Untapped Church Podcast is an outflow of the book “Untapped Church,” by Derek Sanford. The goal of this podcast is twofold:

1. To inspire volunteer leaders to step into high-capacity leadership roles in their church/organization no matter…

Full Transcript (Auto-Generated)

Welcome to the untapped church podcast where I’m going to spotlight the great work that’s being done by volunteer leaders to help inspire other volunteer leaders. We’re going to talk about what they do for a real job, what they do for a volunteer job. And we’ll hear about some interesting careers that you may have never heard about before, as well as actionable principles to help with your volunteer work. This first season we’ll be highlighting high capacity volunteer leaders from Grace Church who have all been spotlighted in my book called untapped church. If you’d like more information or anything around that subject, you can visit my website at Derek sanford.com. And obviously, if this podcast is helpful to you, please first of all subscribe so that you can get all the latest episodes, but then also like it and share it and comment if you would. All of those things help us to reach a broader audience. Today I’m joined by one of my personal heroes and mentors, an 84 year old rock star named Bernie Fariba. Bernie has lived in Erie, Pennsylvania since the fourth grade, which is a really long time at this point. So really, he’s been in his hometown for his whole life. He was in the Aerospace products division of Lord Corporation for 42 years. And for a good portion of that time, he was a plant manager. And then he’s been a part of Grace Church for the last couple of decades, working in operations and finances and special projects. He’s what we would call a full time volunteer, he works really most weeks, at least 40 hours per week for the church as a volunteer without pay. And he has had a profound impact on our organization, one that I can’t even begin to describe. So today we’re going to talk about his volunteer role as a financial manager for Grace Church. And so we’re going to talk about money and budgeting and all that fun stuff. And we’ll speak directly to volunteers who are working in the financial aspect of your church or organization as well. Bernie, welcome to the podcast. Thank you, Derek. Yeah, good to have you here. So I want to talk normally what we do is talk about your real job that you held in the real world first. And so I do want to talk about Aerospace products. Because that sounds fascinating. But before we do last, I heard recently, let’s put it that way about a an incident in your younger life where you spent a night in jail. And you are such a spiritual father to me, and so many, I think we could learn from your before Jesus days. And so would you just describe kind of a little bit what happened with you there?

Oh, thank you for this opportunity.

This is a confession.

When I was in high school, as a senior, we went out one evening, and my folks thought that I was staying at someone else’s house. And they thought the same thing about the other fellows. And so we decided to have a few nips of some illegal substance. And we went to the Glenwood zoo area, and I was roaring at the lions. And that made a lot of noise. And we were one of my friends got a little rowdy and threw a picnic bench into the creek. And we were on this merry go round. And I was starting to not feel too good. So I said, please stop the merry go round. And all of a sudden a light went on, and the voice came out. You better stop. And it turned out to be the police because the neighbors that complained about the roaring lions. So they put us in a police car and took us down and we spent the night in jail. Wow. Now my parents didn’t know about that. But I was working at a shoe store downtown in the paper came out and I happen to look at it. And in the front page of the second section was this thing about vandals having a hook at Glenwood park at the zoo with the names. And so my parents called me and thought maybe we needed to move out of town. I can’t recall the rest of that story. That still sticks in my mind. And

I was more fascinated with every detail. It started with the roaring at the lions then eventually ended up in a creek somehow and man, Ernie, that is that is beautiful. Thank you for that. And then you met Jesus. And that’s right. And it’s all different. You didn’t You didn’t vandalize the zoo anymore.

No. I don’t roar anymore either.

I don’t know about that. Alright, so hey, can we talk about your thank you for that? That was? I’m sure it was good to get that off your chest. Good, fresher. So hey, can you tell us a little bit about your job at Lord corporation which I’ve always found the wonderful irony that you went from working at Lord’s to working for the Lord. And I might as well get that out of the way right now or I will dwell on it the whole time. So aerospace product division of Lord Corporation so can you talk about like for real world person? What what did you do there? What kind of products did you produce in a way that people would know kind of from things that they’ve experienced in their life, what you contribute to the world?

