Investors' Report | Summer 2020

Spiritual Multiplication • Kingdom Flourishing

“Doing Church” in a New Way:

Physically Distant, Socially Connected

To say that things look different now than they did six months ago is an understatement. Everything about church, it seems, is different.
Worship looks different.
Connecting looks different.
Serving looks different.
Even how we Grow in our faith is a little different.
 
But is different bad? Or is it just … different?

Is your prayer for teens to know Christ? Read the BELONG story below.
Or for the poorest of the poor in India to be fed, loved, and seen as they make a hazardous cross-country trek? Read the BLESS story below.

But make sure to read all of these stories, because throughout this pandemic, we are being reminded that God is living and active everywhere and in everything. And above all, God is good. 

We have learned that Worship can happen anywhere … even while folding laundry … and that is good.
Belonging can happen between teens on a live stream from another state. And that is good.
Growth can happen in a driveway with a popsicle and a coloring sheet. And that is good.
And great Blessing can happen at a roadside food stand in India. And that is very good.


... inside or outside of our walls


After months of worshipping at home, in-person services resumed in July. But rather than throwing open the doors and encouraging a return to “normal,” on-campus services are simply another venue available again to our church family.

We worship at home.
We worship alone or with family or friends.
We worship in the church building.
But no matter where you sit or who is sitting beside you, we are worshiping together as a united body.

“We enjoyed coffee and crazy on our couch very much,” said Perimeter member Courtney Hester. She and her husband Matt have been worshipping at home with their three boys—Lathem, Calhoun, and Mace. “Though we found it hard to worship at times, we learned worship is way more than singing perfectly and being in a building. The time at home has taught us more about just purely following and loving Jesus.”

But like many, the Hester family was ready to worship together when the time came.

“Going back was good for our souls to be with others in the body physically and sing together. There is a reason I believe it says in heaven our focus will be worshipping in unison together ALL THE TIME,” said Courtney. “We were excited to be together again and lift our voices—off the couch.

“It has been a sweet time of worshiping at home with family,” said Perimeter member Jennifer Style. The Styles have been worshiping at home with her parents in addition to her children. They are thinking of returning to worship on campus soon; however, her parents need to be more cautious and plan to wait before coming to Perimeter for corporate worship.

Stephanie Griffin, whose family moved from Berkley Lake to California last year, loves keeping up with her “Georgia home church” via the streaming service. Their home church in California worships outdoors, so they are able to gather in person, but distanced. But Stephanie likes to keep up with Perimeter—even from across the country.

“I do laundry on Saturday, then dump all of the clean clothes on the floor of the loft Saturday night. Then I get up at 5:30 AM and fold laundry while worshiping with Perimeter online,” said Stephanie via email. “I realize it may seem irreverent to fold laundry while watching the service — and stopping to sing or take notes—but I haven’t missed a week since I started this routine!”

“We are thankful for continued solid teaching and desire to worship well no matter how, when, where we worship as part of Perimeter,” said Courtney. “The WHY never changes and that is always the focus for the Perimeter family.”

Preparing the Church for Gathering

The Facilities and Guest Services groups have worked hard to make the church as safe and welcoming a place as it can be. But they know that it’s not for everyone. Not yet. This is evidenced by the continued majority of our church family who needs to join services remotely.

“We started planning for the July opening in May,” said Guest Services Director Tricia Stradley.

Facilities Director Philip Hicks says that weeks of lead-time was necessary to get the church ready to open again. “We have added more than 25 new sanitation stations,” said Philip. “We have added custodial staff to clean and disinfect all common areas, main restrooms, and high contact areas on Sunday mornings.”

The church even purchased a fog machine. Not to give the sanctuary a rock concert atmosphere, however. This fog machine distributes disinfectant over large spaces and helps get the sanctuary ready for members and visitors before Sunday services.



And yes, visitors are still a big part of Perimeter Sunday worship—both in-person and online. The church recently added an online chat feature to our Sunday service stream. Visitors can reach out to a Guest Services team member during the service to ask questions and get information about the church.

“We are having lots of visitors every week since the re-opening!” said Tricia. “We want to make them feel welcome. You can tell someone is smiling, even through a mask."


Rush reminds students that they ...


