Q: Does HVCC operate by any financial principles?
A: Hidden Valley operates by several financial principles:
- We never pass an offering plate because we don’t want to pressure anyone to give. Instead, we have offering boxes in the back of the auditorium so that people who choose to give can freely do so.
- We don’t share individual giving information with anyone. It is confidential and never shared with anyone.
- We do not incur debt for operating expenses. If we had a significant decline in giving, we would cut our expenses to match our income.
- We have saved three months of church expenses in an emergency fund. This financial principle of building an emergency fund is something that is taught in the Bible and a class we offer called Financial Peace University. Since we teach this as an important financial principle for individuals, we also model it as a church.
- We only budget based on the previous year’s general fund giving. In other words, we don’t do “faith” budgets like many churches do. Even though we usually grow financially each year, we don’t budget based on “anticipated growth." This gives us a lot of freedom during the year to make budget adjustments as needs or opportunities come up.
Q: How are financial decisions made?
A: Our top board at HVCC is called our Leadership Team. Among other responsibilities, this team has oversight over the budget. Here’s how our budgeting process works:
- In October, the leadership team creates a preliminary next-year budget based on the principles above. At this meeting, they try to determine which of our expenses have gone up or down in the current year so we can make adjustments for next year’s budget.
- Staff is consulted to make sure their budget numbers are accurate.
- Next, this preliminary budget is reviewed.
- Then, we monitor expenses and income for the final two months of the year. Once we hit January, if nothing significant has changed, that budget becomes our operational budget.
- Once the budget is established, ministry leaders are authorized to spend what is in their budget. If an unbudgeted need or opportunity comes up, it is presented to the Leadership Team and they can authorize or decline it. For instance, in January 2014, the staff had the idea to take a risk and try a 10,000 egg Easter egg hunt at all our campuses. Since this was not budgeted, a proposal was written up and presented to the Leadership Team. After discussion, the staff was authorized to run this experiment. This event was very successful for all our campuses. Nearly 4,000 people came to the Easter egg events and many new people came to church the following day.
Q: Who are the Leadership Team members and what is their role?
A: These are biblically qualified elders (read Titus 1 and I Timothy 3) who have the following responsibilities:
- Provide spiritual oversight: Confronting false teaching, curriculum evaluation, writing position papers on controversial issues, etc.
- Conflict resolution among church members.
- Church management: Reviewing staff initiatives, overseeing the budgeting process, reviewing monthly reports, setting salaries, etc.
- Praying for those who are sick and in need.
Our current Leadership Team members are Phil DeKok, Kevin Campbell and Brian Blanchette.
Q: How does someone become a Leadership Team member?
A: We use the following process to nominate and evaluate our Leadership Team members:
- Once a year, we ask our church members to nominate potential Leadership Team members. Only church members are allowed to nominate people for the Leadership Team.
- Once nominated, if the nominated church member is in good standing, they are contacted and given a packet that outlines the responsibilities of the role.
- We ask the nominee to prayerfully seek God’s will about serving in this role. If they are interested, we begin a process that includes the following steps:
- We form a team of highly discerning church members who own the vision of HVCC and ask them to serve on an interview team. Since we have only one Leadership team for all campuses, members from each campus are invited to serve on this team. They receive training on how to conduct these interviews.
- The nominee is asked to fill out an extensive application.
- This team reviews the application and then we schedule interviews. In the past, we’ve had the teams focus on the following areas:
- Theological issues
- Family and personal issues
- Church related issues
- Once we’ve conducted all the interviews, this team deliberates until we arrive at a consensus of opinion. We either recommend them for the role or we redirect them to a role that fits their gifting.
Q: Will the other campuses have their own Leadership Teams some day?
A: We have been researching this question for years by talking to other multi-site churches that have used the separate Leadership Team model for each campus. Their experience indicated that the model is not effective and that there will be conflict over whose Leadership Team has final say. In one church, the conflict became so divisive, they made the decision to disband the individual campus Leadership Teams and go back to having one Leadership Team that served all the campuses.
To make sure that all campuses have input on the Leadership Team process, we are taking the following steps:
- Currently, we invite members from all campuses to serve on the interview team and help us review potential Leadership Team members.
- We are in the process of developing a system where we can have Leadership Team members from the other campuses serving on the one Leadership Team.
