Have you ever have that moment when you realize you don’t have enough money to give to everyone and everything you want to? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? It demonstrates that we live in a world in which we have limited resources, and that means we have to make tough choices. This is especially true since we don’t typically have chapter and verse in Scripture that prescribe for us whom to give to, nor the exact dollar amount. This challenge proves to be one of those “gray matters” in life, an important topic which we discussed recently.
In the past, our church has not prioritized spending on our facilities. But with our capital campaign now in full swing, you might wonder if that is still true!
Let us consider two items, mercy and missions. For a long time these have been high spending priorities for New Life.
By ‘mercy,’ we mean basic physical and financial help to those in need. Think of The Parable of the Good Samaritan, famously ended by Jesus saying, “Go and do likewise.” Mercy could mean helping someone pay an unforeseen medical bill. It could be assistance in home repair, or the gift of a used vehicle. It could be helping someone find a home or a job. These are the wonderful things our diaconate (deacons and deaconesses) lead us in doing. Theirs is a difficult job; they know all about difficult choices!
Contributions for the diaconate comes through the second offering taken on Communion Sundays. Yet most of their funding comes from the income produced by the two stores of New Life Thrift, located in Glenside and Melrose Park. Moreover, our thrift store income also supports various ministries and charities in our community as well. But here’s what’s important: to repair and improve our church facilities, we are not tapping into diaconate funds. Specifically, we are not re-routing New Life Thrift income to improve our building. In fact, in all the discussions I’ve been a part of the last couple of years concerning the building, I can’t remember this even being suggested by a New Lifer! The diaconate and New Life Thrift were designed for mercy. That continues to be a financial priority of New Life.
How about missions? Here I ask you to think about the Great Commission, in which Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt 28:19) Now I have been asked several times over the years if New Life “tithes” its income to missions, i.e. if 10% of the general budget goes to missions. The answer is certainly yes, and in fact it’s been a “double tithe” for a long time. Moreover, in the last couple of years we have reached 23%! Actually we spend even more than this on missions, if you consider staff time devoted to supporting missions efforts, and more.
This is where the beauty of a capital campaign for building enhancements becomes evident. We are not tapping into missions funds for our building, but rather we are attempting to protect our missions funds and general budget from undue pressures caused by facilities needs. So the campaign really is separate from our weekly giving, some of which goes to missions. (By the way, campaigns like these typically do not impact weekly giving, and often it goes up a little! That comes as a surprise to many people.)
We know a capital campaign embodies a big request upon us all, but we hope you can see how this reflects and reinforces New Life’s traditional spending priorities in mercy and missions. We don’t want to change those priorities — we know how much Jesus emphasized each!
Yet there is more to be said. Investment into our facilities helps this institution live on, launching it with strength into “The Next Thirty Years.” This allows our mercy and missions emphasis to continue as well, with a healthy institution continuing to have resources to nurture and execute these activities. So investment in our building is an investment in mercy and missions, even if it seems indirect. But more importantly, it’s more direct than you might think. For our beloved building is a place of mercy and mission to our wonderful local community. We desire a pleasant, flexible, working building — one that will bless the Easton Road Corridor in the name of Jesus!
How much will the Lord lead our congregation to invest into our facilities? We don’t know, but we truly desire this to be the Lord leading each of us, person by person, and household by household. To that end, thank you for entering into this season of prayer with us.