Leilani Sizemore is the Executive Pastor at Creekside Church, a church plant in the heart of North Paulding, one of the fastest-growing counties in Northwest Atlanta.
Creekside Church exists to glorify God and make disciples by radically loving and simply equipping.
Leilani and her husband Gregg, the lead pastor, both worked in churches and church plant organizations before starting Creekside in 2019.
“I used to be an employee of BELAY a long time ago, so that lead me to be a client once my husband and I started our own church,” Leilani says.
When Leilani joined the staff at Creekside Church full-time and started working behind the scenes, she realized that the company they were currently using was costing them more money than BELAY would.
“I knew we could [sign] on to BELAY for a much better cost,” Leilani explains. “I knew the quality of the work, and, for me, having an outsourced bookkeeping slash accounting firm do our books creates a level of accountability that I wanted.
“[Our] staff [were originally] doing our books. That’s not transparent enough, I don’t think, especially for a church or nonprofit. So I wanted to be able to say we outsource our bookkeeping.
“Obviously for me, the choice was to go to BELAY.”
And when Leilani was on the other side of the BELAY experience, she describes it as ‘seamless.’
“You guys are experts,” Leilani says. “I knew that. You’ve had so many years of working with churches and nonprofits. It was so easy to onboard. The process was super simple for me.”
Enter BELAY Accounting Specialist Wendy Poe.
Wendy has been with Creekside since three months into their launch.
“Wendy has just been incredible,” Leilani says. “She’s super easy to work with, super knowledgable, and if she doesn’t know something, she quickly researches and gets back to me. It’s been amazing to work with her.”
Wendy learned what works best for Leilani by taking things off her plate from the beginning.
“[Everything] runs without me having to think about it too much,” Leilani says. “That was a big relief for me.”
One of Leilani’s main stressors was keeping up with all of her staff’s receipt tracking, and Wendy was able to research and suggest a new platform for them to try.
“It’s going to be cost-effective to us, which is important to me as stewardship of the church is a main, top priority,” Leilani says. “Wendy is really good at always suggesting things she thinks will make my life easier and is also cost-effective for our church.”
Wendy’s honest and direct communication has been a good fit for Leilani and Creekside Church.
“She lets me know, ‘Hey, this is a big pain point, and I think we could do it differently,’” Leilani says. “She's very honest and direct and I'm the same, and it works well together.”
“I'm not just looking at what our church needs while it's in the tiny early phases of its life,” Leilani says. “What does it look like when our budget gets a little crazier than it is now?
“Wendy is helping us shift to a fiscal year this year. I just knew that she would have the [qualities] I needed, not just for right now, but for the future as we grow and scale into what God has for us next.”
Honesty and transparency for a church’s finances are huge to Leilani, and BELAY’s Accounting Services have been able to help her have peace of mind.
“Stewardship and transparency in a church are of utmost importance,” Leilani says. “I want our people to know, and anyone who asks, that we have an outside board who helps us make financial decisions, and we have an outside accounting and bookkeeping firm that handles all of the transactions. So that Gregg and I can say, ‘Here's what we do to make sure that we steward God's resources well.’
“For me, that's the biggest thing. It's given me such peace of mind and the ability to say, with honesty and transparency, here's how our church is run.”
Leilani is looking forward to watching Wendy grow and scale alongside Creekside Church.
“She can make really clear decisions. For me, that has just been a huge benefit. I've got someone who has no emotional tie to Creekside Church whatsoever looking out for our best interest.
“In the early stages of a church, it's more just maintenance and keep getting things off the ground.
“Now Wendy's expertise is gonna get to shine because she’s sharp, and I count on her wisdom and knowledge to help keep us out of deep waters that I don't know about because I don't have her level of expertise.
“So I'm pumped to get to see her in action. Just seeing the ease and confidence with which she approaches all of these things gives me a lot of comfort.”