Proverbs 14 teaches us that there is a difference between submitting to God's leading and following man's logic. Rarely are the decisions that seem most logical or the actions that make us most comfortable the same as the decisions and actions that God would desire us to take in any given situation. I think we as a church are on the precipice of time where we will be free to be open to following God's leading; or instead be shackled by decisions that make us most comfortable, and the fiscal actions that insure us an institution. As I, like so many others, in this church family look on the potential usage of this gift from God I am reminded of the parable of the talents. This gift enables us as a church to make 5 talent decisions. This gift challenges us to invest into the kingdom of God in ways that will bear greater fruit for our master's kingdom. I dream of a future where this money is poured out into the lives of those scripture clearly teaches are closest to the heart of God. I pray that we will enlist these dollars to greater acts of service rather than bury them as asset lines on our church financial reports. I pray that these dollars will earn fruit for the kingdom rather than interest from a bank. I pray these funds will deliver the dividends of God's redemption in the lives of our neighbors, rather than the dividends of stock certificates and bonds.
I have heard several plans that I want to address directly before I share my vision to how we submit this to the service of Christ.
Building Projects - It has been stated to me that our foundation is crumbling, our a/c is on the fritz, our boilers need to be replaced, and that our roof is in serious need of repair. In the same vein our worship productions guys could make a case for a bigger projector, upgraded cordless microphones, a digital audio encoder, a better computer with better software, and additional spotlights with digital controllers. Our Sunday School teachers desire a more fully stocked and better functioning resource room, technology aides to augment the educational experience, better classroom lighting, and newer classroom paint. On the list could go with these building projects. We all know how the things we own can own us. Although these are all legitimate needs to improve the form and function of our building, I believe that the form and function serve as a distraction for the church rather than as an attraction to the world. Jesus' desire for us to store up treasures in heaven is as valid of a command in our community goal setting as it is in our individual lives. These kinds of priorities will consume this gift because the material things of this world continue to degrade as time passes on.
Interest Bearing Investments - I have heard other considerations of investing these funds into a series of interest bearing accounts. The proponents of this idea claim these accounts would provide a solid future for the congregation as they would bear new funds indefinitely. Although I as well as anyone else can see the logical benefit of a $40,000 a year cash stream. However, I am reminded of story between Jehosphat King of Judah and Ahab King of Israel. Jehosphat knew that Ahab was wicked and yet his own desire for power and pride among the kings caused him to enter in a military alliance with this evil king. The result of the alliance was that Jehosphat was shamed for his trust in the military power of Ahab rather than on the provision of God. In Isaiah 31 the Lord proclaims an curse against Israel for their reliance on Egypt for military protection. God reminds Israel as he reminds us that he is the mighty lion who devours the powers of this world. Our congregation relying on banks and financial planners for it's protection and future is the same reliance as Israel allying itself to be a vassal kingdom of Egypt. Establishing a congregational endowment would place our future in the powers and principalities of the enemy rather than in the sovereign protection of her King.
So then how do we respond when faced with a decision of such gravity. I think we follow the lead of Esther in her dealings with the king. We must invite the Lord into our midst and host a banquet in his honor. I believe we need to host a night of fellowship, surrender, and praise, and prayer. Esther began her request of the King with a meal. I believe we should gather as a body and eat together. It should be a festive meal, holiday like in it's splendor, and we should eat it together as a body. Next we must surrender ourselves to the King's favor. In Esther's case she stated, "If I have found favor with you, O king." In our case I believe we should surrender ourselves to God by having a time of confessional prayer. As we ask God's guidance we must be clean of our hidden sins. I think we should divide into 2 groups based by gender and have a time of true surrendering and confession. This time should be designed to ensure participation by all members from our teens through of most senior members. After we surrender ourselves to God through a period of confessional prayer and repentance I believe we must next gather together for a time of prayerful praise. Finally, after we have fellowshipped, surrendered, and worship then we would inquire as to God's leading for the usage of this gift in the furtherance of his kingdom.
I do not believe it is possible for us as the family to make any decision until we have entered a covenant with him together as a community to follow his Spirit and his power in this time. We can decide to be a 5 talent church, but only if we unite together as one body in surrendering our will, vision, and dreams and following only the clear evident leadings of the Holy Spirit after we have sought that as a Body.
I love each of you, and thank you for your leadership here at Cardinal Drive.
Kevin J. Bowman
Please let me know what you think!