Family Meeting Summary

I meant to do this post last week as a follow up to our our congregational meeting of 6/23/13. Best laid plans. Better late than never.

If you missed the meeting for whatever reason, here is a summary of what we covered:

Budget Update
Presently we are are roughly $35,000 down relative to what we had budgeted and forecasted for giving for the year-to-date.  The good news is that we are mindful of these things and in terms of what we have spent year-to- date we are only $4,000 behind giving.  That said, it is never our desire to be behind in giving relative to the budget and certainly not our desire to be behind relative to our actual expenses.  Please remember our church in all your giving and be mindful of us during all your summer travel plans. I am pleased to report that yesterday’s giving met our weekly budget requirements, even with a special love offering for Greg and Christina. Thanks be to God. Still, we will continue to watch carefully the numbers . If necessary, we will take a hard look at where we can cut the budget. We will keep you posted.

Capital Campaign Update
Our three-year capital campaign, which came to an end in May, was a huge success!  94% of what was pledged was received ($224k received of $239k pledged).  In addition, the efforts to receive outside funds and non-pledged monies was also fruitful, yielding $117k in additional monies to retire our debt.  63% of all pledged givers gave at least 75% of what they pledged and many gave 100% or more of their pledged gift.  A huge thank you to all the people that gave sacrificially above and beyond their tithe to help in this fashion. Leadership plans to bring a proposal to us in the future for debt retirement, but we are waiting a bit on that so as not to be a church always in capital campaign mode that wears people out.
Worship Music Transition Update
As the elders faced the prospect of losing Greg from the mix, several considerations came into play. Given a variety of factors affecting the possible folks within the body who might have assumed responsibility for this important ministry and the budget constraints, it became clear to us that Susan Woods was God’s provision for the role. For this we remain very grateful. That being said, we recognize that change brings challenges. We ask that we all be patient with the process. Also, we have built into the transition feedback loops so as to ensure regular evaluation about how things are going. Part of that includes an option for Susan to withdrawal at the three-month mark, if the fit proves unacceptable for her and her family. Furthermore we recognize that we have a need for more musicians to join the mix, particularly at guitar and in leading. We are working on trying to pull others into the team. Finally, we exhort all of us to embrace the opportunity for maintaining a peacemaking ethic in the way we navigate dealing with what arguably can prove pretty tricky for churches. Music preferences often vary greatly in any congregation. We have an opportunity to defer to one another. Let us speak the truth in love as we engage one another in conversation about things. Please refrain from jumping to conclusions about any matters pertaining to the transition. If you have a comment or question, please address them to your elder. We will be glad to help in any way we can. A meeting of the worship team itself has been called for July 13 where I and another elder will meet with the members to discuss the process and pray together for God’s favor. I made this statement in that meeting and I want to repeat it here. I am almost as interested in the success of this transition as I am in what will be revealed in our hearts by the way we deal with it. I constantly battle making my ministry an idol. I want things to go well. When we hit turbulence, my reactions sometimes reveal my demanding, sinful heart. I/we need to be vigilant over our hearts as we seek to come together as a church to see what God has in mind for our worship and music ministry in the days ahead.
So on all three counts – the operational budget, debt retirement, and our music transition, please join me in praying for God’s favor, wisdom, and direction. Many thanks.

12 Months & Counting

Don’t you just hate it when billboards display outdated info? Some event stays logged on the sign for all to see when in reality it happened days, even weeks ago? Bugs the tar out of me. I am so easily perturbed.

I refused to let that happen yesterday after our groundbreaking celebration.

I cornered our contractor after the ceremony.

“OK, Dave, give the straight scoop. How long before we get in this thing?” I asked. He never even blinked. “One year,” he replied.

Say no more. I shot over to the office and pulled the new letters for our sign.

Come March 6, we’ll do it again with eleven. April 6, ten. And so on until we start to count the days in 2012. Won’t that be sweet?

If per chance you missed the groundbreaking for some reason, we still have vials of soil with a commemorative label on them from the event. We’ll have them at the SDA this Sunday if you want to pick one up.

If you missed the service as well, the message from Matthew 7:7-11 is now on the website. You can access the audio here. I would urge all covenant members to make a point to listen to this message entitled Each One Seek One. In it I made an application challenge for our people aimed at closing the $100,000 gap in our capital fund raising campaign for the building.

My thanks to all who labored so hard to make yesterday such a moving and special event. We won’t soon forget it. Lord willing, only twelve months to go before we get to experience the even greater thrill with the dedication of our new church home.