Well, there are forces in nature of vibration and shock can be caused by different things in the real world. And so one of the things that Lord is famous for is taking elastomers, that could be natural rubber, neoprene, silicone, broad temperature range materials, bonding them very effectively to metal parts, and mounting engines, either in fixed wing craft or helicopters. Or on you may have seen the V 22. In the news, the military has been using that we have engine mountings on that. And so the idea is to protect those precious, precious operating systems from destructive forces. And so we have very finely machined metal components and very highly compounded elastomeric components that go into these products. And there’s a whole variety of them. Wow,

so, so for the Average Joe, when they fly in an airplane or helicopter, what what do what difference to these products that you are making make on a normal machine like that? Well, they’ll

have a much more comfortable and much safer trip.

Yeah. So they won’t feel shimmy or they won’t hear probably hear jangling of BART’s and things

are the engine will come off the mountings and disappear.

Thank God for that. So what what was your role at, Lord when you were there?

Well, I had many roles. I went through engineering and marketing and sales quality, and manufacturing, it was a plant manager for many years there at the 12 Street plant. And so I had responsibility for six area managers, 12, supervisors, 450, hourly people, we had a three shift operation, we had two union locals that were there. So all that goes with that.

So you really worked your way up through the Yes, through the chain. What what what do you think? Why do you think that happened? Like, what did they see in you? What were some of the character qualities that you feel like helped you to ascend through the ranks there?

Well, I didn’t want to be an engineer forever. So my boss and I decided we wanted to get an MBA, and they didn’t offer that in Erie. So we went to the University of Buffalo, two nights a week for three years after work. So we got an MBA. And that was one step I took, but it was really the Lord guiding my career. Yeah, as I look back on it, in some ways, it doesn’t make sense.

Yeah. That’s incredible. I mean, you you really had a, I mean, I remember talking to you, the early days after you retired and thinking, in the scope of your responsibility, the number of people that you were responsible for, was pretty incredible. I mean, what what kind of leadership advice, I guess, would you give people who are managing people are doing kind of what you did in those days, what was some of the keys to your success, or like even a typical day for you, as you were overseeing people?

Well, typical days is quite unusual in the manufacturing business. Because time matters, we’re on the clock to deliver product. So everything is geared toward that. And of course, there are all kinds of problems that happen, human problems, quality problems, those kinds of things. So the goal would be to understand the employees that report directly to you and create a healthy environment for them. So they feel a sense of ownership and a sense of pride in what they’re accomplishing. Because it’s a tough job. Yeah, that’s great.

So at some point, Bernie, and you need to tell this story a little bit. I mean, you, you really sense the calling to the Lord, you sense the calling to really spend your time in ministry and kind of moving out of the business world. And, and you did it without pay, can you? Can you? I mean, that’s a lot there. Can you kind of walk us through what that how that went down?

Sure. I got born again, late in life at the age of 47. And so my wife and I started going to church. And I was really growing spiritually as a result of the the preaching there, and the involvement. And so the more that one on, the less I wanted to work for profit, and the more I wanted to work for the Lord, I realized a tremendous gift he had given me in salvation, and I wanted to find a way to to show my gratitude for that. But I thought I’d work until the rapture. I was very happy at Lord, no dissatisfaction there. But one day, the Lord spoke to me and said, retire, volunteer at Greece, spend more time with your wife. And we talked about it decided that was the thing to do. And so I retired at age 64. And came to grace and said, Well, I was already attending grace, but I really loved being here and And I came and offered my services. And so first thing I did was to do hospital visitation and kind of evolved from that. I recall getting calls from you, when my wife and I were in Arizona about, how would you like to do this? How do you like to do this?

Yeah, that’s why you don’t pick up, pick up the phone when you see my number on there anymore. So that was 20 years ago, you don’t need to go. You’ve been doing this for 20 years. That’s right, without pay. And that’s just been such a blessing to us. And hope it’s been a blessing to you in some ways. Oh, I think it has been

a joy. I’d love love being here among the people and working for the Lord.

What do you see? What do you find fulfilling? What do you see some of the benefits of your volunteer work here?

