We had to figure out all of that and do it well within four days so in order to do that, we had to buy some stuff. We didn't have all the camera, equipment ready, and the tripods. We didn't have a subscription to a live streaming service. There was money we had to spend immediately and we're a small congregation. So how were we able to do that when we couldn't even get everybody together for an offering and we had four days to get it done?
Well, here's how we were able to pull it off. I have now been at my congregation for 28 years. I came as the senior pastor 28 years ago. And for the first 15 years or so, it was a building process. We were trying to take an unhealthy church and make it healthy again. And at seven or eight years, we were fairly healthy. And by 15 years we were pretty healthy and doing strong, but financially, we were still going at best month to month and quite often week to week, like how much our money needs to come in the offering this Sunday to make sure we hit payroll?
And I got to the point where it was just exhausting. And I thought, you know what? We can't live this way anymore. This is not good stewardship. This is not living by faith. This is unhealthy for us.
So I went to our leadership, into our congregation and I said, “I want to put 10% of our general fund money away (that is non-designated giving) into a particular item on our budget that is going to be a reserve account. We're going to keep putting into it until we have three months’ worth of our budget sitting in the bank account in cash that we can draw on when we need to.
I calculated out that I think that should have taken like three, three and a half years to do it. It took us 10 years. Why? Because you put a little bit in and you had to take it out again, or for a certain season, we're tight to the vest, it's a small church, and we couldn't put anything in. But we never gave up and added about 10 years.
We finally had about three months of money in our bank account. That was about five years ago. So when the pandemic hit, we had three months’ worth of budget sitting in the bank, ready to draw on. We could just pull from it, buy the equipment we needed and be able to do the things we needed. Later on during the summer, when we still couldn't meet in the building but we could meet outside, we're in California and we had to cover people up from the sun.