Straight to the Heart

 
 
 

2019 Budget Amendment Proposal

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

 

At the upcoming members meeting this Sunday, April 28, the elders are proposing a budget amendment that would increase pastoral staff salaries, effective May 1, 2019. My aim in writing this article is to explain why we are proposing this amendment to the budget, and to provide some details of the proposed change.

 

LOOKING BACK

First, let me begin by explaining how the elders arrived at the 2019 budget as it currently stands. The elders took a conservative approach in putting together the church’s budget for 2019. If you remember, from 2018 to 2019, we lowered our budget by over $105,000. Why the reason for such a large decrease in the budget?

There are usually a variety of factors that go into such a decision, but the driving factor was that our giving was down in 2018. Our general fund income for 2018 was $1,223,963, which was about $64,600 less than our giving in 2017. With these numbers in mind, and in an effort to be wise stewards with the resources God has entrusted to this church, the elders proposed a more conservative budget for 2019.

Looking back, we believe this was a wise decision that has served us well so far in 2019. However, we have come to realize in recent days that we were too conservative in one area of great importance, and this is the part of the budget that accounts for pastoral staff salaries. This realization has led to the proposed budget amendment I am now addressing, which would increase pastoral staff salaries, if approved this Sunday evening. But before I get into the details of the proposal, let me elaborate on some reasons behind the proposal.

WHY INCREASE PASTORAL STAFF SALARIES?

The largest percentage of High Pointe’s budget goes to the gospel workers serving this church. This is by design. We gladly support gospel workers serving around the world, and by God’s grace we set aside over 10% of our budget year after year for the spread of the gospel to the nations. But we also joyfully support the gospel workers here at High Pointe, and we seek to do so as we’re taught by Scripture.

In 1 Timothy 5:17-18, Paul instructs us on how we are to care for the elders of the church. He says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’”

We seek to care well for the pastors that God has gifted this church with, to lead it, and to care for it, but this also has implications for how we care for all of the gospel workers at High Pointe, which includes all of our pastoral staff. The pastoral staff begins with its pastors, but it also includes its ministry directors and pastoral assistants. All of these men have been gifted by God. They are faithful gospel workers, and they have families they provide for.

As a church, we seek to be generous as our Heavenly Father is generous. After all, “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). We desire to be generous in all things, and this includes how we compensate the gospel workers that serve this church.

In 2018, we performed extensive research on compensation. We began with church compensation data, but we also utilized some secular benchmarks, including compensation data from local High Schools in the Austin-metro area. Our research revealed that some of our pastoral staff were likely under-compensated.

So, we made an effort to start addressing these in 2019. Unfortunately, we came to realize in recent days that we didn’t go far enough. Austin is a rapidly growing city where cost-of-living expenses are rising, making it an increasingly expensive place to live. Part of our more recent research included obtaining compensation data from like-minded churches, which confirmed the need for salary increases.

THE GOOD NEWS

There is good news, however. At the very same time we have realized the need to amend our budget, God has poured out his blessings on High Pointe’s finances. Giving has improved thus far in 2019. Through the 1st Quarter of 2019 (January 1 – March 31, 2019), we have a surplus of $15,533. While this doesn’t guarantee that our giving will be as strong for the remainder of 2019, it does bring great encouragement to see such a large surplus!

1st Quarter giving in 2019 was $47,952 higher than our 1st Quarter in 2018. Now, our 2019 giving included a 5th Sunday in March, while there weren’t any 5th Sundays in the 1st Quarter of 2018, but regardless, our giving is clearly ahead of 2018 so far. The improvement in our giving thus far in 2019 has also allowed us to slowly build up our reserves, and as of April 22, 2019, we now have over $31,000 in savings!

While we do not yet know what the rest of 2019 will look like, we do find ourselves in the best financial position we have ever been in, and your pastors are more encouraged by the overall financial picture of the church than ever before. So we ask you to join us in (1) Praising God from whom all blessings flow!, and (2) Continuing in generosity with your regular giving, especially as we approach the summer months which historically bring lower giving.