How do you do a summer teen conference with 800 kids from all over the Southeast in the midst of a pandemic?
 
You don’t. But you also don’t throw in the towel and give up. At least, not if you’re leading Perimeter’s annual Rush Conference.
 
This year, Rush was limited to Perimeter students only. That meant there was in-person participation from about 250 teens. However, another 200 watched the Rush virtual conference — which was live-streamed.
 
“We really took a lot of our production budget and put it at being able to broadcast at a high, effective level,” said Jeff Summers, Pastor of Student Families. “We went from one camera in the back of the room that was live … sometimes … to 20 cameras this year. We had switchers, and the cameras were moving around all the time. Some students were running cameras, learning how to produce.”
 
A big component of Rush has always been community service—and this year was no different. Teams went to a dozen different locations and did everything from make hygiene kits for the homeless to working at the Fill Ministries Aquaponic Farm which provides fresh produce to families who are food-insecure.

But one of the biggest victories, at least in the eyes of the teens who participated in Rush, was that it happened at all. For many, Rush was a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. When schools closed in March, most students thought they would be back in a few weeks. Then one by one, they lost important milestones, especially for seniors.

“Rush became vitally important, especially to the seniors,” said Jeff. “There was a huge sense of loss for all kids, but especially seniors. Many wait for years to get to lead worship, play that guitar solo, speak on stage. The fact that we were able to do it was a huge blessing for a lot of students.”


Rush proved to Perimeter’s students—and hundreds of students who couldn’t attend live—that belonging comes in many forms. We may be physically distant, but we can still be socially connected.


Jax Church Travels to Rush ... Virtually!

When the students at Pinewood Church in Jacksonvlle, Florida, found out their annual trek to Atlanta for Rush was canceled, they were crushed. Yet another event taken away from them.
 
But then their leader informed them that there was a compromise in the works. The students would go on a real trip … just not to Atlanta. And they would stream Rush each day.
 
“They had had so many things taken away from them, they were excited for anything!” Said Pinewood Director of Students, Jason Henning.  “I created the retreat we did in a way that I thought they would not lose all enthusiasm.”

Jason rented houses near each other in Orlando. The students gathered each morning and evening to participate in the Rush live stream.

Was it the same as being there? No. Was it worth it. According to Jason and his students ... YES!

"Overall it was a Godsend for our students and we are beyond thankful for it!" said Jason. "It was a SUCCESS! We would participate virtually again if need be. I know this was a Plan C situation and so there can be tweaks, but it was done so well. Jeff and his team are phenomenal in every way!"


... your child's faith in a driveway


What are we going to do all summer?”

How many children—and adults—found themselves asking this same question? 

For Perimeter moms Laura Warner and Jennifer Campbell, this summer gave them the opportunity to do something they had been noodling on for years: a Vacation Bible School right in their neighborhood. The sisters, who also live walking distance from each other, decided that this was the year. It would be an all-hands-on-deck undertaking, so their five teen and tween kids needed to be in. And they were. Finally! Something to look forward to!

They floated the idea on their neighborhood Facebook page, and before they knew it, they had 23 kids, from pre-school to middle school, signed up.

“That’s when I called Drue in!” said Laura, whose husband Drue is Perimeter’s pastor for Sugar Hill, Suwanee, and Cumming. Drue was put in charge of the Bible teaching for each day of the week-long camp.

The setup was like most Vacation Bible Schools: worship, Bible time, art, games, and small group discussions. A teen headed up each group of kids, and teens also ran the games and art stations. Because of COVID, the entire camp happened outside—in Drue and Laura’s driveway and yard. Jennifer and Laura’s mom, Lynda Dill, kept the bathrooms sanitized and helped with snacks. Each child brought their own water bottle.

The theme for the week was love, and the passage was 1 Corinthians 13. It was a very timely, as it turns out.

“VBS happened when the George Floyd awareness was at a peak,” said Drue. “We have a lot of diversity in our neighborhood and the kids represented that. We had lots of conversations with the teens. The topic of love was perfect timing.”

Would they have done VBS this particular summer without the pandemic? "Probably not,” said Drue. They would have spent time hanging out with kids at our neighborhood pool, but it would have been different.

