Trinity Life Church Financial Updates
Dear Trinity Life Church,
Let me tell you the story of the first time I gave money to a church. The year was 2011 and I had a shiny yellow Australian $50 bill in my pocket. I sat in a row of chairs at a youth and young adults gathering in a ‘smoke and lasers’ style Pentacostal church, in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia. My hands were sweating as I heard the call to give, which seemed to come every time we gathered. I kept my hand in my pocket, holding on tight to that $50 bill. It was a lot of money for me, considering I was a poor student working part-time to buy food and have fun.
The opportunity to give at this church had come and gone many times before but this time something was different for me. My heart pounded. I knew the money in my pocket wasn’t my own. I couldn’t explain it but I knew this time that I needed to drop it in the bucket instead of waving off the person walking by collecting offerings. My doubts, the anxiety of lost possibilities,and the physical and emotional pain of the sacrifice overwhelmed me. These feelings weren’t just about the loss of the opportunities which money provides. They penetrated deeper, cutting down to another layer of my soul.
‘Who am I?’, I asked myself. Why did I continue to participate in the strange activity called church? Was I truly a part of it now? This experience challenged my identity. I knew Jesus and at this point, we had reconciled many of our disagreements. I had confidence my sin was forgiven and I was assured of my purpose and direction in a vague and juvenile sense. Yet, I still had to reckon with my place in the community of faith. What does it mean to fully participate and belong in a community? Why did this decision to give money seem so difficult?
This church organization seemed to have everything figured out. They had a massive staff, a tight knit team of leaders, and tonnes of people in attendance. It was the largest church I could have imagined at that stage of my journey. I didn’t grow up in the church world so this type of crowd at a church seemed extraordinary. .
What I hadn’t yet considered was the fact that the organization only existed because approximately 700 people felt like their church’s endeavor was valuable. Each person played their part to sustain the buttresses that housed them around their common goal. I also hadn’t considered that a team of people stewarded the finances and staked the survival of themselves and their families on the continued faithfulness of the rest of the community. It never once crossed my mind that my financial participation might mean that this thing got to continue into the future in its current form. Neither had I thought about what it might mean to the lives of the families at the centre of the effort, which I participated in and benefited from, for me to play my part in maintaining the financial energy of the organization so that more people could share and join the experience. I hadn’t considered that my friends’ kids could eat or not eat because of my participation or lack thereof.
Furthermore, I hadn’t realized this small church’s connection to the larger world. This church engaged in India, regularly helping those in need and bringing the light and love of Jesus. This church was also actively participating in the transformation of their city by the Gospel. Surfers Paradise is like the Las Vegas of the Southern Hemisphere and therefore experiences a lot of brokenness and pain specifically fueled by substances. This church ran one of the largest addictions rehabilitation programs in the country and was a model and leader on this front. God was showing me that my fishes and loaves could be used to multiply these efforts if I was willing.
Many years and valuable lessons later, I find myself here, writing to you about the financial state of our dear church. Trinity Life Church has been through a ton of transition in the past few years, and that inevitably leads to economic instability and insecurity. The transition has been two fold:
- THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT: Some of our beloved friends have decided to take the next leg of their journey in the Kingdom of God apart from fellowship with us. We have gone through a lot as a society and as a church and this has impacted many of us more than we realize. Because of that, this year is dedicated to recovering from and processing these events together. I want you to know that the impact is also greatly felt by your leaders and they need your love, care, and grace in this season.I have also been hearing from pastors all over the world that hiring new staff has been a near impossibility as fewer and fewer people are willing to take up the mantle of paid church ministry. If paid workers for Christ are in low supply then those who would volunteer their time to lead you and disciple you are even more rare and valuable. I implore you to cherish the leaders who remain to steward your soul and care for your family. As people have moved on this has impacted our financial health. I will address this more below.
