Town Hall Q&A: April 2019
Journey of Faith
We received about 180 RSVPs for the Town Hall Business Meeting. About 1/3 of those included questions which fell into a few specific categories. Pastor Jason’s answers are based on the broad overview of each topic and not responses to specific questions. We welcome continued conversation about these topics, and others, if you’re seeking clarity in any area.
Question: How is Torrance going? How are we doing with finding a permanent location? What are the plans for the next campus?
Torrance is going great! There is such a great attitude and excitement at Torrance. People who initially thought video would be a challenge, discovered right away that it isn’t. Volunteer involvement is really high – nearly half of our Torrance attenders are actively serving. We believe that the portable nature of the church is actually a strong reason why there’s so much ownership. Still, there’s room to grow in attendance. We are at 400-500 every week, but we believe that we have the missional potential to see 700-800 when Torrance is at full-force over the next few years. Not because we want more attendance, but because we know how many unchurched people are in Torrance. There are so many people in Torrance who left church years ago because it was weird, condemning, didn’t make sense or they got hurt, and many who have never been to church and don’t know what they are missing. You know those people in Torrance because they live right next to you and work with you. They haven’t heard of Journey of Faith yet or haven’t come. This is why we are asking you to invite them and they will love it. And we are working on how to make everything they experience great! About half of the people at Torrance have never been to our Manhattan Beach Campus. Torrance is Journey of Faith. It’s awesome!
Regarding a permanent home for Torrance, we have been researching locations in Torrance, starting within a 1.5 mile radius of Torrance High. We’re in discussions with property and building companies to find a location that fits our needs. We are working with someone from our church who is a real estate expert and helping explore options. Currently we are focusing on industrial options versus retail due to flexibility within the space and pricing. As you can imagine, price and available parking will be our biggest hurdles, but we’re confident God will provide the perfect solution. We hope to identify our new location by this fall and potentially move in by spring 2020. Alex Grahmann and our Executive Director of Operations, Sharon Peirce, are spearheading this work.
Regarding the next campus, Alex is not only our Torrance campus pastor, but also our multi-site expansion leader right now. We’re already thinking ahead about what areas of the South Bay would be the best fit for our third campus. We’re hoping that the sequence would be finding a permanent home for Torrance, then launch plans for campus #3 soon afterward.
Question: How are we doing as a church (weekly attendance, membership) and has this changed since we started GO BEYOND?
We are really excited to see how engaged people are at our two campuses! Our weekly attendance averages between 2500-2800 people at our campuses every week. About 2200 of that is MB and 400 of that is Torrance. We’ve been looking at attendance trends with our Executive Team and Elder Board, and we’ve found overall attendance has been surprisingly steady, but because people don’t attend church as regularly as they used to 10 or 20 years ago, we go through bigger swings of higher and lower attendance – that’s probably why we feel it more dramatically than in the past. The truth is, though, that even though it may feel lower on one particular week or another, we’ve had some of our highest numbers in the history of our church in the past year! (We don’t look at week-to-week attendance, but averages over seasons.) We really believe that some of the changes we’ve made recently to focus on reaching people far from God and helping people get connected to groups and serving will help us grow a lot in the next few years.
Two more thoughts on church attendance patterns: First, it’s pretty normal to have shifts of attendance within the first 3-5 years of a church with new vision. God moves on people hearts to come and go and people use times like this to make changes. Second, the regularity of church attendance is down nationally. What I mean by this is that people walking into a church building every week of the year for church services is down. Nationally, people attend 1-2 Sundays a month (last decade it was more like 2-3 Sundays a month). So while we might have 2000 every week, we probably have 3000-4000 that call Journey their home. Interestingly, we have detailed individual check-in records from our Kids Ministry, so we can see patterns in attendance by individual, rather than just blind attendance numbers. This helps us see that our impact is much bigger than just the single week attendance. For instance, at Torrance, we have 60 kids one week and 60 kids the next, but they are different kids, so we are actually reaching many more children – it can be 60-70% different kids between the two weeks. We can use that data to extrapolate similar trends in our adults. The good news is that our church engagement is up. We started LIVESTREAMING services online and people are watching services while they are away or catching up midweek. People are excited about what God is doing here, want to be connected, and want to invite their un-churched friends. This is very much reflected in our giving, which is UP during this season.
Question: How are people doing with their GO BEYOND commitments?
Regarding GO BEYOND, people are engaged with and excited about our focus on the GO BEYOND vision. Giving is up and very strong. We are right on track with our GO BEYOND vision and commitments. The larger goal of GO BEYOND was to help people catch a vision for a generous life that would cause people to want to continue giving even beyond this initiative so we can keep reaching outward and see more people find and follow Jesus.
Question: Where does our giving go?
We have moved away from designated giving and are budgeting for the ministries that are part of fulfilling our mission, so when you give, we make sure that each ministry receives what’s needed to fulfill the ministry planned. There’s one area here some of you might have a question about, it called CENTRAL. Central refers to ministry that serves both of our campuses (things like finance, facilities, human resources, information technology, etc.). Sometimes we have different budgets for each campus, but there are some ministries that serve both (eventually all) campuses. But the big thing to remember is that this GO BEYOND vision is not something in addition to our church budget, it is our budget. We are building vision and ministry based on this giving and we are praying it continues.
