Everything Watermark Community Church does flows from its name.
It’s about authenticity. You put watermarks on higher valued currencies to prove they are genuine.
It’s about leaving a lasting impression on the surrounding community. When water stays at a certain point for a long period of time, it leaves a mark for a prolonged time afterward.
It’s about excellence. Fine paper includes a watermark to demonstrate its quality, and a document’s authenticity.
Church Excellence and the Finance Team
But the kind of ministry excellence Watermark pursues isn’t just limited to what you see on the stage each weekend. It’s not just about excellence in preaching, in worship, or even in the church’s community ministries. Watermark is also committed to excellence behind the scenes—from how it manages its campuses to how it manages its money and beyond: Aspects of their ministry no one gets to regularly see.
“I could not imagine a church functioning without the finance staff, without the operations staff, and all the other teams that work behind the scenes,” says Caitlin Van Wagoner, Watermark’s director of communications. “They are the engine of Watermark. They work behind the scenes. They work with humility. They work to get things done, and no one really ever knows. People don’t really know until something goes wrong. To do their job with excellence means they never get noticed, but this church could not function without them.”
Stewarding God’s Money
Watermark’s finance team realizes that excellence means handling what the church has been given efficiently and effectively. Excellence means good stewardship.
“Here are the principles that my team kind of lives and dies by,” says Brett Billman, who Watermark recently hired from the corporate world to lead the church’s finance team. “Number one, be operationally efficient. Number two, be flexible not frustrated. Finally, be a problem solver, not a problem identifier.”
For example, with a church of more than 15,000 attending three campuses weekly, preparing annual giving statements can get expensive—usually between $4,000 to $5,000 every year. While it’s important that the church faithfully reports the giving it receives, that’s money that could have been spent elsewhere on ministry initiatives that tie closer to its mission.
The church needed a digital giving solution that could not only be more efficient for the church staff to administer, but also made giving easier for donors.
The Watermark team knew most of their givers make financial transactions on the go. Any giving solution they used had to provide an excellent mobile-giving experience. The church’s donors were hardly digital novices. They paid bills, made vacation reservations, and communicated with family and friends online. They were accustomed to using mobile apps like Amazon, eBay, and others on a regular basis. A poor digital giving solution wouldn’t demonstrate excellence—and donors likely wouldn’t use it.
Pushpay became the clear choice.
“It seems more than ever today it’s more about convenience,” says Greg Crooks, the church’s executive pastor. “This transition in our giving platform has just made things easier for people. With your phone, when you’re sitting down, you can give; it’s an easier and smoother platform.”
Better Stewardship Resources Community Projects
The first year after transitioning to Pushpay, the church decreased costs associated with producing annual giving statements by 90 percent (from about $4,000 to about $400). Plus, more than 70 percent of the church’s givers now give digitally.
“I think that the advantage of digital is that it makes you more efficient, and it makes giving easier so that on the back end, we can maximize discipleship,” Caitlin says.
Thanks to the money it’s saving through Pushpay features like Annual Giving Statements, Watermark is able to help its three campuses partner with local ministries to serve more than 1,300 households in West Dallas through a large food pantry, training classes, Bible studies, and a clinic.