Unstoppable is the word that comes to mind when you look at the early days of the church. Conflict and controversy threatened to take down the young group but, instead of destroying it, the challenges fueled the fire that spread across the first-century landscape.
And now, in these challenging times, we are reminded of our mission through the following stories from Lake Union department leaders what being the Church is really about — God’s people doing God’s work together by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have the privilege of being a part of the Lake Union Conference Treasury team. We work well together and are a blessing as we minister with caring hearts. One of my responsibilities is Stewardship but I am not alone when it comes to Stewardship because each of my Treasury co-workers stands and serves with me. We have presented at camp meetings and Sabbath services in churches. We use our individual abilities to answer questions when people call the office. Elder Glynn Scott is our leader and Richard Moore, Vicki Thompson and I serve as his associates.
Of the four of us, Richard Moore is our expert on church budgeting and capital stewardship campaigns. The following story, told by Jerryn Schmidt, pastor of the Urbandale Church, is a witness to the effectiveness of the sound stewardship principles he uses when it comes to reducing debt and freeing up dollars for ministry at the local church:
“When I began pastoring the Urbandale Church in 2017, I was troubled by the prospect of replacing the aging parking lot. At first, I ignored the problem. I mean, what could we do when only $20,000 had been raised over the last 15 years for a project that would cost well over $100,000? But the parking lot would not be ignored, and the subject kept resurfacing in various church committee meetings.
“In May 2019, I heard a presentation by Richard Moore on capital fundraising campaigns. I wondered, ‘Could this work in Urbandale, would my church members partner with me on this new venture?’ They were willing and voted with an overwhelming majority to embark by faith on an unknown journey of sacrifice and commitment.
“Our capital fundraising campaign began with prayer. In October 2019, the elders invited the members to gather prayer requests in anticipation of a 24-hour prayer service. Members came to the church at various hours to pray . . . all through the day and all through the night! The prayer service was a spiritual highlight — some members came to pray for an hour and ended up staying two or three because the Spirit of God was moving as we prayed for one another. Prayers were answered even before the service concluded!
“The church then stepped out in faith and secured a loan from the Lake Union Revolving Fund for $101,500. God’s leading was unmistakable! The loan process (which normally takes weeks) was completed speedily, and within days we had a check in our hands! This paved the way for the new parking lot to be poured before cold weather set in.
“In November, the church gathered for a special banquet. Our campaign motto was: ‘Not Equal Giving but Equal Sacrifice.’ Members were asked to commit to sacrificial giving for a period of three years with a goal of $300,000 to fund three levels of improvement: a new parking lot and church sign, remodeling the bathrooms, and a church security system with new keyless locks. At the banquet alone, over $130,000 in pledges were made. This was only the beginning!
“In January we received $37,000 from Michigan Advance Partners and when combined with other significant donations and pledges, it placed us tantalizingly close to our $300,000 campaign goal. This was an incredible answer to prayer, but it didn’t stop there! By the end of January our $101,500 loan only had a balance of $10,000 and was completely paid off by the end of May 2020, one year from the time I had heard Richard Moore’s presentation.
“I’m glad that we followed God’s leading to embark on the project quickly as it would have been challenging to embark on such a journey during the uncertainty of COVID. God has been good and giving has remained strong throughout this time. We are now preparing to put in a new church sign!”
Jon Corder, Stewardship director, Lake Union Conference