As part of our steps forward, the Harvest 2020 team has spent many hours:
- Reviewing past business and personnel practices
- Talking with HBC staff
- Answering numerous questions by many in our congregation
- Reviewing the church’s current financials and budgets
- Assessing immediate ministry needs
- Identifying interim speakers for our weekend services
- Dealing with media inquiries
- Talking with outside experts in the areas of:
- Church governance
- Media relations
- Legal council
- And praying that God grant us wisdom and favor as we move forward in a Christ-honoring way.
These are our steps forward this week in the five areas we oversee:
- Financial Review: This week, one of our team’s volunteer advisors, Jon Vesely, agreed to lead a team of independent advisors to work with Plante Moran, a certified CPA firm, to conduct a thorough, comprehensive review of the past financial affairs of our church. The focus of this team will be to provide clarity surrounding the general concerns and questions our congregants have expressed. Because of Jon’s independence from Harvest, we believe he is the best person to lead this effort. The team of independent advisors will be a small group of people who have never had a relationship with Harvest, and they will assist him with the scope and management of this engagement. The Elder board will not be involved in any way.As our Harvest 2020 team is charged with reviewing all finances within the church, we have found that there was a lack of financial control and oversight as well as questionable spending practices made by the Senior Pastor’s office. In addition, we have identified there was a separate budget for the Senior Pastor’s office over which there was not sufficient controls and oversight. This review will certainly include, but not be limited to, the Senior Pastor’s office. We expect the results to provide information to guide new leadership in policy improvements and greater financial accountability. In addition to the financial review, the Harvest 2020 team has worked with staff to:
- Begin the process of opening a new bank account to ensure every dollar of your tithes go towards existing ministry expenses, banking obligations, and staff salaries. All tithes will be isolated and treated solely for these purposes. Tithes will not be used towards anything related to the Senior Pastor’s office or his past budgets.
- Create a plan to reduce our weekly operating expenses (not including mortgages) from $409,000 to $308,000*. If necessary, we will reduce our costs further to live within our means. *Correction: We had originally communicated $289,000 as the reduced weekly operating expense. The actual amount as of March 15, 2019, is $308,000.
- Begin creating a new purchasing/procurement department using best practices for all substantial church expenditures to control how money is spent.
2. Leadership: We have had conversations with three people regarding the Interim Executive Pastor (aka COO) position. We do not have an update this week regarding the search for an Interim Teaching Pastor. We plan to formalize the process for the search for those positions in the near term.
3. Operational Structure:
- Elder Board Structure: This week, we have reached out to several people with experience in elder board structure with churches of like mind and size. We have begun creating a process document that we will share in the near term. Please know this will take some time to complete, as it may likely include re-writing bylaws and policies.
- HBC Structure: Below are the members of the Interim Church Leadership Team, which have replaced the Executive Leadership Team (XLT) effective immediately:
- Talbott Behnken (HCA Superintendent)
- Greg Bradshaw (Campus Pastor, Crystal Lake)
- Tommy Creutz (Pastor of Student Ministries)
- Beth Freeman (Senior Ministry Director)
- Eddie Hoagland (Pastor of Worship)
- Todd Rukes (Director of Human Resources)
- Jeff Sharda (Chief Financial Officer)
4. Reconciliation: This past week, a counselor from Crossroads Resolutions, a third party ministry, met face to face with fifteen current leaders on the HBC staff to initiate them into the reconciliation process, help assess and identify themes within the HBC culture, and to provide care for them in light of recent church developments. Two additional meetings were completed inviting those who have been grieved by our church to participate in the reconciliation process.
5. Communication: We have added to our FAQ document. We realize social media can move faster than we can. We are a small group of people trying to be wise in our decisions and actions, and to that end, we have decided we are not going to try to “keep ahead” of what is online. We are going to trust the Lord and try to gain your trust through our work for our church. We are committed to providing you with frequent updates from our team.
Within the past 25 days we have seen:
- The termination of our founding senior pastor
- The decision by some of our staff to resign
- The uncertainty of some of our long-standing ministries like Walk in the Word
- A significant strain in our overall finances with tithes and offerings down 40%
- Decisions by some of the church members to leave our HBC family
- The resignation of our entire Elder board
- Continual negative media
- And the hurt and emotional pain of so many of you within our church family.
We know trust is earned over time, and we are working diligently to take actions and to communicate in ways that begin restoring trust. We hope all that we have shared above shows a step in that direction. We also face the reality of our expenses and declined giving. If you call Harvest your church home, if this is where God is calling you to be, yet you have stopped giving your tithes, we are asking you to seek the Lord about restarting your giving. Above all else though, we are trusting the Lord in all things.
This rebuilding of trust, unity, and health as a Christ-honoring church is hard. We cannot do it alone. We need your prayers and your willingness to embrace this new journey together.
– Harvest 2020