I remember it well; it was the type of Sunday we have come to expect at Sunridge. The service started with the worship team leading our church into a place of meaningful worship through music and songs. Pastor Britt presented a message that was practical, applicational, and allowed us to worship God through the truth of the Bible. Then it was time to worship with our tithes and offerings. As the ushers passed the baskets across each row, I sat in my seat ready to pass it to the person on my right when I noticed it was empty. Two emotions flowed through me; first there was panic because the basket was empty and our church is on a tight budget, but even more than that, I felt the awkwardness of passing an empty basket from person to person. I even noticed many were putting their bulletin in the basket just to avoid the discomfort of passing an empty basket. Obviously, creating an uncomfortable moment is not how we want to end our services. Our desire for this time was to allow people to joyfully worship God through their tithes and offerings. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Continue reading “Bobservation: Passing the Plate” »
As the Pastor of Business and Finance, one of my roles is the oversight of the Agape fund. For those not familiar with it, the Agape fund is a designated benevolence fund designed specifically to provide one-time financial aid to those in financial crisis. I recently had the opportunity to meet with someone (not from our church) who was in need of financial assistance. I won’t get into the details, but as with most Agape requests, I ask some very direct and personal questions about their finances – what are their expenses, what is their income or income potential, what is their debt situation. In this particular case, I also asked about their retirement plan since they looked to be about my age. I was met with a blank stare. The silence said everything! I realize that most of the people who come in for financial aid aren’t thinking about retirement; they are simply trying to get through a rough patch and the thought of retiring seems too far out of reach. But what about you; are you thinking about retirement?
Recently, my wife Diane and I started reading Chris Hogan’s book, Retire Inspired, and it really lit a fire under us. Like so many my age, I grew up with the false belief that when I reached the age of 65, I would retire and Social Security would take care of my financial needs. If that is your plan, here is a quick history lesson that may change your mind. The Social Security Act of 1935 is an outcome of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights. Social Security was a type of government safety net to provide some income at retirement. The Social Security Act established the retirement age at 65 when life expectancy in 1935 was 60. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), life expectancy today is 84 for men and 86 for women. Furthermore, the SSA shows the average retirement benefit is $1,369 a month, not nearly enough for most retirees. That’s why in1974, President Kennedy enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that set minimum standards for pension and health plans in private industry. Thus, the 401(k) and other tax preferred savings were born with the understanding that the responsibility of planning, sacrifice, and diligence is placed on the individual instead of the government. In other words, the government acknowledges that Social Security alone will not be enough; it is up to you to plan for your retirement.
Throughout his book, Chris Hogan dispels the myth that we can retire at age 65 by repeating the mantra that “retirement is not an age, it’s a financial number.” Some people cannot afford to retire at 65 because they don’t have enough money, while others may be able to retire much earlier. If reading this post is making you a bit anxious wondering what your number is and what it will take to get you there, you can calculate your R:IQ (Retirement IQ) number for free by clicking on this link. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” This simply means that the sooner you get started saving for retirement, the sooner you’ll hit your retirement number. However, I must caution you as one who adheres to the Dave Ramsey baby steps, do not get ahead of yourself. If you do not have a $1,000 emergency fund; if you still have non-mortgage debt; if you do not have 3-6 months of living expenses saved up in liquid cash; you are probably not ready for this step. If you are ready, here are a few high level tips:
- Never invest in something you do not understand
- Determine if an IRA or a Roth IRA is best for you. (Super simple definition: IRA is a pre-tax investment meaning you are not taxed on the money when it goes in, only when you take it out. Roth IRA is after-tax meaning you are taxed on the money before it is invested, but all growth is tax free.)
- Have a diversified portfolio, which is a fancy way to say spread your investments around to lower the risk. (FPU provides an excellent standard diversification mix.)
- Take advantage of tax-favored plans (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.…) whenever possible
- Never borrow against your retirement plan
I am passionate about handling money in a way that honors God and know that we all make better decisions when we have more information. My hope is that this high level overview inspires you to take action and start planning for your retirement regardless of your age because it’s never too late to start. If this post stirs up a desire in you to know more about how to handle money God’s way, be sure to check the Sunridge events page and watch for dates of the next session of Financial Peace University and enroll.
