Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Not About the $$ Money $$

One of the comments I received in my survey had to do with churches always asking for money.  I view money as a necessary resource.  It's that way in my home.  It's that way in business and it's certainly that way in the church.  I do agree that when churches focus on money, there is a great distraction from the worship and work of the church.  I know of many churches that have faced building projects and capital stewardship campaigns that have seemed to be very burdensome for the members.

Hopedale Baptist Church is in the position of needing to grow.  Although the church was in a very rural area when it was started nearly 125 years ago, today it is on some pretty prime commercial property.  Consequently, the land around us is very expensive.  Anytime they price acreage by the square foot, you know that it is expensive.  You may recall from a recent post that Hopedale purchased an adjacent piece of property with its building for $1.2 million.

As is often the case in church life, actions like the purchase of this building and property are actions of great faith.  The church, after much study and prayerful consideration, came to the conclusion that it is God's will for us to acquire the property in order to continue to grow and glorify His name in our community.  Believing that God will provide (through His people) the resources to pay for the building, we bought it.

I know that buying the property and then figuring out how to pay for it seems backwards in the business world.  But that is what we did.

The purchase was followed by a capital stewardship campaign.  For those not familiar with capital stewardship campaigns in churches, they are basically fund raising projects.  Pastor Terry's approach to these types of projects is different than most.  He approaches stewardship from a total giving of ourselves to God.  Throughout the campaign, money wasn't emphasized at all.  I believe that the messages helped each of us to grow spiritually.  Along with that spiritual growth comes the maturity to trust God with the things (time, abilities and money) that He has entrusted to our care.  In the end, each family was asked to prayerfully consider a regular gift (above their regular tithes and offerings) to be given over a three year period.  These commitment cards were turned in two weeks ago.  Then last week we gave the "first fruits" of our pledges.  These initial offerings were designated for the remodeling of the building to accommodate the needs of our church.  

At this point, I need to say that Hopedale is not a really big church.  Our Sunday School attendance is generally between 220-250.  Total Sunday morning worship attendance is less than 400.  Nor is Hopedale an affluent church.  We are pretty much American Middle Class.

The faith and generosity of these people truly amazes me.  The three year faith commitments totalled $546,995.00.  The "first fruits" collected last Sunday (in addition to regular tithes and offerings) was $92,462.50!  Our giving is a vital part of our worship.

I didn't hear (or hear about) a single complaint or negative comment during the weeks of the campaign.  This is the best group of believers!  Right now we are having a blast working for the glory of God.  New believers are joining the family and being baptized nearly every week.  We love coming to worship together and love to hang out with each other.  For all of the faults of the church and her people...there is no place that I'd rather be and no people that I'd rather be around.  

Again, I would encourage you to trust God.  Don't make the mistake of judging God by the actions of men.  

God is good.
All the time.

John <><


Mike said...

"$1.2 million"

That's a lot of frozen pizza to sell.

Claudia said...

When our church had its capital campaign almost two years ago, we decided we should make our pledge in one lump sum while we had the cash. Am I ever glad we did! Because come people made their pledges in stocks, our figure of monies collected to date has dropped considerably from what we had first anticipated. But we've had things happen that have lowered the costs for what we thought we wanted to get done. For example, we're saving about $40,000 because the Engineer for the city of Crestwood would not ok our parking lot expansion plan. Another example: We revised our original plan for adding a narthex with a fancier entrance by going with a less expensive but just as welcoming entrance, saving another $40,000. Now we hope to remodel the kitchen, especially to include a dishwasher, and if we'd done the parking lot expansion and fancier narthex, we wouldn't have been able to do it. So have fun! We are! You'll be surprised at what comes and goes from your plans in the process of making improvements!

Claudia said...

Another blessing re: money & church. You may or may not know that Mike is very into Habitat for Humanity. This year he's taking on even more, and not just for our church alone. Without he or I saying anything like "we need donations," our youth group has decided to do a car wash for Habitat. This makes us SO happy! The Holy Spirit in action! BTW--Sorry I missed meeting your kids the other day at Ted Drewes'.