I’ve already started dreaming potential plans for that weekend! Wonder how busy Mr. Stanfill and his group will be around that time?

Second Capital Campaign Effort

This week our office sent out 95 appeals to people who used to attend OGC to consider contributing toward our capital campaign for our new building.

David Sims, one of our original founders and elders, graciously agreed to write this letter on our behalf.

In each letter we included one of our campaign brochures, a commitment card, and a return envelope for the convenience of the recipient.

A lot of folks have passed through OGC’s doors over the years. Many have fond memories of their time here and hold the ministry in high regard.

Will you pray with me that God works through this effort? Our leadership team would feel even more comfortable about moving ahead with the project if this effort would yield at least another $100K toward the project to keep our debt-to-loan ratio as low as possible.

May Eph. 3:20-21 be the standard upon which we pray as we continue to wait upon God for His provision in our faith efforts.

Encouraging Words for Strategic Leaders in Kingdom Work

Our five week capital fund campaign for our building has come to an end.

The image above was taken by one of our folks on the property this morning as we gathered for a prayer service at 9:30 AM. What a sweet time we had in the relative cool of the morning!

Tonight we meet at the SDA for a celebratory meal and report of what God has done. Whatever the outcome, He is good, all the time.

The closing message from Haggai 2:20-23 is now on the web. You can listen to it here.

Here is how I summarized the sermon and made application to our church:

So clearly this prophecy to Zerubbabel had unique application and fulfillment to him and through him to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It was designed for his encouragement from two angles: God’s intention most thoroughly to abase the nations of the world through a cosmic and historical shaking of events soon to come and His intention most assuredly on that day of visitation to exalt the Leader (I made it capital on purpose as pointing to Jesus, the Messiah) of His people. So whatever comes church, however much we raise in these commitments, whenever we get a building and subsequent phases if God blesses, wherever we seek to engage peoples everywhere for pursuing ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, let us leader and follower alike take courage, be strong, keep working, go on believing that God will most certainly do whatever it takes to accomplish His kingdom purposes. Jesus will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15).

If per chance you were not able to attend the service today and would still like to give your campaign pledge/gift, you may send it to our offices at any time.

Another huge step toward making a permanent home for OGC now lies behind us. May God give us continued grace to run the race set before us and not grow weary. He most certainly will do whatever it takes to accomplish His kingdom purposes.

Lessons from Another Capital Campaign in the Past

Tomorrow marks the conclusion of our five-week capital fund campaign toward the end of raising commitments totaling $500,000 or more toward the building of our facility.

As we anticipate the exciting events of this memorable Lord’s Day, arguably one of the most important days in the history of OGC, consider with me some lessons from another capital campaign in the lives of God’s people in the past.

First Chronicles 29:1-9 describes the stunning freewill offerings made by the Jews in response to David’s call to the people to consecrate themselves to the Lord in giving to the construction of Solomon’s temple. The people gave with such whole-hearted generosity that they and David alike rejoiced greatly (v. 9).

Quite beside himself with delight, David does what any God-centered leader should do on such a momentous occasion – he prays. You might not find a more God-centered prayer in all the Bible in vv. 10-19.

10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. 15 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.  16 O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. 18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19 Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”

From David’s prayer, and the people’s response in vv. 20-22, I see four things for us to keep in mind as we gather together tomorrow to see what God will do in the conclusion of our capital campaign.

  1. Acknowledge with thanks that everything belongs to God (10-13). David overflows with praise in the midst of the peoples’ giving acknowledging that all that is in the heavens and in the earth is His (11). As was the case with this version of God’s people in the past, so shall it be with us tomorrow that we must respond, whatever the outcome, this way: we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name (13). I fully intend after the presentation of our gifts and pledges contained in our envelopes (available tomorrow on the resource table in the entryway) for us to sing the Doxology – Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
  2. Remember with humility that generosity comes from God (14-16). David thinks very little of himself or the people in terms of the generosity on display remembering that all things, including the grace of giving, come from God in the first place (14). Furthermore, as strangers and pilgrims soon passing from earth’s scene, we have no room to boast before God (15). If we near, make, or even exceed our goal tomorrow, it will be only because God Himself graced us to do so.
  3. Consider with prayer that devotion depends upon God (17-19). David knows that raising funds for the temple served as God’s test for the people as to the nature of their affections and commitment to His purposes. So he prays that God would keep them and his son, Solomon, fixed in such a direction. Matthew Henry observed on this part of the prayer:

Great consequences depend upon what is innermost, and what uppermost, in the imagination of the thoughts of our heart, what we aim at and what we love to think of. If any good have got possession of our hearts, or the hearts of our friends, it is good by prayer to commit the custody of it to the grace of God: “Lord, keep it there, keep it for ever there.”