Well, the first is we have a tremendous staff over the over the 20 years, we’ve had tremendous people working here. So just experiencing those relationships is so satisfying. And then with the focus, being on the Lord and seeing the congregation, grow in their desire to serve the Lord, being part of leading a life group and seeing them mature, that whole package is just spiritually so satisfying. I couldn’t ask for more. And the Lord has given me good health. So I’m able to continue doing this. Yeah,

it’s incredible. And you know, I reflected a little bit about your, your time here with us. And I mean, so one of the things that, that I’ve grown to know and love about you is just that you’re a deep man of prayer, I have found that when, you know, when I want, when I when I want somebody praying for me, I come to you, because God somehow tends to listen and respond to your prayers, and in a little bit different way I feel like then he does for others. And so, I mean, I look back at just our history, our recent history, and I remember times popping into your office going this big meetings happening. When we were building our first kind of big facility here and grub road. You know, there were major decisions needing to be made contractors that were digging their heels in over this or that money that was getting stopped up or whatever, I’m just those practical things, and stopping in and going Bernie, would you pray? And I remember so many times coming back and celebrating with you about how God has answered prayer. So, you know, I know we’re going to talk about money and finances and operational stuff. But I think people need to know that really, at the heart of all of this, even that practical stuff. Is this heartbeat of prayer. That’s right. And, you know, I remember one of the one of the phrases that you said over and over again, is that God can change the hearts of men. And we saw that happen again and again. And again, when people were digging their heels in.

That is true. It’s interesting, your wife, Kim sent a young man who’s going through some marriage issues and because of that prayer, so that has resulted in a relationship. That’s been a blessing.

Yeah. Just incredible. So thank you for that. And I do want to talk about this area of finances, I think it’s, it’s an area that’s so important to churches, maybe more important now than ever, as churches are walking through, you know, the season after, hopefully in the, in the final chapters of COVID main impact. And, you know, I think it it messed with a lot of churches and pastors. And so I want to talk about your time with our financial, in our financial department, and really some of the principles that you’ve learned there. I think one of the things that this podcast can do is provide some actionable principles for people who are working in that department, maybe in their church. And so can you just talk about a couple of actionable principles that have come out of our finance department?

Well, the first one that comes to mind is Be diligent about budgets. Yeah.

Be diligent about budgets. So let’s talk about budgets for a second. You know, we have have tried to be diligent about budgets for a long time. And there’s a couple of different components to that. One of them has to do with making good projections. And this is one of those things that, again, when I look back at our time, I mean, there were years, the budgets were very, very tight here for many years. But I look back at some of the projections that you would make and you became famous for it, because we would, you know, we’re dealing with a million or so you know, a couple million dollar budget from time to time and we’d be down to the hundreds of dollars at the end of the year that we came in with that budget. So talk a little bit about projections, what kind of factors go into making good projections. And, you know, how would you kind of coach somebody who’s thinking about setting up a budget?

Well, one thing to realize is in a typical church setting 50% of your expenses will be related to personnel costs, salaries and benefits. 30% will be operational costs, which only leaves 20% And for ministry expense. So you need to be very careful to understand that breakdown, so you know what you can reasonably allocate to ministries. And so the way to go about it is, first of all, gather some history, it’s important to know what the attendance history is and what the trend has been, is it steady going up going down? That will be a factor on your giving, you need to look at your giving history? How has that been? Same question, steady, up, down. And then you need to look at your expenses and see what the history has been there, then you put all that together and try to put a projection based on what you expect to be doing in the coming year. 80%, as I said, is already pretty much settled. So you’ve got that 20, to give to the ministry leaders. And so they need to go and decide how they’re going to use those funds. Yeah,

that’s good. So I want to circle back and break this down. So you talked about, really kind of the two sides of any budget, income and expense. So one of the things when it’s when, when we’re projecting, you’re projecting both of those things up, you want to project income, you want to project expense, expense, you in a church setting anyway, you expense, you have some control over income, you don’t always have as much like in a business, you can pump up out more products, and, you know, make the income thing work in a church is different, because there’s a lot of predictions going on, and trying to figure out what will happen. So you mentioned, you know, making attendance predictions. And, you know, I think a couple of factors go into that, that we’ve talked about over the years. So, you know, there’s are we doing any specific outreach events this year that might attract more people that might make our attendance numbers go up? And again, people like you need to keep pastors like me on track, because our numbers can be inflated. And we can go, oh, yeah, we’re gonna bring in 200 More people from this event? And you’re like, Well, maybe 30. You know, and just try to try to be realistic about it. But I think about like, the other side of it is, are we making any decisions that are going to be controversial, that might cause people to leave the church? And so when we’re thinking about income, it’s like, and attendance? Okay, are there things that we’re doing that are going to increase attendance are the things that we’re doing that might affect attendance the other way? And and thinking about, you know, are there other factors, it went on the income side, that we would take into account?