THE PROPOSED BUDGET AMENDMENT

With all this in mind, the elders are proposing a $26,366 increase to the 2019 budget for the sole purpose of better caring for the pastoral staff here at High Pointe. We couldn’t imagine a better time to proceed with the necessary changes to care for our staff as our giving has clearly improved thus far in 2019. This is also a minimal increase to the overall budget, allowing us to still have a conservative budget when compared to previous years. The proposed budget for 2019, after the increase of $26,366, is $1,387,418. This is still over $79,000 less than our 2018 budget of $1,466,715.

We made the proposed amendment to our 2019 budget available in the church library on Easter Sunday. It will be available again this Sunday morning. Let me encourage you to pick up a copy if you haven’t already, so you can see the changes before our meeting on Sunday night. Please feel free to email me personally at davey@highpointeaustin.org, call the church office (512-837-7725), or catch me after the morning service this weekend if you have any questions.

On behalf of the elders, I want to thank you, High Pointe, for your generosity. We praise God for his provision, and we look forward to seeing what he will do in the rest of 2019 and beyond.

Love,

Pastor Davey



Why You Should Gather With the Church the Sunday After Easter

This Sunday is Easter Sunday. It’s the day when Christians throughout the world focus particular attention on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s also a Sunday when many people will come to church for the one time of the year. Consequently, churches will invest a lot of time, money, and resources to make Easter Sunday a special time for visitors. But what happens the Sunday after Easter? While Easter Sunday is usually the Sunday of highest attendance for a church, the Sunday after Easter is usually the very opposite. But if we really understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means, then the Sunday after Easter should be no different than Easter Sunday or any other Sunday of the year. In fact, I would argue that for the Christian, every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

 

The reason I say that every Sunday is Easter Sunday is because from its beginnings the church gathered on the first day of the week, Sunday, to remember Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the historical record as laid out by Richard Bauckham (see R. J. Bauckham, “Lord’s Day”, in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, ed. D. A. Carson, pages 221-250).  Bauckham’s arguments are carefully made and humbly presented.  At the risk of oversimplification, I want to summarize them in three points:

 

  1. The early church met on the Lord’s Day to commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection (Bauckham, 232-245): All four gospels emphasize Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week.  Though it cannot be proven that this was the reason established for Sunday worship, early Christians did connect gathering on the first day of the week with the Lord’s resurrection (Bauckham, 236, 240). Early church history attests to this fact as well (see Didache, Justin Martyr’s, First Apology, chapter 67).

 

  1. By the end of the first century, “Lord’s Day” is seen to be a technical term already in use in reference to the first day of the week/Sunday, the Christian gathering day (Revelation 1:10; see Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 222-232).

 

  1. By the middle of the second century, Lord’s Day worship gatherings are the universal practice of the church (Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 230).

 

From such evidence, I have come to the conclusion that the Lord’s Day is the chosen gathering day for distinctly Christian worship because it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, every Sunday the church gathers, it remembers and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, for Christians who understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means, every Sunday is Easter Sunday! That means that we should gather again this Sunday to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

 

So join us this resurrection Sunday as we confess together that Jesus Christ is risen and has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth. Join us as we humbly submit to His authoritative Word. Join us as we hear testimony of God’s grace this Sunday. Join us as we encourage one another with the good news that Jesus is alive and present with us until He comes again.

 

But make plans now to join us the following Sunday, and every Sunday after that. Join us on the mission to tell others that Jesus is alive, for He is risen. Join us as together we await Jesus’ return to consummate the kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace that He promised. Join us every Sunday, each Lord’s Day, as we celebrate Easter all over again!

 

Love,


Christ, The Firstfruits of Our Resurrection

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

(1 Corinthians 15:20, ESV)
 

God has put eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It’s no wonder, then, that we all have questions about life after death. But what do people believe about the afterlife? Atheists believe this life is all there is. If that’s the case, then we should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Yet, most people in the world believe in an afterlife. While the religions of the world hold to some kind of heaven or paradise or ultimate reality, those who hold to Eastern views likely believe in reincarnation: a seemingly endless cycle of incarnations until one is finally united with ultimate (spiritual) existence. Because God has put eternity in our hearts, we know that this life is not all there is. Christianity teaches that every person is born a sinner and deserves God’s judgment, which is death. But Christ lived a life pleasing to the Father and died on the cross to receive the penalty for sin that we all owe. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead, indicating that He accepted Jesus’ life and death as a substitute life and death for all who believe in Jesus. Through Christ, and only through Christ, all who believe have the hope of eternal life with God.

