Due to the failing economy and a decline in attendance numbers, The Chapel in Akron, Ohio needed to make budget cuts. They had to trim $760,000 from their staff budget … which meant laying off people that they loved. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions–a document that was prepared and given to the Trustees (Elders) to prepare them for questions that would come their way.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the attendance change and why?
- From 2006 to 2011, our attendance has gone from 6,000 people in worship to 4,500 in worship. The actual size of our church family, if everyone came to church at the same time, would be almost 10,000 people. We also have 1,500 children and youth in our Sunday programs.
- In a leadership transition, it is common for attendance to change. People get used to one style of Senior Pastor. Also, some of our ministry programs needed to be honed—for example, our children’s ministry is reinvigorated and youth is coming along. College and Camp Carl are outstanding ministries.
Are people joining The Chapel?
- Yes. We have an excited group of people joining The Chapel at every new members’ class. You see many new faces in the halls and in the pews. One thing that we need to ask every member—please go the extra mile in making these new folks feel at home. Newcomers need lots of help finding their way around the campus. They need lots of communication to introduce them to our ministries and spiritual opportunities. They need hospitality from our members, inviting them to lunch and coffee, so that they can call The Chapel “home.”
What are the financial principles that you are operating by?
- We will spend what is donated. We won’t take out any loans to support our general fund, nor will we live on our savings for long. By good financial planning, we do have good savings for “rainy days.” Those savings give us a little time to make these readjustments.
How long have you known/been working on this?
- First of all, let’s thank everyone who is a regular donor to The Chapel. Per person giving is at a ten year high! Thank you so much!
- We saw last year that we had too many staff for the size of our congregation—and so we trimmed the kitchen staff and print shop. Those were hard to do, but it was a first step.
- This fall, we saw that our offerings might meet our expenses, and we watched it closely. Paul sent out a letter in December that talked about year-end giving. Then in January, we saw that we were significantly behind, about $180,000. By February, this had climbed to $244,000. Our Finance Committee thinks that by year-end we will be about $750,000 behind our expenses.
Are we going to stop doing vital ministry?
- We are not going to stop a core, gospel ministry of this church.
- Here is the challenge: we have a vibrant congregation of 4,500 people yet we are staffed for a congregation of 6,000 people in worship. What we need to do is restructure our staff so that our pastors can focus on the biblical mandate of Ephesians 4:10-11, of equipping the people of this church for ministry. We need to realign our support staff to work better and be more efficient.
- We want to emphasize the most important biblical mandates of worship, preaching and teaching, classes and small groups and missions.
- Some things the staff needs to stop doing. For example, if you have a mid-week class or small group, we are going to ask that you buy your own bagels and make your own coffee. We may not have as many non-church groups use our campus for a while. Group leaders will need to take more responsibility for their groups and managing details.
Are Missions or Camp Carl going to be affected?
- The Missions budget is determined by how much you give to it. It is pretty much walled off from this discussion. We want to expand our work in Akron and around the world, not reduce it.
- We do a special offering for Camp Carl in May. We want to continue to see tens of hundreds of kids come each summer, get to know Christ and discover how to be Christ-followers.
Did the merger with Valleyview cause this?
- No. Valleyview is carrying their own weight and has brought to us a wonderful congregation of 250 people. They are growing and excited as things move forward.
Did you look at everyone in the organization?
- Every position was examined, from the top on down. Every department leader was asked to look at his area for recommendations. Advice was sought from the Trustees, our Leadership Team, all Pastors and Directors and all staff. We have been talking and praying about this.
Did you look at all options?
- Because we are getting input from such a broad audience, we are getting all sorts of input. Everything is being examined. Some of the suggestions are terrific, some challenging, some pretty zany and “out of the box.” We appreciate every bit of input and will think through it.