The month of March marks the half-way point of our 2017-18 fiscal year. We want to pause and acknowledge all of the amazing ways God is working in and through Sunridge Church. On March 28, our lead pastor, Britt Sipe, sent the following email to share just a slice of what we see and hear.
I am so thrilled to be writing you today about how your consistent giving to Sunridge Community Church is making a real difference in our Valley. It’s your faithful generosity that resources us to be a church that is helping people find and follow Jesus. You probably can’t see the day-to-day impact like I can, but here are just a few ways God has been showing up for us recently:
- We just baptized ten people from all walks of life: Adults and kids, new Christians, and a few finally getting around to it! Those changed lives were the direct result of the personal ministry by our staff and our volunteers. What a great team we have!
- A couple of weeks ago, during the last song before the service close, a young adult walked all the way from the back of the auditorium to the front row, got right in front of me and said, “You don’t know me and I don’t normally go to church, but it seemed like you were talking right to me in your message. I’m so glad I came to this church today.” That person is now serving as one of our stage hands, is a part of 18-24, and always smiling!
- Two hundred and seventy-five people participated in a Rooted group! One of our participants received Christ during our services and jumped right into a group just a few weeks after! Our Rooted group leaders have been so dedicated to providing this small group discipleship experience. You guys are awesome! We are so grateful to have Heather Fretz on our staff and the servant leadership she’s giving to Sunridge.
- In January, we welcomed our new high school pastor, Joseph “Mojo” Lee. Our students and leaders have been so welcoming to Mojo, and if you’re a parent of a high schooler, you know how boundless Mojo’s love and energy is for them. By adding Mojo to our team, we were able to move Jed into an executive leadership role, developing our staff, and providing pastoral leadership to our worship team.
- Almost one hundred and fifty women just returned from their annual mountain retreat. Pam has an amazing team of dedicated volunteer leaders who give so much time serving the women of Sunridge and assuring that they are thriving in their relationship with God and are well cared for.
- In the last two months, we’ve held three memorial services on our campus; two were for dear and faithful men at our church. The most recent was for a young family in our community who tragically lost their high school son. Over eight hundred attended that memorial. Two years ago, we envisioned Sunridge being a church for the community by having a “memorial team” of volunteers who will serve these families in crisis. We have one of the few campuses in the Valley that can accommodate these services, and we have a team of people with hearts of compassion. When Sunridge shows love like this, we are most like Jesus! Thank you, memorial team, and Gigi and Bob who coordinate!
- We are up to $95,000 in our renovate fund, with pending plans to repurpose and refresh our main hallway as our next project. There was a time we didn’t have that much in our whole checking account! Many of you continue to give to our Capital Improvement Fund (CIF) in addition to your regular offering. We are getting closer and closer to our estimated $130,000 to fund the renovation.
These are just a few of the stories I know about. I know many of you are touching people daily in addition to your financial support. Your consistency has been one the keys this year in our capacity to advance as a church. If you’d like to check your giving in this first quarter of 2018, just click on this link. Thank you for supporting what God is doing through Sunridge Community Church. I am so honored to be serving Our Lord alongside you.
We truly couldn’t do it without you!
When the 2017-18 fiscal year budget was crafted, it was known that just as operating a business, certain key performance indicators (KPI’s) would need to be identified and measured to monitor our progress and allow us to make wise decisions on spending and moving forward. Since we are at the half-way mark of this fiscal year, it is the perfect time to share a snapshot of two KPI’s.
12 Month Analysis
March 2017 – February 2018
CONSISTENCY GOAL: 25%
- There were 99 (18%) giving units that gave all 12 months. This is an increase from 89 (17%) from the August report.
GENEROSITY GOAL: $40.00
- The average weekly giving per person in this period is $40.22 ($38.21 without Renovate) as compared to $40.66 ($37.20) for FY 2016-17.
5 Month Analysis
October 2017 – February 2018
CONSISTENCY GOAL: 25%
- There were 160 (37%) giving units that gave all 5 months in this period.
GENEROSTIY GOAL: $40.00
- The average weekly giving per person in this period is $44.24 ($40.75 without Renovate)
While the 12-month snapshot reveals some minor progress made in these key areas measured, the 5-month snapshot provides a much better indicator of the healthy growth the church is experiencing. I believe that part of this healthy growth is related to the intentional focus to provide biblical teaching in areas of financial stewardship through multiple streams like Financial Peace University, Rooted, sermon messages, quarterly updates, and even the Bobservations. In the first half of this fiscal year we are seeing a positive, measurable shift in how the people of Sunridge are giving.
