Join me for this Fall for an 8-session, online course in the essentials of Christian doctrine.
What do Christians believe about God? Jesus Christ? The Bible? Human beings? Salvation? The future?
And what’s the significance of these core Christian beliefs?
Answers to these questions are the subject of “systematic theology” a summary of what the Bible says about and how Christian history speaks to these foundational topics.
If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to “go deeper” in your knowledge and understanding of faith, I’d like for you to partner with me and “Biblical Training” for an 8-session, online learning experience, A Guide to Christian Theology. Here’s how it will work:
Watch the online lectures by Dr. Gerry Breshears (Professor of Systematic Theology, Western Seminary) — Sign up for a free online account @ Biblical Training and use the free study guide to follow the lectures at your own pace, in your own time. [15 hours (total) w/ 40 video lectures]
Join me 2-times per month (Sep-Dec) in a one-hour, online webinar — I will quickly review the session topics, take your questions and comments, and facilitate a discussion within the group. The focus will be on sharing and applying what we’ve learned.
The schedule for 8-sessions are as follows:
- Introductory Session: Tuesday, 11. Sept @ 20:00 h
- Session 1 — God: Tuesday, 18. Sept @ 20:00 h
- Session 2 — God: Tuesday, 9. Oct @ 20:00 h
- Session 3 — Man: Tuesday, 16. Oct @ 20:00 h
- Session 4 — Jesus: Tuesday, 13. Nov @ 20:00 h
- Session 5 — Spirit: Tuesday, 20. Nov @ 20:00 h
- Session 6 — Sin: Tuesday, 27. Nov @ 20:00 h
- Session 7 — Church: Tuesday 11. Dec @ 20:00 h
- Session 8 — Future: Tuesday 18. Dec @ 20:00
Budget 2018 — Income, Expenses, Reserves
This past Sunday, IBC Berlin overwhelmingly approved our Budget 2018 after a lengthy discussion about a number of things including our income, expenses, and reserves. The following are some facts about our finances that will help clarify some of Sunday’s discussion:
Income and Expenses 2017 — Last year our undesignated income was about €157,000 while our expenses were about €184,000. That means we operated at a deficit and our bank reserves decreased almost €28,000 for the year.
Budget 2017 — Last year’s budget was about €194,000. If you compare all of the figures, you can see that we did not “overspend” our budget; we underspent our budget but overspent our income. From a tithes and offerings perspective, we did not support our budget with our giving to the tune of €37,000.
Reserves Policy — In 2015, the church approved a “reserves policy” that stated: “We will maintain a reserve of 3 months operating expenses in our church bank account.” (See IBCB Finance Policies Principles here). That means the threshold amount is determined by the church when we approve our budget. In October 2017, we began to approach the 3-month threshold and decided to take drastic measures to curb our expenses and to reevaluate our budget for 2018.
Budget 2018 — As we looked at our budget, we noted that the line items that have the most significant impact on our budget are personnel, church facility, and church office. When Jürgen Ferrary announced that he had taken another job and was leaving the staff at the end of February, our financial outlook changed dramatically. The financial result is that our working budget for 2018 was immediately reduced by €30,000 … that is, to €164,000, a figure that is realistic and achievable for both “income” and “expenses.” That’s the budget that we approved.
Tithes — Transition in our church has affected significantly our income. We’ve lost at least 10 strong financial supporters in the last two years. However, a lack of faithful tithing is the most significant factor in our limited income. On what basis do I draw this conclusion? Half of those who contributed to IBCB this last year — individual or family — gave €83 or less per month. Are we to assume that over 50% of our congregation has a maximum income of €830 per month? If everyone who considers IBCB their church home brought their tithe and presented it to the Lord, we would have plenty of resources to do what God has called us to do as a church.
Expenses Policy — According to our financial policies, no one is authorized to spend any monies if it has not been approved by the church. The budget authorizes expenditures that are approved by the treasurer. No one is permitted to spend more than is allocated in their budget without prior approval from the church. The budget determines the upper limit of our spending. Our treasurer serves as a comptroller to make sure that we do not overspend our budget.
Savings — Many participants in our church meeting were concerned about our church savings. By policy, we have decided that 3 months of operating expenses should be kept in reserve (see above). Whenever we have more income than expenses, it adds to our reserves. Whenever we have more expenses than income, it decreases our reserves. If the church wants to change that minimum threshold, we can certainly review that policy. For me personally, I suggest that we work to keep a reserve of 3 to 6 months reserves to be financially healthy.
As I said in our recent sermon series on generosity: giving is a matter of the heart. It’s time that each and everyone of us searched our hearts and determined to give ourselves anew to God and his purpose in and through our church.
If you have questions or comments regarding Sunday’s meeting, our Budget 2018, or anything I’ve written in this post, feel free to contact me.
“A lack of generosity refuses to acknowledge that your assets are not really yours, but God’s.”