Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An interesting article in the recent Atoday News

Adventist Church Relocates to Cut Operating Expenses, Focus on Ministry

June 30, 2007 was a defining moment for one of the largest progressive Adventist churches in North America - CrossWalk in Redlands, California (also the former home of pastor Samir Selmanovic who is now spearheading the Faith House Manhattan project in New York). In a sermon entitled “Difference Makers: Caleb-Finishing Well,” senior pastor Michael Knecht made the official announcement of a major life-change to his congregation: CrossWalk is relocating.

Crosswalk moved the first time because they outgrew their Azure Hills SDA church auditorium and became their own organization. This time, the decision isn’t about space. According to Knecht, Crosswalk’s annual operating/rental expense is $388,000 US (57% of their annual budget). In contrast, only $36,000 per year is spent on ministries for people, or what Knecht coins “producing fruit.” This is the budget especially dedicated to fulfilling the Crosswalk mission of “learning to love well,” which has translated over the years to a church with a passionate commitment to social justice, international involvement, urban mission and community development.

Toward the end of his sermon, Knecht said, “The numbers don’t make sense. We can do so much more in ministry and fruit production.....what if we increased the fruit production and cut down the fixed expenses?”

Knecht added that 98% of the people who come to Crosswalk only show up for 2 1/2 hours one morning per week (Sabbath service), while the rest of the week Crosswalk is a money pit. It will cost Crosswalk “only” $100,000 per year to rent space elsewhere for one morning per week instead of every day of the week at their current campus. If you do the math, they would save $324,000 per year. This is a no-brainer.

But the real inspiration for this cost-effective solution lies at the heart of why Crosswalk’s leadership team chose the move. What does a relocating church do with $324,000 in savings? Knecht committed that money toward fruit production - ministries like the Barnabus Fund to help the financially disadvantaged, Project Comfort, to provide Ethiopian children with clothing, medical care, and education plus many other unmentioned missional projects to serve the needy and marginalized.—Marcel Schwantes

I have often wondered why we do not build our churches as multipurpose building and why our smaller churches would rather build their own church then to rent a church from one of the many churches who hold their main worship on Sunday. When you see a statistic like the one above how 98% only show up to a church service there is really little reason to have a church just for that one day a couple of hours. I think many Adventists tend to see other Christians as the enemies and they don't want to cooperate in ways that would be helpful to all concerned. I would guess that we don't see church as a community, rather as an obligation that is met by attending a sermon once a week. But then with 98% only meeting together for a sermon once a week we must realize that we are not really creating a community.

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