To make sure that our Campus Pastors receive additional support, we encourage them to form an advisory group called "Infusion" for the purpose of advice, brainstorming, input and encouragement.
Q: Where can I go to get information about the budget?
A: You can get a copy of our budget by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting one.
Q: If I have a financial question, who should I ask?
A: Please contact our Interim Financial Administrator Lori Bailey at email@example.com. If she cannot answer your question, she will direct you to the person who can.
Q: Would we go into debt for buildings?
A: The long-term debt we have for our Dodgeville property is inconsistent with the Biblical principles we teach in Financial Peace University. We incurred this debt before learning about FPU. Over the years we have experienced serious limitations debt has placed on our ability to invest in ministry. So we have resolved not to enter into another long-term mortgage for a building.
All Campus Pastors are informed that they will only be allowed to buy or build what they can pay off in three years. For instance, if a campus wanted to build a building, they would take the following steps:
- They would run a giving campaign and ask church members to pray about making a pledge above and beyond their normal giving for the next three years.
- The amount raised, in addition to any amount in a building fund, would be the only amount they could use for building. For example, if they raise $300,000 in cash and pledges, they could put up a building worth that amount. The same principles would apply if they wanted to purchase and renovate a building.
Q: How much does Dodgeville still owe on their mortgage?
A: The Dodgeville campus owes just over $600,000 on the mortgage. We pay $5000 a month.
Q: Do we have other financial goals?
A: Here are some of our top financial goals:
- Develop a plan to pay off our mortgage.
- Begin to save money for starting our next campus.
- Fully fund our depreciation fund.
- Provide retirement benefits for staff.
- Add a teaching pastor to the staff to alleviate some pressure from Pastor Brian.
Q: The Dodgeville campus did a giving campaign a few years ago to pay down the debt. What happened to that money?
A: We were able to make a $50,000 payment to the principal based on the generosity of those donors.
Q: If a big donation was given, who decides how it should be spent?
A: If it’s a designated gift to an established fund, it would be used for that purpose. If it’s an undesignated gift, the Leadership Team would make that decision in connection with the Campus Pastor.
Q: How are staff salaries determined?
A: The Leadership team of HVCC has final say over staff salaries. Staff salary information is never shared with anyone for two primary reasons:
- Salary information in most businesses is confidential. For instance, you can’t walk into any business and demand to know what each person is being paid.
- Salary information is subjective. We don’t want to invite debates that will distract us from pursuing our mission as a church.
Therefore, we avoid the controversy and allow the Leadership Team members to set staff salaries.
Q: How do we handle the budget for each campus?
A: We maintain a separate budget for each campus. The Campus Pastors are included in the budgeting process and have say over how they want unbudgeted funds to be directed. When money is given to a campus, the money stays with that campus. Once a campus is financially viable, they begin to pay a support fee to cover administrative expenses. A campus is considered viable when they can pay all their monthly bills and the full salary and benefits of their Campus Pastor.
Q: Why does a campus have to pay a support fee? What is the support fee used for?
A: This is a partial list:
- The following staff members have responsibilities for each campus and the fee pays for part of their salary: Sr. Pastor, Financial Administrator, Video Editor, Facility Director, and Administrative Assistant. As our church continues to grow, we anticipate hiring more staff whose responsibility is multi-site focused.
- It helps share the expense of purchasing HD cameras, video-editing computers, video editing software, software upgrades and other equipment used for the purpose of recording and editing messages that are used at each site.
- Computer and technical support is provided, as needed.
- Financial services, which include the payment of all bills, payroll, maintaining of giving records for tax receipts, maintaining of each venue’s budget and other financial support, as needed.
- The regular coaching and ongoing training of Campus Pastors.
- Human Resources assistance to help with the hiring and training of staff as needed.
- New staff member assimilation.
- Bills related to multi-site ministry.
Q: Will we ever have online giving options?
A: We have them now. Just go to hiddenv.com/give-online
Q: How much does HVCC – Richland Center have saved for a building?
A: As of January 2015, they have $119,226 saved in their building and scrip fund. This money is never used to pay monthly expenses. It’s kept for land or building purchase only.
Q: Had Hidden Valley ever considered applying for grants?
A: Yes, it’s already started. Each Campus Pastor identified top priorities for their campus and then we began applying for grants. As you all know, there are NO guarantees in the grant application process.