Question: How is staff morale?
We are being very intentional as a team about communication, being vulnerable with each other, talking through things, and building healthy teams. We have a shared set of staff values that guide this. We’ve created this funny little acrostic, PLOSHÉ (Put God First, Live with Integrity, Own the Mission, Simplify to Thrive, Honor One Another and Engage to Resolve) to help focus our hearts and minds on what is most important for a healthy staff in this season. Also, because churches like ours go through changes about every 5-7 years, and we all deal with change in different ways, we are going through a book called The Change Cycle. It’s helping our team look at how we deal with organization changes and how we can help others through the process of change as well. We feel like we’re doing good at working together! We also have some new staff members who are very excited to be a part of this church family. There can be excitement, but the unknown can also create anxiety. We’re encouraging each other to talk through the changes and bring questions to light.
Question: Are we still supporting Global Outreach?
Absolutely, our mission statement and our GO BEYOND vision is rooted in Jesus’ words to go into the world and share the Good News. Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about sharing the Good News in the world right outside our doors (with our neighbors). That’s because sometimes people find it easy to give money to reach a remote population, yet they aren’t sharing Christ with the lost person right next door. We’ve really been leaning into that. Also, we are working harder to partner with our existing missionaries and mission agencies to see how we can be most effective in the world. Sometimes churches come up with ideas about where to go (“let’s do a mission trip here!”), but our missionaries and mission agencies are on the ground doing the work, we are talking to them more. That’s also why we’ve been doing fewer trips. The goal is not more trips, the goal is effective, impactful trips that allow the most people to go and make the best impact. A great example of this is the work we’ve been doing in Mexicali and working with Feed My Starving Children. Also, Alicia Allen, our Outreach Director is joining each of the global trips this year to better understand the process, systems, and how we can be raising up leaders for future ministry.
Question: We have been talking a lot about Life Groups. What are the actual plans to get 3500 people connected in Life Groups and when can we expect practical changes?
We have been talking a lot about Life Groups and it’s a big part of our mission as a church! I’m excited to say there have been major changes happening. First, Eugene Lee our Director of Groups, has met with almost all 60 Life Groups to get a sense of what’s working, and what we need to grow in. Second, we have been actively recruiting and training current and new life group leaders by creating a new volunteer structure. This structure will ensure that every group leader will receive care, be poured into, and can create good communication in their groups and with new people. Our plan is to start 30 new life groups this Fall. My hope and prayer is that some of you would consider hosting or facilitating a group. We are planning a 3-week sermon series at the end of Summer about finding spiritual community in groups. This series will feed into a Fall Kick-Off series which we hope everyone will experience in groups. If you want to be a part of this, you can reach out to Eugene Lee.
Question: We have Elders, Pastors, an Executive Team and Deacons? What do they all do? How many Elders do we have? Do we still have Deacons? What do they do?
I think we have a great model of shared leadership. Let me walk you through what that looks like. First, we have our congregation – we who call Journey of Faith our church. Among the congregation we have a leadership team of Elders; 5-7 men selected from our congregation. They provide leadership guardrails for the ministry of the church. Imagine you’re a rancher and you have a flock. You need fences to protect the flock. The Elders oversee the ministry from those fences: our core beliefs, our bylaws, overseeing budgets from staff, and helping with the big picture vision (and shepherding and holding me accountable). And we’re continually working on how to do that best. Then we have the leadership of our Executive Team. This is 6-7 of us on staff. We oversee the ministry of the church within those fences. And we are there to empower and help the other staff and ministry leaders. From there we have the church staff (an amazing team of gifted women and men) whose job is to equip people for ministry). Then we have all of our ministry leaders, coaches, captains, and volunteers who do all the ministry with all their gifts and abilities! That’s how Journey of Faith leadership works big picture.
Now over the years, Deacons have had different roles and responsibilities at Journey of Faith. The Bible does not give a job description to Deacons, just a character description. And for the most part, our Deacons are people who already serve in multiple other roles (i.e., ushering, worship, kids and student ministry, visitation.) So, every 5-6 years, the roles of the Deacons change as the church changes. Sometimes we have a lot of Deacons based on the need like three years ago, then other times not as many. We have a lot of new people volunteering now, so we’ll probably have fewer Deacons for the next few years. I’ll be talking with the Deacons specifically about those changes on July 7.
Question: What’s coming up?
Here’s a quick calendar of big things upcoming:
- Gadgets Kids Camp (June 24-28)
- Parenting Class (July 10-31)
- Stuff the Bus (July 13)
- Hume Lake (August 4 – 10)
- Seaside Lagoon (August 18)
- Life Groups Launch
- Fall Kick-Off
- Sermon Series – The Good Life (September 8-October 6)
- Pop-Up Pantry (September 22, November 24)
- Christmas weekend experience at RBPAC (December 20-22)
If you have any questions about anything shared in this article, please feel free to reach out to Blair Farley.