- THOSE WHO HAVE COME: Many new friends have begun to fill the void. This inevitably means that more of the work is being carried out by those closer to the centre. If you have ever heard of the ‘Pareto principle’ you will know that a typical distribution of work in any organization amounts to 80% of work being done by 20% of the people. This is unfortunately also true in most churches in North America. The stats illustrate that 80% of the giving, serving, organizing, praying, is done by 20% of the people. As new friends come into our community, they will need those who have remained to invite them to integrate into a deeper level of commitment and community so they can be a part of the common mission we all share. Our Jesus continues to do great work and wants to invite all to participate. The Church, on a global scale, should break the Pareto distribution! The church should have 100% participation by the faithful in Christ. Our new friends will need you to invite them in to participate through covenant membership in order for us to make tangible steps towards healthy consolidation.
So, back in Surfer’s Paradise, what ended up happening to that yellow $50 bill? I pulled that money out of my pocket with my sweaty hands and dropped it into the cavernous plastic bucket never to be seen again. I doubled down on my relationship with Jesus and took the risk. Something broke in me that day–a spiritual stronghold that connected my identity to my ability to produce, provide myself comfort, security and safety (in my bank account), and my ability to rise to the top. I knew there was a Lord in whom I did not need to be anxious about the small things in the world. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I now knew there was a new paradigm in which to think about investment. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” This knowledge helped me evaluate the affections of my heart and reposition my actions to match my growing love for Jesus. During this time I was learning the truth of Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Since that moment of transformation, I have always maintained a posture of regular, cheerful, generous, and sacrificial giving as the New Testament prescribes for the Christian. My hope is that we all share that experience of transformation in some form or another and are ready for the task of rebuilding ahead. This summer we will talk a lot about this throughout our Nehemiah Series: Broken, Battered, but Building. In order to do this we need to tackle the present situation head on.
How is our church doing financially?
Trinity Life Church has only survived because of the faithful fundraising by its founders and staff. These funds have carried us through some of the best and toughest years financially, including the startup phase where nobody was regularly giving at all! They have carried us in all seasons and continue to do so to this day. Currently, We are pulling quite dramatically from the fundraising we have stored over the years in order to invest into the future sustainability of the community.
Here are some steps we have taken as an organization to move towards financial health:
- We have made a conscious choice to run a deficit for 2023 of $32,000
- We have pared down our expenses by 40% Year over year
- We will be cutting into our savings by ~50%
- We have a fundraising goal of $20,000 to offset a portion of our expenses.
- We have increased investment in healthy leaders.
Here are two ways you can participate in creating financial health at Trinity Life moving forward:
- We set a target for our GLOCAL gift campaign of $14,000 so we can continue to go OUT and explore Global engagement for 2024. This will also include reaching our own neighbourhoods and communities as we engage locally.
- We set a target for regular giving based on what our covenant members gave last year of $130,000.
Both of these targets for our community are modest and conservative in order to best steward our coming year of friendship, consolidation, healing, and restoration. I know and trust that as a church your participation in regular giving and over-the-top additional generosity will help us to navigate a tough transitional time in the life of our community.
Here are three practical steps for us:
- Consider covenant membership with Trinity Life Church and build towards a bright future for the church in Toronto with us.
- Consider how you will participate in financial giving this year through regular giving AND the Glocal gift.
- Pray for your leaders as they make decisions to maintain our organizational entity and navigate the difficult transition.
Thank you to those who have given regularly over the years and have thereby participated in 10 years of glorious community and mission at Trinity Life Church. Thank you to those who will begin participating in the journey this year and help set the foundation for the next 10 years of the adventure.
Some of you may be excited by the opportunity to jump in and take the bull by the horns this year. Others of you may find yourself with questions. If you are one of those people with questions the board and your leaders want you to have any information you feel like you need to be a full participant within your church community. Please reach out anytime to your R3 leader and they can either answer your question directly or connect you to the right person to answer your question. You can also reach out to
I love you all and am excited for what is ahead.
May the God of all Glory give you peace.
Pastor of Vision and Culture