Giving 2018 - Step In, Step Out

As we launch this year’s Giving Campaign, we invite you to Step In to this vision and Step Out in faith.

  • Step In to God’s vision for us here at Apostles.  Specifically, we want to Step In to community as family, evangelism, loving children, and a deeper life in the Spirit. For example, through LifeGroups we are taking Jesus’ call to live as family seriously. Alpha is attracting the hearts of the lost to the heart of God. Our new youth ministry and children’s ministry are vibrant and growing while our heart for the forgotten children is leading to exciting opportunities for the Gospel with foster care/adoption and at Love Elementary. And, we cannot do any of these things in a way that pleases the Father without the empowering and transforming presence of the Holy Spirit.  God is showing us where he wants us to go and inviting us to Step In to His vision.

  • Step Out in faith with our time, talent and treasure.  What God has done over the past five years is incredible. We believe He is just getting started. So how can you Step Out? Give in faith. Give generously. Give sacrificially. Give knowing that through your faith and obedience, you get to be a part of what only God can do. For some, it will be the first time you’ve stepped out with your giving. For others, God may ask you to increase your giving.

We are asking that everyone complete and place their card in the offering plate on or before Commitment Sunday Nov. 11th. As we respond in faith to God’s generosity to us, we know He will bless us and others through us.   Our prayer is that each of us would seek the Lord and ask him to help us personally and corporately Step In to this vision and Step Out into this mission by giving in faith. 

A Call to Fast and Pray

As we seek the Lord together and consider our commitment to God's vision for Apostles, we are asking every member of our community to pray and fast on each Tuesday for the next four weeks.  

Giving FAQ

Q1. Why should I give? 
Giving is about worship, relationship, and mission. God uses our giving to grow our faith and our impact for his kingdom, personally and collectively. It’s not just about keeping the lights on, it’s about what God wants to do in our hearts and in our city. That’s why Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In God’s economy, when we honor the Lord with our time, talent and treasure he actually blesses us.

Q2. Where do I start with giving?
Giving starts with trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Trust that God is good, that he will provide, that he loves you. Trust that his grace is sufficient. Trust that Christ is enough.   As you begin this process, spend some time meditating on Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart and open your mind to being captivated by him.  Helpful scriptures to pray through include Isaiah 61; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-23; and Hebrews 4:14-16.  You might fast (simply skip a meal one day a week and use the time to read scripture and pray) and allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart and grow your faith as you realize your dependence on him for everything in your life.   Then ask God how he would you have me Step Into your mission and Step Out in faith with my time, talent and treasure. 

Q4. Why is my commitment so important?
The majority of our funding (91%) comes from commitments which helps inform our budgeting process.  The remain 9% comes from the weekly offering. While our budget is developed in faith that the Lord will provide, our commitments help our community plan responsibly. 

Q4. How much should I give? 
Giving is less about a set percentage or discerning a biblical formula. It’s a matter of worship, relationship and mission. Think about how you spend money on people you love. You usually don’t start by asking how much do I have to spend. You ask how much can I spend.  Similarly, in our relationship with God, the question isn’t “how much do I have to give?,” it is “how can I live in such a way that I can give more?” Our giving is a joyful and loving response to God’s radical love and generosity in Jesus.

This was true of giving in the Old Testament. Tithing, which comes from the Hebrew word for 10%,  was the practice of God’s people before Jesus. Interestingly, this practice included multiple tithes and offerings (Levitical, Festival and Poor) which total more than 20% of a person’s income. In the New Testament, no specific percentages or amounts are stipulated. Instead, we encounter a community so transformed by Christ that they give joyfully, generously, and lovingly to meet the needs of others and for the sake of God’s mission.  

Practically speaking, if we all collectively give it makes a huge difference. Using different factors of AGI (which is the total income less deductions for things like 401k savings) and a fairly normal distribution (i.e. bell curve) of Apostles Giving Households, and assuming a 10% gift, Apostles could cover its budget while creating a small surplus to increase the impact on Apostles beyond its doors. That's an average gift of $20K with individual gifts ranging from $6K to $60K.  As we continue to grow numerically,  the burden on any one person is less, yet we are called as Apostles to maintain our role in God’s broader kingdom work while giving faithfully and generously of our time, talent and treasure.

For reference, the average Houstonian makes approximately $60K with some making less and some making more. That said, the average American gives away between 3-12% of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and the average charitable gift for all Americans is around 4-5%. While higher income givers account for a greater percentage of gifts, the lowest income bracket tends to give the highest percentage. As a rule of thumb, if you have never given you might set a goal of working towards giving 10% of your AGI. If you already give 10%, you can begin working to increase your giving percentage over time.

Giving Based on Income 

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Q5. How do we use God’s financial resources at Apostles?
Each December, the elected Leadership Committee at Apostles approves the budget for the following year.  The budget is set based on giving commitments from the prior year’s giving campaign and the budget consists of two parts – operating and non-operating.  The operating budget represents the ordinary everyday expenses for people and place. Our operating budget for 2018 is $650,000.  The non-operating budget includes principal and interest payments for our church property, outreach efforts and a contribution to the Diocese based on 10% of our operating budget.  For 2018, the non-operating budget totals $300,000. This means the operating budget is approximately two-thirds of the total 2018 budget of $950,000.  Or it is helpful to think of our budget this way — for every $100 in the operating budget, we presently spend $55 on salaries and administrative costs plus $9 for buildings and grounds and $5 on church ministry programs.  For every $100 in the non-operating budget, we spend $14 on interest and loan repayments, $3 for capital improvements, $7 for missional outreach efforts and give $7 to support Diocesan ministry.

Q6. How are we stewarding God’s resources?  
Heading toward the end of the year, our expenses are in line with our 2018 Budget and year-to-date collections are on pace to help us meet the budgeted amount of $950,000.  It is worth noting that we typically receive over 40% of gifts in the last three months of the year.  Ideally, from a cash flow perspective, we would like to have a more even distribution of gifts throughout the year.  

In 2018, we have had 55 households that have given money to Apostles with many of those also lending their time and talents to making Apostles what it is today.  With 55 households and an average of 3 people per household, Apostles has tripled in size from its humble beginnings.  It’s exciting to think about what the next five years might look like.

Q7. What is our goal?
In the next 5 years, we’d like to significantly increase our commitment to spending on ministry (LifeGroups, Children, Youth, Worship, Teaching and Discipleship etc.) and mission (evangelism through Alpha and local partnerships with places like Love Elementary, LifeHouse and Fostering Hope as well as developing global partnerships with missional organizations) while continuing to pay down the note for our 14th St. Property, which has appreciated significantly since the time of purchase. These goals are outlined in the chart below:

Q8. What will it take financially to reach our goal?
Practically speaking, if we all collectively give it makes a huge difference. Using different factors of AGI (which is the total income less deductions for things like 401k savings) and a fairly normal distribution (i.e. bell curve) of Apostles Giving Households, and assuming a 10% gift, Apostles could cover its budget while creating a small surplus to increase the impact on Apostles beyond its doors. That's an average gift of $20K with individual gifts ranging from $6K to $60K.  As we continue to grow numerically,  the burden on any one person is less, yet we are called as Apostles to maintain our role in God’s broader kingdom work while giving faithfully and generously of our time, talent and treasure. 

The charts below provide a sample giving distribution for our community as well as some handy calculations when giving based on income at various multiples.  These samples give you an idea of what it will take for us to grow into God’s mission in the years ahead.

Hypothetical Giving Distribution

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