The final insight comes from the response of the people in vv. 20-22.

20 Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. 21 And they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the Lord, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness.

Anticipate with delight that worship results before God (20-22). David exhorted the people to bless God in worship and they responded with bowed heads and numerous sacrifices. It all culminated in feasting before the Lord on that day with great gladness (22). This, of course, is exactly what we anticipate doing tomorrow evening as we gather at 6 for our meal and then learn of what God has done.

We have given ourselves to these five weeks taking our cue from the prophet Haggai, considering our ways and asking the Lord to reveal what He may require of us in sacrificial giving toward this campaign.

As we gather tomorrow for the culmination of it all, may we keep these lessons from the past in mind and may God grant us the grace to keep Him uppermost in our affections from that point forward, for His glory and our joy.

To Pledge or Not to Pledge?

That is the question. It is the question of the year, maybe the decade, for OGC as we conclude our first-ever capital campaign on Sunday, May 23.

One factor affecting our decision may come with determining exactly what we mean by the term “pledge.”

Is it a vow that locks us into a covenant from which we can never be loosed?

Is it a guestimate of what we might be able to contribute if things work out OK over the next three years?

Is it what some used to call years ago a “faith promise” – what I will give if the Lord does something miraculous in terms of adding to our incomes in an unexpected way?

Good questions all, to which I would say none of the above.

Well, than, what is a pledge?  We can turn two places for help. They happen to harmonize quite nicely.

First, the dictionary. Webster’s sixth definition reads: “something promised, especially money to be contributed in regular payments.”

Second, the Scriptures. Consider 2 Cor. 9:1-5:

Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending  the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift  you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction (emphasis added).

A pledge is a gift promised based upon what’s known as opposed to unknown. You look at your income stream at present, determine where you will sacrifice, calculate what you can give on a monthly basis and promise to put that in the plate faithfully, as God continues to give you grace to do so. It is not presuming on God to do something unusual that you hope He will do (faith promise). It is not a vow or covenant from which you could never be released if circumstances somehow changed beyond your control and prevented you from following through. It’s a promise to follow through with a plan for giving, just as you would do with a missionary or charitable organization you support based upon counting the cost and doing what God purposes in your heart (2 Cor. 9:7).

One commentary put this spin on Paul’s purpose in v. 6: He places the burden on the Corinthians and is fully assured that they will complete what they had promised. He reminds them of a proverbial truth: “A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

May we pray together throughout the remainder of this week that the Lord guides each of our member family units in knowing what kind of one-time gift and/or monthly pledge He requires of us AND may He give us grace to make good on what we promise so the apostle Paul doesn’t have to breathe down our necks, if he could, and remind us to follow through on our pledges.

Lessons from a Capital Campaign from the Past

Our five week capital fund campaign for OGC’s first ever building draws quickly to a close.

Next Sunday, May 23, the day we bring our pledge commitments to the Lord, fast approaches.

This week I want to utilize the blog to draw some lessons from similar campaigns from the past in the history of God’s people. I want them to be an encouragement and help as we prepare for this most significant day in the history of our church.

The building of the tabernacle in Israel’s history gives us the first historical occurrence of this kind from which we may make application.

In Exodus 35:4-9 we read:

4 Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. 5 Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, 7 tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

In Exodus 35:20-29 we learn of the response of God’s people to Moses’ exhortation:

20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.

Matthew Henry, the Puritan commentator made these five excellent insights about the above verses:

