Back to News
Church Growth and Stewardship Emphasized at RMC Executive Committee »
Reporting on the state of the church in the Rocky Mountain Conference, RMC administrators shared encouraging news that church membership has increased to more than 18,500, an increase of more than 500 new members over the previous year. Eric Nelson, VP for Administration and until recently, coordinator of evangelism, also reported that “Revelation Speaks Peace” evangelistic outreach in Denver concluded with more than 150 decisions for baptism.
“The conference would like to express appreciation for the Voice of Prophecy’s Shawn Boonstra and his team, for conducting the series from January 5 through February 3,” Nelson said. He added that, “pastors of the nearly 30 churches in the Denver area say that “more [baptisms] will come as follow-up with interested guests continues.”
Reviewing the statistics, Nelson reported nearly 2,000 Bible study interests within the Denver-metro area. More than 800 of them attended the meetings. In the early days of the outreach 60 percent guests and 40 percent members were present. More than 450 members from 30 churches volunteered to staff the meetings as greeters, ushers, registrars and other services for the guests. “They came nightly with smiles and infectious warmth to all who attended,” Nelson commented. Currently, there are nearly 200 individuals who have made decisions for baptism, and many of the churches have 400-600 names to follow up.
“There was also a revival among members seeing Christ transform their own lives and the guest’s lives as well as the Ellie Caulkins staff who could often be seen listening inside during the meeting time,” Nelson added.
The committee was informed that total tithe for 2017 was $16,347,828, which was a 1.77 percent increase over 2016 tithe. Base tithe, which excludes windfalls, was up .65 percent. George Crumley, VP for finance said, “It is important that we have a strong base tithe since it is off of that number that we budget the subsequent year.” He also stated that overall “we were pleased with the positive increases in both areas since 2016 had been a 53-Sabbath year and many times, the year that follows results in a negative tithe. With final adjustments to our 2017 Operating Financial Statement, we anticipate to show a bit of an operational increase.”
The 2018 Revised Budget was also presented. According to Crumley, “even though we were budgeting off of a slight increase in base tithe from 2017, it was not sufficient to provide enough of a base to balance our budget without some assistance from our Medical Reserve Fund. For 2018, RMC is relying on $159,628 from that fund.”
Crumley said that, “if indeed our performance during 2018 is better than budgeted, we will return part or all of those budgeted funds to our reserve. This is not something we would want to do on an ongoing basis, but it does allow us to preserve employment levels at this time without needing to make immediate adjustments.”
The committee was also informed that the Adventist Book Center closed the year with an unaudited decrease in operations of around $31,000. The RMC ABC has consistently shown an increase in operations for years. The ABC is facing numerous challenges due to changing market dynamics that have been evolving over the last number of years. The inventory and expenses have been managed carefully, but have been challenged on the revenue side, according to Crumley. “But moving forward, we will be looking at ways to strengthen the revenue side of operations.”
Referring to the most current data, Crumley said the RMC tithe report for January showed a 5.34 percent gain over last year. “This is a strong start to the new year,” he commented.
Newday Christian Seventh-day Church pastors, David Kennedy and Edwin Vargas, shared an update on the progress of the downtown Denver church plant, located in the diverse community of Five Points. Kennedy informed committee members of the official launch date of March 31, and noted that several guests from the community are attending their services. Benchmarks were voted to measure the church’s success over the next three years. These include targets for attendance, stewardship, and impact on the community.
The committee also discussed the current situation with the Student Literature Evangelism Program. The RMC constituency voted for the conference to fund the LE program, with the conference budget setting aside $150,000 annually for this purpose.
“The success of the current program has very much depended on the vision and experience of working with the youth under the leadership of Joe Martin. He has announced his retirement this year and the conference understands the importance of finding a new leader that will have the passion to develop and run a quality, spiritually led program which aims to be a blessing to the students as well as to the communities that are reached,” said Nelson. He informed the committee that the conference would continue with an update as the search progresses.
The Executive Committee voted to establish a Stewardship Committee. During the RMC constituency meeting in July, the conference was requested to establish a stewardship committee to be tasked with looking for ways of encouraging faithfulness in returning tithes and offerings.
The focus of the committee includes brainstorming ideas to motivate, educate, equip and inspire church members in their faithfulness to the Lord with their tithes and offerings; evaluating the flow of tithe; and functioning as a positive tool to educate and encourage our members in their stewardship journey. It was voted to adopt a plan for the nine-member committee to function for two years, meet no less than twice a year, and report to the Executive Committee.
Eric Nelson also reported that the Casper church welcomes Shawn Vincent as their new pastor beginning March 1. A pastoral position for the Cortez church is open, and Denver South is interviewing an associate in the near future.