The SCBI started in 1958 with 111 churches and a budget of $122,000 with a purpose to “establish, strengthen and inspire the churches in missionary, educational and benevolent enterprises.” 65 years later, much has changed! Yet, our focus on our churches and the gospel of Christ remains.
We are in a moment where change is needed. A revisioning process had begun several years ago, and I wrote several articles about the changes to our vision and strategy. Now after seeing a full fiscal year and sixteen months of serving our churches in my role, the reality of our struggling financial situation has been clarified, and we are moving toward even greater alignment with our vision, strategy, and finances.
The bottom line: We are right-sizing our organization by adjusting our budget to congrue with CP giving. We will staff and outsource differently for a sustainable and effective ministry to our member churches.
I am giving an overview of this restructuring in this article.
- 2022 ended $182,000 below budget. With careful spending, we were still able to see a net profit of $6,000 for the year. However, we exhausted some designated funds from a property sale roughly 7 years ago, which left us in that positive situation. Otherwise, we would have seen a net loss for the year.
- A review of the last 11 years shows that the SCBI has only met or exceeded the budget 3 of those 11 years.
- The trendlines show that CP giving from our churches has declined over the past 11 years. In 2012, we received $2,530,133. While the years following fluctuated, in 2022, we received $2,173.859.
- The budget has reduced in those years, but not to the level of keeping up with our CP income.
- We are setting unrealistic budget line items, which cripples the plans of our staff to serve the churches the way they should.
- If nothing changes in our budget and our CP giving remains similar, we will have to start using money in reserves to cover our annual expenses.
Specific Problems if Nothing Changes:
- The SCBI will be out of money in 4-5 years
- Certain expenses will continually rise (insurance, professional fees, utilities, etc.)
- There is no financial room in our budget to support churches and associations with specific needs that might not fit into our budgeted items.
- SCBI staff will not get any raises over the coming years (as was true for 2023) nor will we be able to fairly compensate as cost of living increases.
Our challenge: reduce our budget by $182,000 to be in congruence with CP giving and restructure our staffing so we can still effectively serve our churches.
The New Plan
Our vision of connecting for Kingdom advancement guides how we staff and partner with churches.
- SCBI will no longer have a staff of “experts” but will be staffed with gifted, humble servant-leaders who can adjust as ministry needs require.
- We will continue to connect experienced leaders with churches who are trying to take a next-step in that area of experience (ie., utilizing an experienced children’s minister from one of our churches to help a church develop a child check-in policy and procedure).
- We have unleashed our Next Step Connectors (6 people), who are initiating conversations with pastors to invite them into the next-step process and pray for them. They separated the state into six regions.
- When wise and necessary, we will start leveraging partnerships with ministries that can serve our churches in particular ways (outsourcing vs. hiring staff)
We initiate a plan where in 5 years, we reduce our CP investment into HLBC by 1/3 (roughly $100K).
- This leads toward long-term stability for HLBC (since we’ll replace CP dollars with sustainable revenue) while also freeing up CP dollars for more ministry to our churches.
We creatively hire to meet ministry needs within financial limitations.
Prior to any of these plans developing, John Horn (Team Leader of Church Health) announced his retirement, effective March 30. I am so thankful for John’s work with SCBI churches. I really believe that he will never know the impact he’s had on pastors and churches.
Also prior to developing a new plan, Carol Houpt announced her resignation from our staff to take a new job. Carol has worked for the SCBI for nearly 20 years and has left a permanent mark on churches. She might not have been in the spotlight often, but her fingerprints are on so much of what the SCBI has done over the years.
Additionally, one other staff person we recently hired to a very small part-time role to oversee our database resigned because it was too challenging with her full-time job.
These unexpected staff changes gave us some financial flexibility to rightsize as we should, but further adjustments were still needed to put us in a financial position to have a staff that could minister well according to our vision of connecting for Kingdom advancement and our strategy of partnering with churches to discover and develop their next steps.
Painfully, since it was of the older paradigm of an “expert” role, the position of Women’s Leadership & Missions Director was eliminated. Allison Kinion has served faithfully in that role for 15 years, and her passion is evident in her creating the Transformed Retreat that many ladies around the state enjoy, her advocacy for missions, and her helping churches develop women’s ministries. Her last day with the SCBI is April 15, 2023, and I join the many who are thankful for her ministry.
None of these four positions can be rehired as they were. Instead, we will look for a staff person who can merge administrative adeptness with ministry skill and excellence to give us flexibility as we continue to adjust to the needs of our churches.
We restructure our staff teams & assignments.
- The Church Health team will be eliminated. The Leader Empowerment & Mobilization Team will be renamed “Church & Leader Mobilization.”
- We’re implementing a “keep & cut” process for the current church health and women’s ministries we provide. What is kept will be put under the oversight of the Church & Leader Mobilization Team (whether they directly provide it, bring in other leaders to serve in specific capacities, or outsource).
- Our commitment to church health and women’s ministry remains. However, we must shift the way we partner with our churches in those areas.
Finally, we’ll adjust our budget to reflect these changes. In all of this, I want to communicate how thankful I am for our churches. Always remember that the state convention is our churches, and together you fund ministry to help other churches be active in the Great Commission around our state and the world.
My commitment in leading our staff to support you is that we will continue to make organizational decisions with our focus on our churches and the gospel of Christ. We’ll keep our house in order and we’ll continue to see fruitful Kingdom work as our churches commit to cooperation!