Finance Update
November 2, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

Financial Challenge

Hopefully, you’ve already received and read the devotional “Part 1” of Deep Thoughts this week, but the Finance Team, Rusty, and me also need to do our diligence to update you on where we sit financially headed towards the end of the year.

Up front, I will tell you that it will be a challenge to end the year in the black, but I will also proclaim two scriptures that highlight our relationship with God, church, money, and ourselves. I would encourage you to read both and meditate on how God is speaking to you through them.

  1. “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” – Matthew 19:26
  1. “My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

As of the composition of this e-mail, we’ve estimated a need of $429,692.92 if we are to meet all of our estimated financial obligations for 2022. As I mentioned before, this is a big number, but not undoable. We came together as a community to meet a similar numerical challenge last year. The Trustees, Finance Team, and Staff-Parish Relations have all done hard but necessary work to trim their budgets, and I give our staff and lay leadership a lot of credit for our quality of ministry not diminishing even with those cuts.

Why So Much?

The deficit we face is largely due to similar conundrums that most churches are facing, primarily, people who once were very regular in their worship attendance and giving have yet to resume the same regularity of these habits post-COVID. In addition, the church has not been immune to the political tensions that seem to have exacerbated over the last few years, along with real and imagined worries about the United Methodist Church by people on both sides, despite no doctrinal changes. Despite these challenges, we have pushed forward faithfully to focus on the saving and uniting grace of Jesus Christ, the generosity we should extend to each other and our community, caring beyond our walls, and our calling to develop spiritually mature children and youth.

What is interesting to me is that even with the noticeable decline in average worship attendance between 2019 (445) and 2022 (230) and the deficit we need to cover, you’d think everything was going terribly – but that is HARDLY the case! If you saw Trunk or Treat this past Sunday there was electric energy, with so many creative trunks and an estimated 800-1000 people present from 4-6pm.


I asked a newer family if they would give me some words to share how they feel about Creekwood and why they give generously, and they shared this:

“With His faithfulness, God led us to Creekwood through a special event and we’ve attended ever since! In Creekwood we have found the genuine grace and love of Christ, giving Him all the glory. The world today is tough and we have observed many people “desensitizing” just to get through each day. In our hearts, we know that is not what Jesus wants and our family is grateful to have a new church home that does not embrace the desensitizing, but rather brings all the feels of joy, peace, and support while guiding and equipping us with God’s Word and truth. We love the warmth and energy of everyone at Creekwood and the way it is extended to the local community, blessing them with the same joy, peace, support, and love of Jesus. The blessings the Lord has given our family become so much more when we can use them to bless others. Creekwood does a wonderful job of helping us share those blessings in impactful ways within the church and throughout the community in the name of Jesus Christ.

-Michael, Kani, Reagan, and Gavin Wagner

What we have seen is that despite the hardships of the last 2 years, average worship attendance has gone from 165 in 2020 to 230 in 2022. Afternoon student ministry attendance is up from 8 to 28 since moving to Wednesday nights, with a nearly different group of 20-25 on Sunday morning.  From 2020 to 2022 more people are giving and the average amount per gift has increased year over year. We are on the right track but have some avoidable and unavoidable hiccups to recover from. One of the things I’m proud of in Creekwood’s history is that no matter how impossible something felt, the church always stayed focused on the mission of Christ. Here’s what founding member and Lay Leader Julie Stelly had to say about that:

“I am so proud of Creekwood UMC. I’m proud of how we began and grew our ministry in the gym, hallways, and cafeteria of Lovejoy Elementary. In those early years, our primary focus was on worship, small group bible study, fellowship, and growing membership. I’m so thankful that we didn’t stop there!  I am so proud of how we have matured into a community church that provides a pathway to grow our faith, and that nurtures powerful witnesses for Jesus!  There are so many reasons why I continue to support Creekwood with my tithes and gifts to special missions.  We are a connectional and inviting church.  We make a positive impact in our local community with social events like the Pumpkin Patch, Trunk or Treat, Live Nativity, and our spring Easter Egg Hunt festivities.  We also have powerful serving ministries such as Open Door and our partnership with Harper Elementary and ACO.  Globally, because we are a proud UMC, my financial gifts help build hospitals, seminaries, camps, and new churches.  My gifts also support UMCOR that responds stateside and internationally to provide much needed disaster relief.  I’ve witnessed the heart and character of our church since our beginning.  It is my honor to financially support our dynamic church.  We’ve persevered ups and downs but have held tight to our Wesleyan roots that call us to follow the living example of Jesus in the way that we are a church that loves God, loves and serves our neighbors, and loves ourselves!

What You Can Do

If you are already giving generously, thank you on behalf of everyone who has found Christ, eaten a donut, seen the Nativity story come to life, found friendships, and learned how to love through Creekwood United Methodist Church.  I would invite you to pray about a special end-of-year gift.  If you received a bonus, made money on a home sale, or by some miracle did well in the stock market, or otherwise, please consider the church when you are thinking of how to use those funds.

If you are currently not making giving a holy habit, I would invite you to begin with a special end-of-year gift and a plan for giving to become more regular in the future.  As I just mentioned, everything that makes this place welcoming, transforming, and mission-oriented depends upon your generosity, and the more of us that pitch in the more we can do for the Lord.

And lastly, I want to extend an attendance challenge for Advent.  Advent begins November 27 and goes through Christmas Eve.  It is a time when many begin to return to church before Christmas Eve anyways, so if you have been less consistent, you’ll fit right in.  I want us to see what is possible when we all make the effort and buy-in.  I want us to feel the energy and make the connections.  And more importantly, I want you to make giving thanks to God and centering around Christ THE most important thing, which takes buy-in, effort, and practice.  Let’s see what it’s like when we all come together for 4 straight weeks, and I promise you you’ll want to make it a more regular habit in the new year.  If you need to attend online, please make sure to sign in online so we can know you are there, but I strongly encourage you to come in person if you are able.

Thank you for your generosity of spirit, finances, and grace.  I love what is happening at Creekwood even through the obstacles and challenges.  It truly goes to show us that when we focus on Christ, with God anything is possible.


David Lessner

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