I have worked long and hard on this letter and all that has worked up to its necessity. Please read it all. Thanks beforehand.
OUR FIRST COMMUNITY
The Lasting Supper was launched originally in 2012 as www.davidhayward.ca. After realizing that it just might work, I paid for some good advice from business people that I should change the name of the site to something more community minded as less David Hayward centric. I then paid for excellent help in planning and launching The Lasting Supper. Lots of time, effort, and funds were spent in the maintaining and development of the site to become what it is today. We have our podcasts, my letters, videos, forums, potluck hangouts, our dynamic Facebook group, and more.
As I wrote in Part 1 of this letter, there’s more to come in 2016, such as courses that I am developing that will provide hands on resources for people who want to work toward their spiritual independence.
This is all happening because of you. I consider it amazing the kind of people TLS attracts to make it the vibrant community that it’s become. I’ll admit that it isn’t perfect, but in my opinion, and in the opinion of many of you, it is getting there. I would say that TLS has proven it’s worth. Entering our fourth year, TLS is now a living, breathing, organism and a community that should be cared for, protected, and developed to become that perfect space we all envision it to be.
THE GOOD NEWS
TLS is now a vibrant community with over 300 total members. People are very happy with what we offer here – a protected community where people receive support for deconstructing and reconstructing our own religious and spiritual life. What started as a resource site to support people experiencing spiritual challenges and changes has now developed into more than that. It’s become a collective of friends as well. What’s so cool and unique about TLS is the diversity of the membership. We have everyone from church-going believers to never darken the doors of a church again atheists and everyone inbetween. More than this, each member shows the others a mutual respect and dignity rarely seen in such a diverse group. Unity in diversity works! I still intend to focus on the development of resources while we learn how to continue being the exciting community we’re becoming.
As TLS is structured today, it is a full-time job for me, but not a full-time income. I want to devote myself to sharing with, teaching, and supporting all of you full time. And I want to keep a roof over my head, too.
My original vision of TLS was that we would quickly grow to about 1,000 members. At $7/month, that would provide $7,000 month. This would cover the business costs of TLS and also pay me a salary so I could keep a roof over my head.
I also envisioned eventually paying others to help me develop resources and facilitate the community interactions on the forums and in our Facebook group. Then something unexpected – and wonderful – happened. The community interaction side of TLS – in particular, the Facebook group – exploded with energy and contributions from many of you. We all grow in this community, and I’m so glad that you all have it, and don’t have to struggle with deconstruction in isolation, which can be even more depressing, painful, and downright scary than deconstruction supported by caring friends.
Here is what I didn’t expect: When we reached about 200 people in the Facebook group, I realized that this caused a whole new level of care that took me all day every day to moderate. There was no way around it: moderation of the FB group became my full-time job.
That has created two challenges that I’ve been living inside of for all of 2015. Change needs to happen, as these challenges are growing into crises. The first challenge is that growth of TLS, both making new materials (such as courses for you) and bringing in new members, has ground to a halt. Working full time on the FB forum, I don’t have time to do this other work. And, as much as I like the community relationships, I love creating courses and writing books as well. So I’m not getting to do all that I love.
The second challenge is financial. About 200 people at $7/month is only $1,400 monthly income. Half of that goes to maintenance and development, the business costs of TLS. So, right now, I’m in the impractical – not to say impossible – situation of earning only $700/month.
Since TLS takes all of my work time and is my primary source of income, the current situation obviously much change. On top of that, the emotional depth of our work requires an attentive moderator every day, or things can explode quickly. That’s made vacations difficult. It got to the point where I didn’t have a life any more, and my burnout is not good for TLS or for any of us. I’m not complaining. But I did reach a point where I had to consider closing TLS.
I’m not going to do that. This is all worth it. TLS is a great community for me, and it offers great value to its members. The question is: How do we make it work? How can TLS be a financially viable business that covers its own costs and gives me a balanced life while also being a great service?
THE GOAL AND COMMITMENT
I want to recover. I want to restore my passion, energy, and joy in doing what I love to do, that is helping people become spiritually independent and enjoying a community of supportive friends.
After talking with my many mentors, our facilitators, and a cross section of TLS members, we’ve come up with a solution that we are all happy with and excited about. We are going to take several steps so that TLS grows and provides more for all of you, and also provides me with the income I need to run TLS and do what I love – teaching and sharing with you – full time.
- I will focus on growing great new content for TLS members, increasing the value of your membership. You can learn all about that in Part 1 of this message, The Lasting Supper Growing in 2016: Part 1: Great New Stuff.
- There will be a small price increase. New members joining from now on will pay $15/month. Current members will have some options. If you’re a current member, please look here: The Price Increase: How it will work for existing members and then go to the Membership Renewal Page: Membership Renewal Page.
- TLS is both a community and also a business. As a community, we value transparency. If you want to understand more about why the price increase is necessary, please read The Price Increase: Why it is necessary
- The more people who benefit from TLS the better. I’ve been learning a lot about how to grow community that I’ll be implementing in 2016. I’m sharing my thoughts in A Bit About Our Growth Plan
I want to make sure everyone hears about how TLS is growing and, of course, about the price increase. So, please forgive me in advance if you get more than one notification about these changes. We’ll get it all sorted and you’ll be seeing great new stuff soon.
Thanks for being you!