The Elders had a good meeting together on March 17. The first draft of our new bylaws are still under revision and taking longer than planned. The Elders were updated on the team’s progress. We hope to have a draft for congregational review and input this summer, subsequent to Elder review and approval of the first draft. The Executive Committee of the board continues to work directly with Pastor James in leading the Elder board and Senior Staff of the church. We are experiencing great congruence of purpose and mutual submission as the Lord gives direction for our church. Dr. Higbee continues to attend meetings and coach the board on healthy interaction and how to promote the expression and benefit of divergence of opinion in our meetings. His recent reviews of board functionality have been very encouraging.
Key Elements Covered in the March Meeting
- Elder, Paul Inserra, on behalf of our Finance Committee provided the Audit update to the board. Church giving is slightly ahead of projection and the weekly need for the church’s general fund will be raised, May 1, to $440,000 per week as per the 2015 budget and collection plan previously approved by the Elder board.
- We continue to operate in full conformity to all seven standards for financial management in accordance with our membership in the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability and are members in good standing.
- Our 2014 Audit by Capin Crouse was “clean” for the 11th consecutive year. This means that the firm hired to provide external objective verification of our church’s financial integrity and conformity to ‘best practices’ of non-profit financial management did not report a single incident of non-conformity in their review of our books. This review includes the method for setting staff compensation, the method of offering collection/counting, the procedures for non-vocational approval of all expenditures, procedures for integrity in expense reimbursement, etc. The Harvest Bible Chapel 2014 audit will be posted online in the next few days, which includes the finances of Harvest Christian Academy and Walk in the Word. A summary of 2014 ministry accomplishments, including the auditor’s letter, will be given out the final weekend in March and posted online.
- Audit Highlights: Among “22 of the largest churches in America” that Capin Crouse audits, notable statistics include that Harvest Bible Chapel has the highest annual giving per household. This is remarkable given the average ‘middle class’ nature of our congregation on the whole and should encourage the church family, as it did the Elder board. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Less encouraging is that our church’s mortgage is 2x the average among those same 22 churches, but again, we are thankful that our church’s overall equity position relative to debt is among the highest of those audited by their firm. The church’s mortgage is now under $50 million, with overall assets of $150 million. Our goal of debt-free by 2020 is still within reach, and the window of 2020-2023 worst-case, as detailed to the congregation in the fall of 2012, remains our priority. Read the HBC Ratio and Debt Letter here Read the HBC Comp Letter here
- As an addition to our final year of the 5G Campaign, our North Shore campus pledged 1.6 million in 2015, beyond their normal giving to the general fund, to purchase a permanent church home. A group of leaders within our church formed an LLC to purchase this permanent home for our North Shore Campus. The church will lease the building from the LLC for five years for a net – net amount only slightly above our current lease payment for a “Sunday morning only” facility in Winnetka. The building is located at 1731 Deerfield Road, Highland Park, IL 60035. Please rejoice with us in this exciting provision of a home for our North Shore Harvest family. The next facility acquisition priority is Aurora; please join us in prayer for that need.
Ministry and Other Updates
- Extensive efforts are underway to increase the frequency of Elder prayer times outside of Elder meetings, prayer times among Elder wives by campus, and all together. Prayer times for special situations and regularly after a weekend service are all being scheduled. The Elders want to lead the way in calling the church family again and again back to the priority of prayer.
- As Pastor James and the team head out on our “Risen for the Nations” missionary trip to 5 locations and 4 Harvest Bible Chapels around the world, we need to be covering the entire seven-member team in prayer. This will be a special focus of our Harvest NOW weekend March 28-29.
- Walk in the Word TV is doing well and the response is increasing, according to the agency that consults with the Walk in the Word team. As we began late last summer, we were getting about 1-200 responses per day from listeners. This month, responses per day peaked at over 900. Praise God – lives are being impacted and people are being ministered to. Our Harvest Bible Chapel in London, Ontario, reports baptizing a man this month who was saved by Christ while watching Walk in the Word TV. Only God knows the number of such testimonies from around the world, which we as a church are sharing in.
- Summer for the City is scheduled this summer for July 19-24. Since the Elder meeting, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, from Moody Church, and Dr. Paul Nyquist, the President of Moody Bible Institute, have agreed to preach one of the nights. Again, we are partnering with Christians in Chicago to resource city ministries during the difficult funding months of July and August. Pacific Garden Mission and Safe Families will be among the ministries supported. Plans are coming together for the messages to be broadcast live over WMBI.
God is powerfully and faithfully at work in our church. The Ten Commandments of Marriage and The Father’s Songwere immensely impactful for our people. As we turn our attention to the cause of Christ around the world in the new series Risen for the Nations: Getting on God’s Agenda, we do so in confidence that as we take care of what is on God’s heart, He will take care of the matters on our hearts.
Randy Williams, Executive Committee Chairman
Steve Huston, Elder Board Chairman
On behalf of the entire Elder board