Well, trying to understand more detail about the givers, the more you know, about the givers in what’s happening in their life, the better you’ll be able to project that revenue flow. Another thing is to really encourage online giving, we’ve done that over the years. And that’s been a tremendous help to us. Yeah, we can count on that coming every week, every month.

Yeah, there’s a stability there that you don’t get from in the plate giving, because sometimes if people aren’t there, they don’t bring their offerings. And that’s sort

of another factor is don’t be afraid to talk about money. Yeah.

Yeah, that’s good. We’ll get to that in a second. The so budgeting income. And I mean, you said Get to know the individual givers. And again, depending on the size of the church that’s listening. It’s it’s, it may be more or less possible, we’re a fairly good sized church. And we were still doing those personalized projections. I mean, I remember talking to you about, you know, you’d say, well, we know such and such as probably moving this year or so and so is looking at another job this year, and the things that we knew, especially from people who we knew their their income was going to affect kind of the income of the whole church. You you guys would project to those numbers into, you know, into the the budget.

And that’s why it’s important to have the staff be aware of what’s happening in the congregation. Yeah.

Yeah, that’s good. So so we would get input from our staff that would bring us that information as well. Now, you talked about the other piece of that budget, Bernie being so so there’s that 20% That that the basically the staff can spend, tell tell the folks a little bit about the process that we use that would allow staff to, to figure out how to allocate that money? Do they come to you? Do they present ideas to our leadership? Like what does that process like over the years?

Well, there’s really two approaches, they’re the one approach is to say, you’ve got this many 1000s of dollars, go figure out how you want to spend that in the coming year. The other approach is, if you’re looking for some innovation is asking them to tell you what they would like to accomplish in the coming year, and what the costs would be. It can be either

we’ve done a little bit of both approach. Yeah, you know, I think over the over the, over the time of saying, hey, let’s dream a little bit this year and see which kind of idea wins the day. And we’ve also had years we’ve come to them and said, Here’s how much you have, you know, make it work. That’s right thing and so, but that’s all Part of the, you know, the ins and outs of budgeting, but I think that’s really good. The other thing that I would say, you know, in addition to making good projections, making sure that expenditures are, you know, coming in under revenue is just really establishing a cash reserve. And this is something that we didn’t always do well. But it’s something that when you endeavor on the budgeting process you can do, because you begin then to set an amount aside to save for later. So talk a little bit about, you know, kind of our journey with cash reserves.

Well, a good philosophy is saved during times of surplus, the Joseph principle. And so there will be times when you get more revenue than you might have expected and don’t go spending it set it aside, we found it’s so important to have reserve funds to take care of operational expenses should revenue drop off, or to have funds that we can use to invest in assets in extraordinary maintenance of the facility.

Yeah, it’s good. So there’s always going to be repairs to buildings, there’s always going to be equipment that breaks down, there’s always going to be some sort of a staffing crisis that might need to be addressed. And so in order in order to deal with those things, and not cripple the church, those reserves can can come in. And I know, you know, we’ve been through some lean times talking about the Joseph principle we’ve been, we’ve been through some seven years of famine times, and haven’t had the seven years of plenty to deal with it. And that’s right. And we’ve had to take some other approaches as well, during those lean times. Can you talk about some of the things we’ve done? Well, are

times when we had to use line of credit on a monthly basis to pay our bills. There are times when we’ve had to lay off staff, which is very painful. There are times when the staff has had to give back some of their wage in order to get us through that season. So yeah,

yeah. I mean, praise God. We’re in a really good financial place. Now, I think after years and years of being diligent about it with your leadership and Aaron’s leadership. But just want to say out there that it hasn’t always been roses and gumdrops. We’ve had some difficult times as well. Okay. So the first actual principle is to be diligent about budgets. What’s the second thing that you would share with people about our financial principles?

