2015 has brought about many changes at Graceway. We have taken a good look at how we are doing ministry, and have made improvements based on what we learned through the leadership retreat in July.
In 2011 Christians in America gave only 2.3% of their income to churches and 33-55% of members nationwide report that they gave nothing at all to their church. Graceway, like many nonprofits, is now feeling the effects of America’s recent fiscal difficulty and we have had to grapple with reality. In 2015 Graceway had an operations budget of $3.6 million (all numbers are approximated) and plans to reduce the 2016 operations budget by almost half a million down to 3.2 million. Cutting that much from an organization our size and the many ministries we represent is extremely difficult. We leaned into the issue with much prayer, consideration, and wise counsel.
Unfortunately due to budgetary shortfalls, we have had to make hard decisions regarding our staff. Through much difficulty we have found it necessary to lay off four people from our Graceway staff. Stephen Ray has been a part of our pastoral team for three years now. He has led our college ministry and spoken in our main worship service many times. At this point, Stephen plans to stay on as a lay pastor and continue preaching in the college ministry and will be speaking in main service in January. Janna Cox has been a part of our staff for eight years. She has worked in both our accounting department and in facilities. The other two employees affected desire to have their privacy at this time. We love and care for each of these individuals very much and we ask that you pray for the families affected by the lay offs.
God has provided for our church for 70 years now and we know that he will continue to do so. As we prepare for 2016, we have re-evaluated our budget and have made adjustments to be better stewards of God’s resources for this upcoming year. We have adjusted these budgets to better align with our vision and goals. We will continue to teach God’s word and focus on making disciples here and around the world while being good stewards of what He has given us. He will provide what we need and when we need it.
We understand that this news may come as a shock to many of you and you may have additional questions. We have tried to answer some of those below:
Are there more cuts expected?
At this time, no. We believe these adjustments should help us be properly aligned with our expected 2016 offerings and continue forward with the ministries of Graceway.
Is our financial info trending up or down right now?
Although the first part of 2015 presented a downward trend, the second half of the year appears to be leveling off with the occasional spike upward. While we are grateful for this encouraging sign, we still feel responsible to budget to what we currently have, not what we hope to have.
What other cuts have happened?
Over the past few years as we have had normal employee turnover we have made every effort to absorb those job functions with our existing staff to better align our budget with offering totals.
Will we make budget once these cuts happen?
As the 2016 budget was prepared, numbers were used from the average giving in 2015. Although no one can guarantee that our assumptions on future giving will be accurate, we are confident that these changes will put us is a position to make budget in 2016.
How are we taking care of our people who are getting let go?
We have provided a generous severance package to each employee and will continue to pray for God’s direction in their future endeavors.
What can we, the church body, do?
Pray for the families of those affected by the layoffs. If you are led by God, consider financially supporting Graceway through our general giving. Volunteer! Serving in a volunteer capacity allows the ministry of Graceway to continue without having to hire staff.
Why have we continued to support missionaries and overseas work when we are not making budget?
As a church we are deeply committed to missions, it’s a part of what makes Graceway – Graceway. These budgetary cuts and layoffs are about helping Graceway do a better job at managing our resources. Our mission and vision is unchanged.
What led to this economic shortfall?
National trends of church giving are down, this is not just a problem at Graceway. We have many new people coming to church here, but developing givers takes time and trust.
What are we doing to increase giving?
We have implemented new strategies to increase giving, but these take time. The new Push Pay allows giving to be more convenient and we are being more intentional about discussing what we are doing with the resources that God has provided.
What does this mean for the college class?
At this time, Stephen Ray plans to stay on as a lay pastor and teach the college class until further notice.