 

This month gospel churches throughout the world will gather to celebrate the living hope that we have in Jesus. Our hope is that all who believe in Him will also experience the resurrection from the dead, a physical resurrection to eternal life with the triune God. This is what the Old Testament taught (Daniel 12:1-3); this is what Jesus taught (John 5:25-29); and this is what the Jews believed (John 11:23-26). Apparently, some Corinthians denied the reality of the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12). They did not deny the afterlife altogether; what they rejected was a physical afterlife. They had no place for a resurrected body. It is this denial that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 15. As we prepare ourselves for Easter this month, let’s remind ourselves of the hope we have in Christ, and let’s equip ourselves to answer skeptic’s questions about resurrection, both Jesus’ and ours.

 

If you deny the resurrection of the dead, then by consequence, you deny Jesus’ resurrection (15:1-19).Paul’s basic argument: If Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, and if you (Corinthians) embraced this gospel, then how can you deny the resurrection of the dead (15:12).  Paul preached the resurrection of Christ as essential to the gospel (15:1-11). To deny the resurrection of the dead is to deny the resurrection of Christ because Christ’s resurrection is the basis for ours. If Christ has not been raised, then there is no hope for the living. We are still in our sins; there is no forgiveness; the gospel and our faith are without basis (15:14-17). Further, if Christ has not been raised, there is no hope for the dead; their bodies are in the ground decaying and nothing more (15:18). If Christ has not been raised, then Christians are the most pitiful people on earth (15:19).

 

But in fact, Christ has been raised, and His resurrection guarantees ours (15:20-28).By faith in Christ we are united with Him in His death, burial and resurrection (15:20-22; cf. Romans 6:1-11). Just as our union with the first Adam brings forth death, so our union with the last Adam brings forth life. However, everything happens in its own order: Christ, the firstfruits of the harvest, then at His coming, the full harvest to come and the resurrection of the dead (15:20, 23). Jesus’ first coming inaugurated the kingdom, the beginning of His reign (15:25-27). At that time Jesus crushed Satan (Genesis 3:15), accomplishing forgiveness of sin for those who believe (Colossians 2:15). Now, Jesus is ruling Lord, crushing His enemies under His feet (Hebrews 2:5-9). When Jesus returns, then comes the end, the final resurrection when death will be defeated (15:24, 26, 28, 54-57).

 

Since Christ has been raised, we have hope!Therefore, UNTIL Christ returns we must live consistently with the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection (15:29). As we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23), our lives must declare this hope! 

 

With the hope of the resurrection, we know that to die is gain(Philippians 1:21). Consequently, we will not fear death, for Christ has defeated sin and death and Satan (Hebrews 2:14-18).

 

With the hope of the resurrection, we know that to live is Christ(Philippians 1:21). Our lives have meaning, purpose in Christ. We will not sit idly by and await the return of Christ. We will be willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (15:30-32; Philippians 3:7-11). We will press on in pursuing holiness so as not to be ashamed on that day (15:33-34; Philippians 3:12-21).  And we will call all people to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus that they too may share in our hope. What does your life say about what you believe concerning the resurrection of the dead?

 

On April 21, we will gather to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many unchurched and unbelievers are willing to go to church this Easter. Will you make plans to bring someone with you so that they might hear the good news about Jesus and the resurrection hope he offers? After the service, you can continue the conversation over lunch. Let us take advantage of every opportunity the Spirit gives us to tell others about Jesus and his promised kingdom.

 

Love,
 



Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. In addition, Juan serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has authored numerous books, including 1 Peter for You and Seven Dangers Facing your Church. Juan and his wife, Jeanine, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
 
    

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