Reflecting on Our First Year as a Non-Profit Ministry || 2018 Annual Report

Christian Women with Bibles | 2018 Annual Report for Living by Design Ministries

Article By: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries

When we made the decision to become a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry so we could continue to offer our online Bible studies free of charge, we knew we were taking a big risk.

Would people see the value of what we are trying to accomplish and join us in the work?

Would we be able to raise enough support to build a sustainable ministry? Would I be able to manage the complexities of running a non-profit ministry while also continuing to manage our blog and write Bible studies?

While some of these questions remain unanswered, I am humbled by the support we’ve received since launching Living by Design Ministries in January of 2018.

Your prayers.
Your donations.
Your encouragement.

They are what made our first year as a non-profit ministry a success!

I wish I could have you all over for coffee, squeeze your necks, and share all the amazing stories of God’s provision and direction in the past year.

People’s lives are being changed all over the world because of Living by Design Ministries, and this small-town girl can hardly believe it. My heart is bursting with gratitude and overwhelmed by the magnitude of this important work God has called us to.

I’m not going to lie to you. This work is not easy.

The enemy has been ruthless in his attacks against my family, our volunteer team, and even our computer (yes, it died a horrible, sudden death and took my first draft of our fall Bible study to the grave with it).

But even so, we see God’s hand of comfort, provision, and protection in our lives. And we are trusting that He is using ALL OF IT (even the tough stuff) for our good and His glory!

Whenever we are growing weary, we receive an unexpected note or donation that lifts our spirits and encourages us to carry on.

{Click Here to View our 2018 Annual Report}

My heart is bursting with gratitude and overwhelmed by the magnitude of this important work God has called us to.Click to Tweet
Christian Woman in a Field with Her Bible | 2018 Annual Report for Living by Design Ministries

Learning How to Ask for Help

It has taken me nearly a year, but I’ve finally figured out how to explain what I do for Living by Design Ministries in one sentence.

I spend my days helping others and asking others for help.

That, sweet friends, is what ministry life is all about!

Helping and asking. Asking and helping. Two very different sides of the same coin.

In order for me to dedicate my life to helping others, I must humbly ask people like you to join us in our mission to “Feed God’s Sheep” through our free online Bible studies.

I can give my time, talents, and tenacity to this ministry.

But without the faithful support of our volunteers and donors, there is absolutely no way we could have released three free Bible studies in 2018.

Yes! We did it. We launched three Bible studies last year!

And all three of these studies are offered to our readers all around the world at no charge.

I can hardly believe it.

What an incredible victory for God’s kingdom.

In order for me to dedicate my life to helping others, I must humbly ask people like you to join us in our mission to Feed God's Sheep through our free online Bible studies.Click to Tweet
Christian women praying at a coffee shop | 2018 Annual Report for Living by Design, a non-profit ministry

Grateful for God’s Generous Provision

Whether you’ve made a financial donation, committed to pray for us, voiced interest in our support team, shared our studies with friends, or volunteered to help—you are an integral part of this ministry.

I’ve lost track of the conversations I’ve had with my husband (who also serves on the Living by Design Board of Directors) that go something like this:

Weren’t we just talking about how we needed “xyz” last week, and look! God has provided. This is so humbling. Why do we worry? He knows our needs and He has a plan and a purpose for this ministry. We just have to be faithful and trust Him to guide and provide.

With our generous matching donations, successful t-shirt fundraiser, and exciting Giving Tuesday campaign, we surpassed our fundraising goals for the year.

This unexpected influx of funds in the fourth quarter allowed us to build up our savings account, plan for future expenses, and begin paying a small portion of staff salaries.

But it’s not just the money that has our leadership team rejoicing.

God has also seen fit to bring an army of qualified volunteers into our ranks.

Our prayer team.
Our creative team.
Our writing team.
Our pastoral council.
Our board members.

Volunteers are the most valuable resource this ministry has; I consider it a privilege to serve alongside them day-in and day-out.

{Click Here to View our 2018 Annual Report}

Volunteers are the most valuable resource this ministry has; I consider it a privilege to serve alongside them day-in and day-out.Click to Tweet
Christian Women on a couch reading bibles | 2018 Annual Report for Living by Design, a non-profit ministry

Why We Exist and What We Do

Over the past several months, God has clarified His purpose for this ministry in my heart. He has shown me the ONE thing we are ALL about.

It can be summed up in two words: Bible Literacy.

Everything we do at Living by Design is motivated by our desire to build a bridge between God’s people and God’s Word.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32

There is freedom to be found in the truth-filled pages of our Bibles.

Yet they often remain on our shelves collecting dust while we try to tackle life’s problems in our own strength.

I don’t say this to condemn, just to inform.

