There are a few realities I’m having to embrace this year. Even though Impact! Church has been in the hood for over a year, I have been reticent accept certain realities, terminology and labels. Through much prayer, spiritual attack and the work of our volunteers I’ve had to come to embrace some of these realities. One of those areas is finances.
We are a church mainly made up of the homeless. The term homeless is a little misleading itself. There are some that are homeless because they have lost jobs and just need a hand up. There are others that are homeless because they are mentally or physically challenged. In the state of Florida there are very few options for them. There is a third groups that makes up about 80% of the homeless population in our neighborhood and that is the addicted. Very few of them get better or want to get better. All three of these groups make up about 60-70% of our church attendance on any given Sunday.
The rest of our church is mainly blue-collar, hourly-wage workers barely scraping by financially themselves. They are hard workers and excellent volunteers. They are extremely faithful in their giving, but 10% tithe of very little is still very little. We do have one or two big donors that make up about 50% of our giving and budget. However, they are very sporadic in their contributions due to the way they are paid by their companies. Some times – by the time they give – we are already in financial crisis mode.It all seems to work out, but our knees are sore from praying.
So here is the financial reality – we have monthly fixed expenses of $5500, but only average around $700 in the offering plate each week. Yep, it doesn’t add up. In fact it doesn’t even pay the $2500 monthly rent on our building. We’ve cut things to the bare bones. No one takes a salary – we are all volunteers – and bi-vocational. The church does pay $600 a month for my health insurance so I can continue to see the heart specialists helping to keep me alive. Occasionally – when there is extra money after ministry expense – they pay my rent and utilities which is around $900 a month (my wife and I live in the hood also).
So if the fixed expenses are $5500 a month and we are only taking in around $2400 a month – how does Impact! Church make it? God – and you! Seriously! It never works out on paper and we spend A LOT OF TIME PRAYING. It’s always amazing when we look online and someone that reads my blog or Facebook page makes a contribution. Or someone that follows the Impact! Church on Facebook makes a contribution online. Sometimes it’s another church in America that gives monthly or quarterly. It’s $200 here and $3000 there and eventually we make the fixed expenses – and then some.
So the financial reality of a homeless church is that it can’t meet it’s bills from the people attending. The leadership is volunteer with little to no financial compensation. God financially blesses those outside the homeless church so they can bless the homeless church.
Over the past few months we’ve been getting more and more calls from church leaders and church planters about what it takes to reach the homeless as a primary target audience. It’s not pretty and we’ve been a little reluctant to share the realities of what it looks like – until now. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about other realities of a homeless church. I hope they are inspiring, but also cautionary. Leading and serving in a homeless church is not for the faint of heart. At the end of the day though, you will see God move in mighty and miraculous ways.