Many of you have reached out and asked how we are doing as a church financially and programmatically during this COVID-19 crisis. We wanted to provide an update for you here.
A New Era of Ministry: Faithful in Three Areas
Just six weeks ago, we announced that we were going to close our campuses for worship and move to exclusively online services—something we had never done before. We are grateful for our tech and staff team who have stepped up to make this possible. We encouraged and challenged you to be faithful in three areas: prayer, service to your neighbors, and generosity. You have risen to this challenge, and we are so grateful. Thank you!
We continue to see so many of you finding new and creative ways to serve your neighbors and to share the love of Christ with them—through small things like writing on sidewalks with chalk to larger acts of generosity and kindness to those in need.
As a staff, not only have we been streaming our weekend services, we’ve developed a whole new midweek ministry called “Wednesday Night Live,” and our Next Gen team has done a fantastic job of owning that service. Additionally, we launched a Friday Morning Prayer Hour. We’ve also developed a Crisis Care and Response Team and a Wellness Ministry Call Check-in Team. These are just a few of the things that we’re doing.
It’s challenging, but also exciting to see God leading us into new areas of ministry—not just for this crisis moment, but that will serve us well in the future once things begin to settle back to normal—whatever “normal” becomes.
Many of you have asked how we are doing as a church financially. Our fiscal year runs from September 1 through August 31. Because of your generosity, God’s provision, and some wise decisions by our ministry leaders regarding spending, we are over $500,000 ahead of budget in these first six months of our fiscal year. We praise God for that, and we thank all of you for your generosity. That positioned us well to weather the storm we find ourselves in currently.
We did see a significant downturn in giving to almost 30% during the first two weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. But in the last three weeks, giving has increased, and we find ourselves down less than 10% in terms of our average weekly giving so far. Again, thank you for your faithfulness and generosity!
What accounts for this increase? Prior to the COVID-19 crisis six weeks ago, 60% of our giving was online. Over the last four weeks, that percentage has increased. Now over 80% of our giving is online. That shift has helped us significantly! If you have not yet set up online giving, and if Chapelstreet Church is your home and you want to be faithful in giving, would you consider setting up online, recurring giving? It will make a big difference in how we lead now and in the future.
As we look forward, Abe Doncel, our Executive Director of Operations, and Fred Morris, our Financial Controller, and their respective teams are working diligently to lay out a number of different scenarios and financial contingency plans if this season were to last for one more month, three more months, or six more months. We don’t know, but we want to be prepared for whatever comes.
Reopening of Our Campuses
Some of you have asked when we might gather again in person and have services onsite. The truth is that we don’t know. We are closely monitoring local, state, and federal guidelines and timelines, and we want to make the wisest decisions that we can.
Another related question is, “When the time comes, how will we reopen?” This is an important question. We think it is going to be a staged or phased approach. We have set up a task force of our staff to research some of the best practices and look at our options. While we miss all of you and long to be together in person again, we also want to do this in a wise, thoughtful, prayerful, and safe way. So please pray with us and for us as we explore what that will look like in the weeks and months to come.
Future Plans: Shepherd’s Heart Expansion & Fourth Campus
Some of you might be wondering about the state of our future projects that we had planned before COVID-19, specifically as it regards Shepherd’s Heart and the Fourth Campus.
As many of you know, we had plans to expand the Shepherd’s Heart facility at our South Street Campus. Shepherd’s Heart has been and is increasingly a critical aspect of our ministry and impact in the community. For that reason, we think it is important for us to continue to expand. We are refining those plans for expansion on the lower level of our South Street Campus, and we plan to bring those plans to our church family for approval in the very near future.
As it relates to the Fourth Campus, while this might sound odd to say in a time when we can’t meet in person, we believe that the Church, now more than ever, is a crucial need in our community. The hope and help we bring to our neighbors is going to be increasingly important. For that reason, we continue to explore our plans for expansion at the North Aurora Campus. Our Executive Council and our Senior Leadership Team are working diligently behind the scenes, and we intend to bring those plans to our church family at our Annual Meeting in August.
We believe that God has called us not just to survive this crisis, but to thrive and be poised to make impact for His glory both now and into the future. So, thank you for your faithfulness in prayer, service, and generosity. You are making a difference. Thanks for being part of the Chapelstreet Church Family!