This is a spiritual battle. The enemy doesn’t want us to know the truth, nor does he want us to experience freedom. His most effective strategy is to keep us busy, distracted, and disconnected from God’s Word.

The statistics are truly compelling!

According to the Barna Research Group, only 20% of churchgoers read their Bibles regularly, and 58% of all adults wished they read the Bible more often.

They also found that more than half of users now search for Bible content on the internet (57%) or a smartphone (55%), and another 42 percent use a Bible app on their phones.

This number has steadily increased since 2011 and shows no signs of slowing down.

This number is why our ministry exists!

This number is why our readership nearly doubled in 2018.

Everything we do at Living by Design is motivated by our desire to build a bridge between God's people and God's Word.Click to Tweet

Strategy & Synergy are Key Growth Factors

I believe the reason for our growth is three-fold:

1. We are meeting a need within the Christian community.
2. We are creating resources that are easy for people to access.
3. Our readers are supporting us financially and sharing our studies.

Are you familiar with the concept of synergy?

It goes something like this…

1+1+1 equals a whole lot more than 3

Our ministry team can accomplish numbers one and two on our own, but without your help achieving number three, there is no synergy.

Sadly, 1+1 just equals 2.

This is a painfully humbling reality I face every single day.

I can write. I can strategize. I can lead. But the growth, the reach, and the impact of our ministry are 100% beyond my ability to control.

Praise the Lord!

I don’t have to carry this burden on my own and I can’t take the credit for it when our community grows and thrives.

God has a beautiful way of protecting us (from pride) and binding us together with other believers, doesn’t He?

God has faithfully provided for our needs thus far, and we are confident He will continue to do so in the new year.

God has faithfully provided for our needs thus far, and we are confident He will continue to do so in the new year.Click to Tweet
Everything we do at our non-profit ministry is motivated by our desire to build a bridge between God's people and God's Word. The heartbeat of our ministry is offering free online Bible studies. But they aren’t really free. Each of our free Bible studies cost more than $5,000 to develop and distribute. In order to continue to freely give our Bible studies away, we have to humbly ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to faithfully support the mission and vision of Living by Design Ministries.

An Invitation to Partner with us in 2019

At Living by Design Ministries, we believe God’s Word is the only source of absolute truth in a world that praises tolerance and ambiguity. That is why we strive to deliver biblically accurate, relatable, story-driven content to our readers each week.

The heartbeat of our ministry is offering free online Bible studies. But they aren’t really free. Each of our free Bible studies cost more than $5,000 to develop and distribute. In order to continue to freely give our Bible studies away, we have to humbly ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to faithfully support the mission and vision of Living by Design Ministries.

We are looking for members of our online community to partner with us so that we can grow with the need and continue to proclaim Jesus to a hurting world. Below you will see a three-fold challenge for all who are willing to take a step in our direction and say, “Yes, I want to partner with you in your mission to ‘Feed God’s Sheep’ (Jn. 21:17).”:

GIVE: When you give a financial gift to Living by Design Ministries, you are helping us reach women with the spiritual nourishment they crave. Every dollar donated helps five people receive free Bible study material in their inbox. {Make a Donation}

PRAY: Our job is to make it easier than ever for women to open their Bibles. We need your help in praying a hedge of protection around all our study participants, staff, and volunteers. {Visit our Prayer Wall}

GROW: Grow with us by participating in our free online Bible studies and help us grow by sharing our free resources with your friends online. {Start a New Study}

If you feel God leading you to “GIVE, PRAY, GROW” with us, please let our team know so we can add you to our quarterly support team update e-mail list.

During our first year as a non-profit organization, Living by Design reached hundreds of thousands of people with our uplifting, Bible-centered articles and free studies.Click to Tweet

During our first year as a non-profit organization, we reached hundreds of
thousands of people with our uplifting, Bible-centered articles and free studies.

With your help, we can cultivate the resources we need to reach more people
with the only food that sustains—the Bible!

Living by Design Ministries is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  All donations are tax-deductible. 501(c)3 public charities are highly regulated entities. Strict rules apply to both the activities and the governance of these organizations. No part of the activities or the net earnings can unfairly benefit any director, officer, or any private individual.

About the Author: Sarah Koontz

About the Author: Sarah Koontz

Sarah Koontz is the founder of Living by Design Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to deliver free Bible Studies to inboxes around the world. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah and her husband Ryan live on thirteen acres in the heart of the Black Hills, SD. They have two beautiful daughters, a rowdy flock of chickens, and two cats. Sarah is an avid gardener, a faithful coffee drinker, lover of one-pot-dinners, and an unexpected homeschooler.

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Proceeds of this fundraiser will help cover the costs of our next free Bible study entitled, “DWELL: 360 Days in the Word.” (Releasing January 2020)