Well, we mentioned saving during times of surplus Yeah. And don’t be afraid to talk about money with the congregation?

Yeah. Don’t be afraid to talk about money. So yes, say a little bit more about that. What do you mean?

Well, God wants us to be good stewards, as leaders of the church. Part of being a good steward is to have our people understand what God expects, and how they can do a good job of satisfying their responsibilities. So we’ve had the offerings of budget coaching for people that are in some difficulties helping them get more healthy. We’ve offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. And we talk about every year, you give a sermon to, or series of messages to the congregation about a responsibilities based on what Scripture says,

yeah, yeah, that’s good. It’s amazing. The number of pastors I talked to that just plain old, steer clear of the subject, don’t want to talk about it don’t and it is true, that a lot of people are turned off by money. Yes, we believe that for a long time, yes. And we’re a little bit tepid about ourselves about teaching on it, when we dove into those waters. You know, it really changed things for us. I mean, we could even you know, you’d come to me and go, we can pinpoint where, you know, our giving our generosity has taken a spike, again, to teach the scriptures on it. And, you know, I think that the Bible talks so much about money, so, so much about money, that for us to ignore it is is really, is really detrimental to the church. And I think you know, there are, as I’ve taught on this now, for a couple of decades, I think there are two sides to the money talk that we need to be mindful of. One is helping people out of their financial struggles. And so like you said, you know, we can offer training and counseling individually. I think our teaching needs to embody that that kind of heart as well, recognizing that for a lot of people, this is a tough sub, they’re in a difficult spot. And what does the Bible have to say about that, and about, you know, kind of climbing out of that difficulty?

Well, I think also having them understand you can’t outgive God, yeah, you can’t give good press down, shaken together, running over that scripture that is powerful. It’s visual.

Yeah. Beautiful. So So that’s that inspiring that generosity. And I think that, you know, that’s the other side of it is not only do we have to teach on the financial struggle side, like you said, we have to teach on the financial victory side that God has called us to be obedient and generous. And there are blessings attached to that in ways that aren’t attached to all the other instructions that God gives my wife

and I experienced that it was amazing what God can do

is true. He is so faithful when when we are faithful. And I think it’s because it’s so money is so attached to our hearts. That, you know that when when we see movement in our pocket books, it’s representative of movement that’s happening in our heart and our faith through God response response to kids that, you know, take the leap and obey Him. Alright, well, thank you, Bernie. The two actionable principles be diligent about budgets. Don’t be afraid to talk about money. And I want to close out with asking a couple rapid fire questions. You ready for these?

I’m ready. All right.

So what is the latest book?

You’ve read? Systematic Theology by Grudem?

Wow. Yeah, that’s good, deep stuff. All right, who’s the person in the Bible that you most relate to and why?

John the Baptist said in John 330, He must increase, I must decrease.

That’s a good one. All right. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

Let’s stop traffic on 38th Street.

Wait, you gotta kill a smart

story. Well, when I was in college again, and then the drill team, they had a military ball, but several of us didn’t have dates. So we decided we were all dressed up looking pretty official. So we we snatched the fake Grenade out of the armory. We went up to West 38th Street by the vets hospital. And we started stopping traffic. And they stopped and said, Okay, go ahead. Go ahead. So the last car, the window went down, and we threw the hand grenade in my Granberry.

Listen, what year was that?

How long ago was that was in 1956?

You’re right. It was because you could not do that anymore without ending up in federal prison. Exactly. Man your life of crime before God

things awful. That’s why I’m so grateful.

Oh, man. All right. We’re lucky that you made it to us burning through one last question. What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

My wife? Yeah, yes. And the beauty of Arizona. We both had a chance to enjoy that for a couple years after my retirement. So yeah,

those two things kind of go together for you do Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Bernie. I so so appreciate you and the impact that you’ve had on my life, first of all, personally, but but also on our church. Like I said, it is hard to put into words, just how much you’ve affected things around here. So really appreciate you, brother and everyone who’s listening. If this was helpful, helpful to you, I would encourage you again to to like and subscribe, share, comment, do all those things so that we can reach more people. God bless you. Thanks again, Marie. Thank you