We are so thankful for your generous and consistent support of what God is doing through Sunridge!
My father-in-law is a self-proclaimed “scrollologist,” a term he coined for someone who is skilled in the art of scroll sawing; and there is no question about his skill. He first started selling his creations at a holiday craft fair at a church in Temecula. The name and location of the church isn’t important, but I can tell you that I distinctly remember walking into that facility and was shocked by what I saw. The carpet was worn and had duct tape to cover the rips. The walls were not just dingy, but had cobwebs and stains that had obviously been there for quite some time. And then there was that odd aroma. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I made a mental note that Sunridge would never fall into that state of disrepair. In fact, I recall sending an all-staff memo the following Monday making that declaration. Fast forward a few years, and my father-in-law is now a fixture at a different holiday craft fair at a church in Rancho Bernardo. Last year was my first time visiting this huge event, and I was in awe. This church was beautiful! They had clean, polished concrete floors, spotless walls, and amazing use of lighting and tech. I felt very welcomed – as if they were expecting me to come.
Sunridge started all of the Renovate projects to repair, refresh and repurpose areas of our facilities because we want anyone who visits or attends our church to know that we were hoping they would come and we are expecting them. Our current focus is on the hallway renovation because it’s the first impression upon entering our facility and we want it to be a good one. One that is functional and pleasant in appearance. A place where both guests and family can gather and feel welcome. Our designer has given us an estimate of $130-150K depending upon options to complete this project. We are so excited to let you know that our hallway renovation fund total is currently around $85,000, that is just $45,000 under our goal. Because we are committed to completing our projects free from debt, we ask that you prayerfully consider joining us by investing in this worthy initiative. You can give to Renovate by selecting the Capital Improvement Fund online by clicking here, through the PushPay app (simply text “pushpay” to 77977 and download the free app if you don’t already have it), or by check with a “Renovate” designation in the memo.
We are truly grateful for your faithful, consistent giving to what God is doing in and through Sunridge in this season. We take the oversight of the resources that God provides very seriously. If you’d like to see all of our completed Renovate projects, you can click here.
I’ve been a pastor for over a decade and have walked with many families through the loss of a loved one. Although each situation is different, there is one thing in common – it’s hard every time. Nothing can replace the immense loss felt in the lives of those left behind. Yet, hard as it is, life moves on. Sadly, in some cases the grief is amplified by the reality that the loss of income of a primary provider will further devastate the family at a time when they are already reeling. That’s why having the right amount of the right type of life insurance is so important. It may be one of the most loving things you can do for those you love.
Before I was married, no one was depending on me, at least financially, so I really didn’t need a great deal of life insurance. If I passed away I just needed enough to cover the burial costs. However, all that changed when I married Diane. We started a life together; we bought a house and had children and all of the responsibilities that come with being a young family. My need for life insurance became critical. If something were to happen to me, I wanted to make sure that the family was covered. Paying off the mortgage would be nice; raising kids is expensive so I wanted to cover that too. I didn’t want to compound the loss of their husband/father with the loss of their home and financial security.
The good news is that the older you get, the less life insurance you need. Why? Because as time goes by, your mortgage will be paid off (or close to it, right?); the kids schooling will be paid for; and of course, if you follow the baby steps from FPU (Financial Peace University), you are already debt free. You simply don’t have as much to cover. There are a lot of different types of life insurance policies out there. It gets complicated because agents are not usually looking out for your best interest; they are looking to make money. Honestly, Diane and I made a huge mistake early on in our marriage by purchasing the wrong type of insurance when we bought a “Whole Life” policy. We were young, inexperienced, and gullible believing we needed insurance our “whole life.” The bottom line was we paid into a very expensive policy that didn’t provide adequate coverage for almost 20 years. Ouch! Now that I’m a bit wiser from that journey, whenever I counsel with people, I only recommend “term-life” policies. I also recommend coverage of ten times your annual income. Term policies are usually very affordable, and you can pick the length (or term) of the policy. (You can get online quote comparisons from the Zander Insurance Group here.)
I’ve read that the last three months of your life is often the most expensive. Having life insurance will allow you to reimburse any medical bills that have incurred, and show love to your spouse and family by providing necessary provisions in your absence. In some cases, it may even allow you to leave an inheritance to your family. Those are all biblical concepts. That’s why I’m convinced that having the right amount of the right type of life insurance is honoring to God. What do you think?
