Progress Report: An Opportunity And A Threat
Here's the short version, in case it get's buried in all the fun below: we have both an amazing opportunity and a serious threat.
First, the OPPORTUNITY: A New Site in September (God willing)
Yup, you read that right. We believe we have the leaders for it, the mentality (open hands and radical hope), and the structure. Plus, we think this pleases the Lord and is best for the grand mission in Victoria to see Jesus Christ revealed in common life. There are a lot of threats that would prevent this from happening, but...
Our biggest THREAT: Finances (currently ~15K down for December)
It's strange to feel so optimistic about our mission here moving forward while feeling so much stress over money. We are down. We need help. This is the usual course for December throughout our history, and God has always worked it out (through people like you!), but these sorts of times are definitely 'faith stretchers'.
We will need more investment for a new site longterm, but in the short term we are looking to make it through December. If you can help out, we would LOVE IT. If you're Canadian, the easiest way to do it is by clicking the huge obvious orange button below.
If you're US, or if that orange button is giving you problems, there are donation options on this page.
One of my young sons wrestles with anxiety, and while we were driving the other day I was helping him process a challenging situation he was about to face. He said, "I'm scared." I said, "there's nothing to be scared of." He said, incredulously, "there's a thousand things to be scared of!" He's right, of course. More than a thousand. Since I was going to be right next to him during this challenging situation, I said, "I am stronger than your fears." He wasn't so sure.
Here I sit thinking about the month of December and the deficit we need to clear; here I sit musing about our risky vision of launching a new Table site in September; here I sit with my own hidden, inarticulate, primal anxieties about my own capacity and competence, about my worth and suitability: "there's a thousand things to be scared of!"
In response, the voice of our Father, matter-of-fact: "I am stronger than your fears."
I'm not sure trusting God ever gets that much easier. Sometimes it's a memory problem -- it's certainly true that we're forgetful of all the times the LORD has come through. It's also something larger. If you're a power lifter does it ever get easier or do you just keep adding more weight?
Yet, "I am stronger than your fears."
So here are the facts. First, we have a deficit that we need to cover by the end of the month. Since the start, every December we've had a deficit, and often very large. It's catchup from meagre summer giving. Thanks to God's great kindness, it has always been covered. Right now we're looking at 20K+ deficit. That's a big, pesky, real fear. "I AM stronger than your fears."
Second, we're aiming to launch a new site in September. There will be Table North and Table South. We're too big to preserve the community feel we think is essential for Gospel potency in this culture, so we are "Growing Small." This will help us focus more locally on our neighbourhoods so that we may see Jesus Christ revealed in common life. But it's change; there will be two sites. It will be different. There are a lot of questions to be answered, kinks to be worked out, people and resources the LORD needs to deliver. This calls for peak measures of desperate hope and open hands. There's the risk that we ruin everything and fail miserably, though I suppose that's a constant risk. "I am stronger than your fears."
If you want to live a bipolar life I commend to you church planting. Great hope, massive fears, electrical expectation, financial instability, unexpected income, radical transformations, what feels like slow progress, etc..., and so on.
In order to counter anxiety, it's helpful to look at what the LORD has done in the past, since He's definitely been at work. Since I like colors and numbers, I put together an at-a-glance snapshot to describe who we are and what's going on.
Things Are Happening: A Snapshot
This is incredible; there are over 45 kids, most of whom are under 6yo. There are also only 26 adults over 40yo. Pair these with our large 19-39yo population and it partly explains why internal giving is tricky: students, young professionals, and families with young kids do not have the income ability and stablility as those in the 40’s and beyond.
God is obviously at work here since the least likely people to be religious in Canada are BC-born residents of Canada between the ages of 18-35. This is the mission you have supported through prayer, giving, and participation over the last several years.
If you want the whole progress report with a bunch more stats, you can find it here.
WE NEED PRAYER!
Please remember: numbers lie. They only tell half the story. Our bishop told us that many Anglican clergy would be deeply envious of these numbers. "Yes, but would they also be envious of the perpetual geographical, financial, and spiritual insecurity that comes with these dominant ages and stages?" We love it; and can't stand it. It excites; it taxes.
Prayer Theme #1: Maturity
We need it: I'm 39. Andy is 38. We know some things, but really: what do we know? Just when we think we're starting to get a handle on things we enter into a new stage, or need to start planning for the next one. Sometimes it seems God is working faster than we can build.
Our community needs it: nearly everyone is either on their way to Jesus, or taking hold of the faith as they enter adulthood, or trying to earnestly grow as disciples of Jesus. Holy Spirit come!
Prayer Theme #2: Children And Faith
Forty six plus a couple more in the womb. Plus the kids on the periphery. And yes, almost all of them are 5yo or younger.
We need resources: we need more materials (using Godly Play to form our curriculum), more teachers, as well as a couple suitable aides for our children with special needs.
Prayer Theme #3: Finances
Twenty-three percent are kids, so they're not tithing. Of the adults, 83% are under forty and either (a) going to school, (b) just getting into their careers, (c) raising kids under 5yo, and/or (d) buying their first home in an inflated housing market. Plus, many of them are learning for the first time what it means to give sacrificially to their church.
We're reasonably happy with the progress of giving. We have grown 50% in two years and giving has increased by %100. And what people aren't giving in cash, they are giving in effort. Still, there is room for each of us to grow in sacrificial giving as well as a real need for external donors, especially as we move ahead to a new work.
Our community needs continuing financial support from outside to close the gap.
Prayer Theme #4: Wisdom
We think we've negotiated this next stage pretty well so far, but there are a lot of details that need to get sorted. Some of the more important issues are pacing, getting the right leaders in the right places, and doing this in a way that is replicable for the future. We definitely need to understand the gifts, the energy, and the life stage of the people in our care. Most of all, we want to use all that we have as a community to maximally glorify the LORD and reveal to the world the kindness of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Our community definitely needs more wisdom than we possess, so pray that God grants wisdom and overcomes our blindspots.
It Stinks To Be Alone: Thankfully, We Have You
Doing things solo sometimes leads to depression, loneliness, and insanity. Thankfully, we are a community that has been sent out, commissioned, and supported by a huge, diverse group of people. You have bandied around us through prayer and support and look at what's happened: God has used The Table to make Himself known to the people of Victoria. We thank God for you as partners in the Gospel, and thank you for your support and your friendship.
Here's praying and hoping that God more distinctly reveals the Christ of Scripture to you this Christmas; may He deliver your from all busy-ness and the distractions of the season to focus on the glory of the Incarnation; and may He grant you peace and joy as He assures you of His love.
With great affection in Christ,
Josh on behalf of Andy, both our families, and the whole community of The Table