In 2004, my family went on an epic summer vacation that has become a tradition that now happens every other year. It all started with a tent trailer pulled by our old Jeep trekking along the beautiful California coastline, camping along the way until we reach Crescent City. We have since ditched the tent trailer for the comfort of cabins, but the trip is basically the same. We place a high value on this bi-annual trip because it provides quality family time, opportunities to be outdoors, extended periods without electronic devices, the unmatched aroma of giant coastal redwoods mixed with salt air, a lot of laughter, a way to disconnect from the normal routine of life, a reason to see the most amazing coastline on the planet, and one more thing – Continue reading “Bobservation: Tips for Debt-Free Summer Vacation” »
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.