I’m a planner – at least I like to think I am. However, if you would have asked my wife about 5 years ago on Christmas morning if I was a planner, she would have responded with an emphatic “no”. One of our Christmas traditions is to stuff each other’s Christmas stocking with fun and goofy items, then place it under the tree on Christmas morning. I always, well almost always, include a chocolate orange (the kind you whack on a table and the slices separate) as one of the items in her stocking. Somehow, in the busyness of Christmas, I totally forgot to get stocking gifts for her. Ooops. I truly felt awful that I let her down. She forgave me, but decided she needed to take a picture of this event to make sure I don’t ever forget. All that to say, sometimes we need a reminder – even for things we love doing. That’s why I thought I’d use this month’s Bobservation as a reminder of our Christmas offering opportunities.
Sunridge wants to fully fund the Deaf Ministry with an American Sign Language Interpreter every week during the 9:00 AM service to equip us to meet the needs of the Deaf Community.
Status – I’m thrilled to report that we are fully funded!
We are partnering with Community Mission of Hope here in Temecula, to run a Personal Care Drive. Our hope is to make 600 hygiene kits to distribute to local families in need this January.
Status – We are still shy of our goal. Please prayerfully consider helping this worthy cause by bringing in: full/family sized shampoo, bar soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, men’s and women’s deodorant.
We are inviting everyone to be a part of funding our hallway renovation. The improvements to our hallways will tell guests that we’re glad they’re here and that we were expecting them as well as improve basic functionality and flow as you enter the facility. The total cost for this project is approximately $150,000.
Status – Our hallway Renovate fund is currently at $70,000!
Also, the end of the of the year is rapidly approaching and for some this may be a good time to check your giving records to make sure you are on track with your goals.
I would like to say thank you for your generous, faithful and consistent financial investment in what God is doing in and through Sunridge Church. It’s has been an amazing year watching God use our church to realize our vision to bring hope, deepen faith and live love to this valley and beyond.
There’s just something about the anticipation of Christmas that puts a smile on my face. I love the music, the TV shows (I’m still partial to the Rankin-Bass stop-motion shows from my childhood), getting to use a blanket at night, and even shopping at Christmas time is a little less painful. And I love how the season reveals our generous hearts. This will be my 12th Christmas on staff at Sunridge, and there is no doubt in my mind that our church family has a very generous heart. On average, December makes up 12% of the total annual giving and I’m prayerful that we’ll exceed that number this Christmas season! When I think of all the worthy options out there “competing” for your donations at this time of year, knowing that you choose to give extra to Sunridge is very humbling and encouraging. I think a big part of the reason so many of you invest in what God is doing at Sunridge is because you believe in our mission of helping people find and follow Jesus. It’s being a part of something bigger than ourselves. I also think it’s because you get to see the fruit of your gift. God is doing some amazing things in and through this church! We are truly seeing Him working in this church to accomplish our vision to Deepen Faith – Bring Hope – Live Love.
It’s a long-held tradition at Sunridge to have a special Christmas offering in December. I’m excited that this year is no different, and we promise we’re going to keep it simple! Here’s our plan for the 2017 Christmas offering:
- We are partnering with Community Mission of Hope here in Temecula to run a Personal Care Drive throughout the month of December, “Because everyone deserves a fresh start to the New Year!” Community Mission of Hope services over 400 local families per month and gives out hygiene items quarterly. The people at CMOH are asked daily for hygiene products by their clients because they are so expensive. Our hope is that the donations that Sunridge collects will enable them to make 600 hygiene kits to distribute to local families in need this January.
- Items to bring in:
- Full/family-sized shampoo
- Bars of soap
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Men’s and women’s deodorant
Look for the designated bins in the church hallway to drop off your donations throughout the month of December.
- The first $3,000 of our December offering will go to our Sunridge Deaf Ministry to fund an American Sign Language Interpreter every week during the 9:00 AM service to meet the needs of the Deaf Community.
- We are inviting everyone to be a part of funding our hallway renovation. We want our campus to say that we were expecting you and we’re glad you’re here. The total cost for this project is $150,000 and that’s why we set a goal of $90,000 to the CIF (Capital Improvement Fund). Would you prayerfully consider giving above and beyond your regular giving to this important project? To do so, simply designate your gift to the CIF. If you want to know more about our Renovation plans and progress, please click here.