  1. It is intimated that they brought their offerings immediately; they departed to their tents immediately to fetch their offering, and did not desire time to consider of it, lest their zeal should be cooled by delays. What duty God convinces us of, and calls us to, we should set about speedily. No season will be more convenient than the present season.
  2. It is said that their spirits made them willing (v. 21), and their hearts, v. 29. What they did they did cheerfully, and from a good principle. They were willing, and it was not any external inducement that made them so, but their spirits. It was from a principle of love to God and his service, a desire of his presence with them in his ordinances, gratitude for the great things he had done for them, faith in his promise of what he would further do (or, at least, from the present consideration of these things), that they were willing to offer. What we give and do for God is then acceptable when it comes from a good principle in the heart and spirit.
  3. When it is said that as many as were willing-hearted brought their offerings (v. 22), it should seem as if there were some who were not, who loved their gold better than their God, and would not part with it, no, not for the service of the tabernacle. Such there are, who will be called Israelites, and yet will not be moved by the equity of the thing, God’s expectations from them, and the good examples of those about them, to part with any thing for the interests of God’s kingdom: they are for the true religion, provided it be cheap and will cost them nothing.
  4. The offerings were of divers kinds, according as they had; those that had gold and precious stones brought them, not thinking any thing too good and too rich to part with for the honour of God. Those that had not precious stones to bring brought goats’ hair, and rams’ skins. If we cannot do as much as others for God, we must not therefore sit still and do nothing: if the meaner offerings which are according to our ability gain us not such a reputation among men, yet they shall not fail of acceptance with God, who requires according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not, 2 Co. 8:12; 2 Ki. 5:23. Two mites from a pauper were more pleasing than so many talents from a Dives. God has an eye to the heart of the giver more than to the value of the gift.
  5. Many of the things they offered were their ornaments, bracelets and rings, and tablets or lockets (v. 22); and even the women parted with these. Can a maid forget her ornaments? Thus far they forgot them that they preferred the beautifying of the sanctuary before their own adorning. Let this teach us, in general, to part with that for God, when he calls for it, which is very dear to us, which we value, and value ourselves by; and particularly to lay aside our ornaments, and deny ourselves in them, when either they occasion offence to others or feed our own pride.

Where does the Lord speak to you from this capital campaign from the past in preparation for your response to OGC’s capital campaign in the present?

Precious Promises for Warding Off Debilitating Discouragement

Capital Fund Campaign Sunday #3 has just about passed. You can listen to the third sermon from Haggai 2:1-9 here.

Here is the summary of the message, including theme, main points, and applications:

Encouragement for kingdom building work comes from taking God at His word in His powerful promises – the promise of God’s presence in the present as before (2:1-5) and the promise of God’s provision in the future beyond before (6-9). So as we persevere with this campaign and anticipate commitment Sunday on week five, May 23, I urge us to keep on considering our ways, evaluating our priorities. Let’s not waste this season. And let us claim these precious and powerful promises about His abiding, covenant keeping presence and His provision of all our needs, even beyond what we can ask or think. These are the antidotes for any debilitating discouragement that may come our way.

Two more Sundays left in this historic season in our church’s life!

How Not to Waste a Serious Call to Consider Our Ways

Sunday #2 of 5 in our capital fund raising campaign for our building program is now history.

Praise God for fourteen intercessors that evening seeking God at the church office. We pleaded with Him to help us as a people not waste the serious call to consider our ways as commanded by the prophet in Haggai 1:5 & 7.

The second sermon in the series is now available on our website. You can access the audio file here. The text is Haggai 1:12-15. Here is a synopsis of the message:

Here is the banner we need to wave high over our capital campaign and eventually, Lord willing, over our construction project – Zech. 4:6 – Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Church, we are no more equipped or strong or numerous or rich to pull off a 2.5 million dollar building effort than these poor rabble were to rebuild Yahweh’s glorious temple, unless God stirs us up for the task. I can’t do that for us. The elders and deacons can’t. God alone can do this. This is what we need to ask for and see if we are to move ahead and succeed. Move ahead or not, I beg of you, let us not waste this serious call to consider our ways, even as the people of Israel did not. Make the most of this opportunity. Respond positively to the invitation. Listen for God to speak through His word. Look for God to support through His promise – I am with you. And live for God to stir up through His Spirit. Make these five weeks count. Exchange hours on Facebook for time on your face before God in His word. He will speak. However He does, through whatever promises He encourages, and in whatever way He stirs us to act, let us do all for His pleasure and glory and our great joy.

Be encouraged church of God. I received a gift of $1000 from OUTSIDE our church this week toward the campaign. This is only the beginning. God is working. He relishes the faith upon which we are acting and praying (Heb. 11:6).

The Truth About Ministry Fundraising

For some reason this subject is on my mind these days.

I ran across a helpful article to guide us through the maze of seemingly endless appeals that come in letter form day after day.

Here is a sample of what the author says:

But I am suggesting we become informed givers. Don’t be a ministry zombie and give on impulse – for any reason. Give because you’ve researched a ministry, believe in what it’s doing in the world, have confirmed its integrity and track record, and then prayed about the gift.

Whether you are considering giving to OGC’s capital campaign on May 23 or some other ministry, this article has some helpful insights to guide you along the way. I commend it to you.

You can read the piece here.