The Indiana e-Christian

News and information from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana

Mission focus puts New Light Christian Church back on track

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INDIANAPOLIS – Homeowners aren’t the only mortgage holders who have to make difficult choices when money is tight.  Congregational borrowers also find themselves challenged to make loan payments when income isn’t keeping up with expenses.  That was the case with New Light Christian Church, Indianapolis.  They had fallen behind in making payments on loans with Church Extension, and needed a plan to catch up.

For a number of years, New Light’s daycare ministry had operated with a balanced budget.  However, following flood damage in 2008 and declining enrollment due to the sluggish economy, the program became more difficult to fund. The church found itself paying daycare salaries with income from its other ministries, including the popular and solvent summer camp program. As they continued to juggle to meet expenses, loan payments were sometimes delayed and payments that were made were going to interest only.  

Churches who borrow from Church Extension of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have the advantage of working with a lender that understands the financial challenges – the business – of being church. To New Light’s credit, they recognized that advantage and took to heart Church Extension’s offer to help them develop a plan that allowed them to reduce their debt, catch up on payments and, most importantly, continue to live out the ministry their community needed most from them.

First and foremost, Church Extension consultants Maribeth Westerfield and Bill Bass helped New Light leadership address the critical question of priorities.  While they understood that the church wanted to continue every one of its ministries, Maribeth and Bill encouraged the congregation to focus on the ministries it could sustain and/or partner with to provide. They also encouraged the congregation to step up its stewardship and capital fundraising efforts. Finally, they helped the church establish a plan for regular payments that would get them back on track.

Working the plan, New Light closed its daycare center, deciding to focus its energy and resources primarily on ministries that serve older children and youth in their neighborhood. In addition to the summer camp, those ministries include a high school mentoring ministry (with a local McDonald’s as a partner) and a Friday night “A Place to Hang” activity center for older youth. 

With the center closure, they substantially reduced operating expenses. Any surplus from the summer camp ministry now is used for other purposes, as is part of the weekly offerings.  In addition, they organize quarterly concerts and a “Parents’ Night Out in the Hood” overnight childcare service as fundraisers for the building fund.  They’re also well on their way to the completion of a successful capital campaign.

The result?  Drumroll, please!  New Light Christian Church is back on a regular schedule of loan payments.  In fact, the church often makes payments more frequently than required in order to reduce debt more quickly.  Most importantly, their ministry focus and their willingness to be creative and sacrificial in funding these ministries has enabled New Light to make a true difference in the lives of the young people they feel called to serve in their community.

New Light Christian Church is one of several new congregations of the Christian Church in Indiana.  The Region has supported this congregation through financial support provided by the Pentecost offering, and by serving as a co-signer on their building loans.  Rev. Michael Scaife is the founding pastor.

*Reprinted with permission by Church Extension


Written by ccindiananews

December 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

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