Thank you for your faithful generosity.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” ~Proverbs 11:24-25 ESV
I just watched a Saturday Night Live skit from 2006 with Steve Martin and Amy Pohler. It’s one of those fake advertisements for a book called “Don’t Buy Stuff You CANNOT Afford” (you can watch here). It shows this average couple talking about how overwhelmed they are by debt, and how taking out loans to pay their debt hasn’t helped… Then the spokesperson comes in to help this lost couple with his book. It’s comical how this average couple cannot grasp the concept of only buying things they can afford. But the sad truth is, many of us fall prey to this philosophy. We think if we can put money down and make the monthly payment we can “afford” it. But, if you add up the total amount of all these “affordable” monthly payments, you have a substantial amount of debt accumulated. According to a NerdWallet report (using Federal Reserve debt figures) average households have mortgage debt of $172,806, credit card debt of $16,061, auto loans $28,535, student loans of $49,042 and other types of debt for $132,529 Yikes! No wonder so many people feel hopeless, trapped, and enslaved like there is no way out! The bible tells us the “borrower is slave to the lender” ~Proverbs 22:7. So what do we do? Oddly enough the advice in the SNL skit was dead on – don’t buy things you cannot afford. But that’s just a starting point. You need a plan to take control of your money (this is known as a budget). You need an emergency fund to keep from going further into debt when something breaks – like your primary mode of transportation, a water heater, etc… You need a strategy to pay off the debt you’ve accumulated (start with your debt that has the smallest balance and work your way up using the “debt snowball”).
At Sunridge, our vision is to deepen faith, bring hope and live love. We offer Financial Peace University several times a year as a way to bring hope to those who are trapped by their financial situation. This 9-week class provides proven baby steps to put you on a path to get out of debt and move towards true financial peace. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” ~Matthew 6:24. If you are tired of feeling like a slave to your debt then change your financial future! It could be as simple as stop buying things you cannot afford!
The dictionary defines consistency as the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time. Based on this definition, do you think that is a good description of your giving? About six months ago I ran a report and found that only 13% of the people who gave to Sunridge gave each month in that 12-month reporting period. There are probably many reasons why this number is low – I just started attending Sunridge and haven’t been here for 12 months yet, I was laid off for a few months, I’m just so far in debt that I cannot afford to give. Consistency in giving can be hard; after all, it is a spiritual discipline. Hebrews 12:11 tells us that, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
As God continues to work in and through Sunridge church to accomplish our vision of Helping People Find and Follow Jesus, consistency in giving is going to be a big part of realizing our full potential as a church. So much so that we’ve set a “consistency goal” for this year for our church to increase the percentage of monthly giving from 13% to 25%. How can we get there? First, can you check your giving for this year to see if you’ve missed a month or are behind? Our fiscal year ends in September, and we’d love to finish the fiscal year in a strong position. Second, I’d like to offer you a practical “training” tool to help build spiritual discipline and experience the peaceful fruit of righteousness – PushPay. Yes, giving via the app or the website and setting up a recurring gift really does build spiritual discipline and build consistency in your giving. I think you’ll be amazed at what happens when you make giving a priority.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” ~Malachi 3:10
Even though I’ve been on staff since June of 2006, I can honestly say that this season of growth at Sunridge is the most exciting that I’ve been a part of! It’s incredible watching our vision to deepen faith, bring hope and live love come alive in such practical ways. Like how God is using our Sunday services and the multitude of different studies we offer to deepen our faith. To know that we are bringing hope through such incredible ministries as our free church counseling, Divorce Care, Grief Share, and my personal favorite – Financial Peace University. Did you know that this year, The Week (the Sunridge version of Vacation Bible School) is designed to allow children with special needs to join in and be a part of this amazing week? That’s just one of the many ways we are living love. We want you to know that your regular, consistent offerings to Sunridge are supporting these and many other efforts of our church to engage our vision!
If you have recently decided to call Sunridge your home, we are thrilled to have you partner with us in all that God is doing in and through our church. One of the ways to do that is through your financial support. You can give by texting “pushpay” to 77977 and download a free app; or you can donate through our website (click here); and of course, you can simply drop a check or cash donation in any of the give boxes located throughout the facility.