Would they consider doing it again? Yes! Plans for "pop-up" VBS nights are already in the works.






... those who meet you along the road


Industry in India is frequently run by migrant workers from rural areas. They leave their families, their villages, and come to the city looking for work. But what happens when industry shuts down for a pandemic? Their jobs are gone, and frequently back wages are not paid. Their only option is to go back to their villages, frequently on foot.

For many reasons—most of them related to the crushing caste system in India—government aid was not available to these migrant workers. Not even transportation. They, like the traveler in the story of the Good Samaritan, were literally abandoned on the side of the road.

Our India partner ministry, Dinbandhu, saw the columns of poor, displaced manual laborers carrying everything they owned on their backs. Many were barefoot. All were hungry. And they sprang into action.

With the help of partners around the globe—including a $15,000 emergency aid grant from Perimeter Church—they set up roadside kitchen outside the village of Jamtha. The kitchen supplies not only hot meals and travel packages of food, but dignity and love.

Wounds are treated.
New shoes are distributed.
Needs are prayed for.
The gospel is shared.
Burdens are lifted.

Migrants can rest and eat freely until they are ready to continue the road home—not even knowing if their village will welcome them back or lock them out.

The following video gives an overview of the situation and what Dinbandhu, our partner of almost 25 years, is doing. It also shows how people of many faiths and castes are being drawn to the One True God through the love and service of Dinbandhu.


Watch Dinbandhu's video about how God is using them to serve the migrant workers attempting to walk home during India's pandemic lockdown.


Financial Update

Since the pandemic started, there have been both incredible blessing and great hardship in our communities and cities. This has translated into both acts of incredible giving as well as significant financial shortfalls.

  • Early on, many families stepped forward and made gifts to our deacon’s fund to support members who were going to be negatively impacted by job loss and economic slowing.
  • Others chose to fulfill their Rooted to Flourish pledges early to ensure that the church had the funds necessary to handle whatever unknowns lay ahead.
  • Now that our country is in a full-on recession, not surprisingly, giving has slowed considerably.
  • Current trends in our giving indicate that we could experience a shortfall of $1.5 million in our projected giving for the year 2020.
  • Church leadership and the elder ministry team are continuously evaluating expenses and budgets and are adjusting each appropriately, as to not spend more than is received.

Q&A with CFO Stacey Earnest

Given the situation, we thought this would be a good time to check in with Perimeter’s CFO, Stacey Earnest. She answered many of the questions that are probably on the minds of our members in light of the pandemic and subsequent recession.
 
Q. How has the church's actual spending been impacted by the pandemic and limited onsite activities? 
Actual spending during the pandemic has gone down. We want to make sure we are ministering to our members, our community, and our global partners well while capturing natural savings due to reduced activity. These savings have reduced the impact of the downward trend in giving. However, adjustments will still need to be made. 
 
Q. How is the church benefiting from not having a mortgage right now?
The foresight of leadership and extreme generosity of donors in prior years allowed the church to pay off the mortgage several years ago. This reduces the amount of our budget—especially in the area of fixed costs. Therefore, we came into this time of uncertainty fiscally strong. 
 
Q. Should I be worried?
No! We know that God is in control, and we are managers of His provision. We will maintain reserves and spend less than is given, which means we will make adjustments as needed.
 

Q. What's your message for people who are struggling financially right now? What about people who are in a fairly solid financial position?
For those who are struggling, please complete the request form on our Deacon Care page (perimeter.org/DeaconCare) or let your elder shepherd know how we can come alongside you. If you don’t know how to contact your shepherd, please log into your MyPerimeter account. Your shepherd’s information is in your profile. This is what the body of Christ is about–taking care of each other and serving those in need. 

For those who are in a fairly solid position, we thank you for your faithfulness in giving. Please consider how you might be able to help the work of your church in an even more significant way in this time of increased need.  ?


Want To Know More?


Also feel free to contact Stacey or Jim for information about Rooted to Flourish or for answers to your questions:
 
Jim McCoun
Director of Kingdom Investments and Stewardship
jimm@perimeter.org
Work: 678.405.2145

Stacey Earnest
Chief Financial Officer
searnest@perimeter.org
Work: 678.405.2115


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