Riverview Church

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2017 was a year marked by significant challenge and change, in no small part due to substantial financial difficulty in the first quarter of the year. Those who have recently joined Riverview may find it helpful to read our previous Letters to the Riverview Church Family which explain what transpired during this period.

The purpose of this latest update is to provide you with essential information regarding:

Church Finances
Changes to the Senior Leadership Team (Core Team)
Changes to our Weekend Service Times
Changes to the Riverview Board

Financial Update                     

During the second and third quarter of the year, the regular giving to both Riverview Church and Riverview Trust increased substantially and was sustained for much of the period.

Giving throughout the fourth quarter came down from the highs seen during the months immediately following the crisis, but nevertheless remained strong and stable.

The figures below indicate the giving for each quarter relative to the budgeted income.

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Church -$293,149
under budget
over budget
over budget
over budget
Trust -$137,103
under budget
over budget
over budget
over budget

In June of 2017 we reduced our Operating Expenses by 27% which included an 18% reduction in staffing costs. This involved redundancies and role reductions that affected the general staff as well as the Executive level leadership roles (A reduction to the Senior Minister’s level of remuneration as well as the Executive Ministers’ remuneration levels and the Executive Ministers Assistant role being made redundant).

The reduction in expenditure and increased income created margin and led to a stronger cash position as reflected in the difference between the opening bank balances at 1st of May and 31st of December.

  Church Trust
1 May 2017 $352,331 $41,803
31 December 2017 $1,085,691 $556,681
Increased by $733,659 $514,878

The improvement in the cash positon and income / expense portion of the budget means that we have been able to address the short-term cash-flow problem we experienced in the first quarter, build up reserves and position ourselves to renegotiate our loan arrangement with the bank.

We currently we have a 5-year loan facility for $7.6 million that will put pressure on the cash flow in the medium term i.e. 2018 / 2019. This is because the structure and terms of the loan include significant increases to the repayments over the next two years. We are planning to approach the bank to renegotiate the loan arrangement and see if we can get a better and more manageable deal.

While the stronger cash position is encouraging, it is important to remember that we still have Stage 3 of the building renovation to complete with an approximate cost of $3 million. We will say more about our plans for this at the Vision Weekend celebrations in February.

Changes to the Senior Leadership Team (Core Team)                     

As a result of the 2018 planning process conducted during October and November, we implemented a second, smaller staffing restructure that affected the senior leadership level referred to as the Core Team (which was unaffected during the first round of restructure in June). This took place in December. The restructure was necessary for both organisational and financial reasons and was essential to balancing the budget for 2018 in preparation for our negotiations with the bank.

Those on the Core Team whose roles were affected by the restructure included Nat Brown, Nick Martin and Lisa Gageler. All three were offered alternative roles on staff but at lower levels of remuneration. As the new roles required lower salaries, we were obligated by law to offer them the option of redundancy too. Nat and Nick chose to take the redundancy option and Lisa chose to transition into her new role. All three have been valuable members of the team throughout this challenging period and we are delighted that Lisa will continue to play a significant role in helping us shape the future of Riverview. We wish both Nat and Nick the very best as they step into new seasons of life and ministry.

Changes to Weekend Services Times                     

On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of January, we announced that from the last weekend in January (27th / 28th) we will no longer be running Saturday night services at the Burswood. That means that January the 20th will be the last Saturday 5pm service at Burswood for the foreseeable future. On Sunday the 28th of January, all our Saturday 5pm volunteer teams and attendees will be migrating across to join our Sunday services at 9am, 11am and 5pm.

The reason for the change is two-fold:

  1. We are making a significant change to our ministry strategy and moving to a multisite model of church with new services opening up in Joondalup in February of this year. This means we are, in effect, moving from 4 services to 5, with 3 being held at Burswood and 2 (or possibly 3, depending on demand) being held at Joondalup. Closing Saturday night services enables us to concentrate our resources onto Sunday services across the two sites.

  2. We are currently averaging 38% capacity on a Saturday night with an average attendance of around 420 people. All our other services are between 65% and 75% capacity. The amount of resource (staffing, volunteers, finances, etc.) required to run the service is hard to justify when there is room to accommodate the Saturday night attendees in our Sunday services.

As we regain momentum and grow in both number and capacity at Burswood, we will look to add new services as necessary, including a fourth service on Sunday afternoon or evening and a fifth on Saturday night.
The following is a summary of our weekend service attendance averages over the past 3 years.

Weekend Service Attendance Averages*:

Year Youth Adults Kids Volunteers Total
Annual Average 2015 (before Curtin) 125 3376 536 442 4479
Annual Average 2016 (at Curtin) 98 2595 353 362 3408
Annual Average 2017 (post Curtin) 119 2818 396 331 3664

 * On any given weekend, around 75%-80% of Riverview members are in attendance at weekend services.

The 12 months spent offsite at Curtin had a significant impact on weekend attendance. The financial and organisational challenges experienced in the first quarter of 2017 no doubt affected the recovery.

Attendance for the 4th Quarter in 2017**:

Year Youth Adults Kids Volunteers Total
2017 4th Quarter Average 128 2713 378 307 3526

** Includes December school holiday period

Changes to the Riverview Board:                     

In response to the challenges experienced earlier in the year, the board has reviewed the governance structures and its own performance, including with the assistance of external consultants. A number of steps are being implemented to strengthen governance and oversight, and to better support the leadership, volunteers and congregation at Riverview. This includes steps such as revising our constitution, establishing a board charter, documenting the competencies required as part of the governance structure, and refreshing the board membership.

The board has decided that the Church would be best served with entirely fresh board membership, apart from 2 members who joined since August last year (Mal Cooke and Dee-May Ong). Two existing Board members, Aaron Gregory and Brian Harris, have resigned from the Board and we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to both of them for the time, energy and ability they have invested into the life of Riverview Church over many years.
Our board has 2 primary functions – first to provide mature spiritual oversight and counsel (eldership) and second to provide strategic and organisational rigour (governance). New board members may have a focus in one or the other but will need to be literate in both.
We are looking to appoint between 6 and 10 new board members at the AGM scheduled for April. The process before then will be to assess candidates who bring a diversity of perspectives and skills during January / February. The final nominees will be proposed to the staff and the congregation in March and take office from April. 

A Final Word of Encouragement

2018 promises to be an exciting year full of change, new initiatives, growing momentum and the opportunity to reach the people of Perth in more places and more ways. We want to say a big thank-you to all of you who persevered through the difficulties experienced last year and made it possible for us all to be here in 2018. Your patience, generosity, humility and trust in God has been exemplary and we commend you for it. We are confident that God has good things in store for us in the days that lie ahead and we can’t wait to start the journey with all of you into the new and unchartered waters God is leading us into.
We are believing for God’s richest blessings toward all of you.

With love and thanks

Tim and Liezl