thank you, for the ways that you change lives and accomplish the mission to which God has called us together.
First Baptist Church Finance Team:
Dava Cooper (Steward), Brenda Schenkel (Treasurer), Marylee Southard (Financial Secretary), Holly Grassy (Bookkeeper), Matthew Johnston (Moderator), Glenn Prescott, Ramon Schmidt
Thank you for taking the time to make your 2024 pledge!
2024 Stewardship Pledge Form
NOTE: The following form will submit your information to Breeze, our church management software (CMS). You can read Breeze’s security policy re: how they handle data HERE. Breeze will then forward the information to Holly Grassy, FBC’s bookkeeper.
Now that I’ve pledged, how do I give?
Again, thank you so much for your commitment and your generosity!
Here are three ways you can make your pledge payments:
1) Online at https://1330fbc.breezechms.com/give/online. Choose “Operating Fund” from the top drop-down menu. You may also a select a frequency option from the second drop-down menu if you’d like to automate your giving. Choose your form of payment from the third drop-down menu. (ACH is the option with the lowest fee, 1% + .25 per transaction. Credit card payments have a fee of 2.9% + .30 per transaction.)
2) By simply texting an amount to 785-333-5300.
3) By mailing a check made out to First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049.
Need help with setting up a Breeze account for recurring giving, or other giving-related questions? Contact FBC bookkeeper Holly Grassy.