I sat in my car Monday morning in the church parking lot and stared at the stones in the columns on the west side of the new sanctuary. One said "1871" and one said "1991"—the founding of our church and the completion of our new sanctuary. As I looked at the 1991 stone, I said softly to myself with rising emotion: this building is going to be totally paid for this year. Which means that it will be paid for in its first five years.
Then I thought: what makes this even more remarkable is that a bomb fell on us in the middle of those five years and over 200 people left the church. Many who stayed were as wounded as those who left. With this remnant—and hundreds of reinforcements that God has called in to help (the attendance last Sunday was 1158)—God wrought a victory that is a marvel. Between March and October of this year you pledged $1,100,200 to finish paying off all the indebtedness of this church, including both the sanctuary and the land to the west that awaits paving for parking.
The plan of the Council of Elders was called Freeing the Future. The idea was to ask only for pledges (not cash) until the pledges equaled the amount of our debt. In this way we believed people would have the encouragement that when they gave their money they would know exactly what it would accomplish and when. Our aim, expressed during all the house meetings last February and March, was to receive $1,100,000 in pledges by October. On the morning of the first Sunday of October we were $18,000 short. By the end of the day we were $200 over. God has done it.
Freeing the Future was the major financial upshot of the Master Planning process that began in late 1994. The Master Planning Team spent about a year defining our Mission Statement, our Spiritual Dynamic, our Fresh Initiatives, our Values and our renewed commitment to 2000 by 2000. Then came the planning stage. Alongside the effort to pursue our new lead worshipper, the major planning effort was freeing the future from debt. The main reason was so that the budget of 1997 and beyond could be expanded for the sake of mission and ministry. That is what we will attempt now to do.
Very soon those who pledged will receive a letter stating the pledged amount. The letter will be written by Tim Johnson who has led us masterfully through this funding process (I love you, Tim. I thank God for you!), and the amount of your pledge will be written in by Paul Johnson who has kept the records (I love you too, Paul. Thanks for all the extra work!).
My heart is overflowing with thanks for the unspeakable kindness of our great God. I thank him for you in all my remembrance of you. I know this is going to pinch financially. God will provide. That is the promise of Philippians 4:19—"My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Now would you pray three wonderful prayers with me for the next several weeks?
- that God would complete the good resolves of our hearts in bringing the money in during October;
- that the mortgage paperwork would be completed by Thanksgiving Sunday; and
- that a lead worshipper would be chosen in time to fly in and participate in that great celebration Sunday of November 24.
Basking in the beauty of unmerited kindness from Christ,