To my great joy and surprise, our family was having a conversation about how God might be calling us to contribute to Christ the Redeemer’s Forming and Sending Campaign. We talked about what it means to give joyfully and sacrificially. As our conversation continued, our sons were stunned to find out that there were many things we did not have because we were called to give to God’s church, rather than spend all we had on our own family. It was probably the most meaningful conversation our family has had around the topic of giving, as well as wise stewardship of the gifts God has given us.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I first need to confess something to you: I have never been in favor of a capital campaign for a church.
I have spent enough time around the world witnessing God work miraculously with little or no money at all, and developing a judgmental view of the American church, as a result, believing it spent way too much money on itself. I was also brought up thinking money was a very private topic that was not to be discussed in public. So, even as Senior Warden, I have had to prayerfully fight away fear and apprehension when thinking about our capital campaign.
Admittedly, another stumbling block for me was the numbers. I work hard as a physician, but years of volunteer work overseas and work with the underserved in Boston does not provide a lot of surplus income. Our checkbook is pretty black and white; it’s not like another couple of zeroes are just going to appear. But even with my doubts and my biases, I continued praying and thinking.
God has been faithful in answering my prayers. Where there once was fear and apprehension, there is now openness and expectation. God has answered with joy and hope—and an idea.
Joy and hope have come as Jodi, the boys and I talk about this opportunity as a family.
Joy and hope have also come as I realize that the campaign, especially for our family, is not about the money or whether the church is able to build or not, but about seeing God work.
My joy and hope increase as I begin to see the additional value this campaign holds for our church. While the need for this campaign is clear, I am experiencing the tremendous value in simply and prayerfully asking, “Lord, what would you do through me?” Even if the need were not so acute, it is still an incredible opportunity to learn how to give God greater control of our family’s finances.
I shared with Vestry that in some ways, good and bad, a capital campaign is a lot like a stress test for us as a church. If you come to me planning to have a large surgery and you are a little overweight and get a little short of breath when going up stairs, I might refer you for a stress test.
During this test you will walk on a treadmill, uphill and with increasing speed, while your heart is monitored. A normal stress test means that you move forward with the surgery. An abnormal stress test means more testing and specific treatments to help fix the problem that is found. The point of the stress test is not the test itself, but rather making sure you will be healthy in the future. Similarly, our Forming and Sending Campaign, done rightly, will provide crucial information about our church that will keep us healthy for years to come.
Joy and hope have also come through an idea the Lord brought to mind: a way he might choose to use the Fryling family (despite our black and white checkbook).
My Grandpa Mooij was a first-generation Dutch baker. He would get up at 3:00AM to make bread. I remember his huge hands and strong forearms from years of kneading thousands of loaves of bread. He loved Jesus Christ and the Church with all his heart, soul and mind.
Grandpa Mooij also collected silver dollars. I remember boxes and boxes of coins, organized by year, dating back to the 1800s. Part of this collection came to me when he died; however, the collection is not at our home and I have not seen it for about 40 years.
But as our family prayed, the Lord brought to our hearts and minds that this inheritance is something he might want to use at this time. I can share this with you, with no danger of pride, because I have no idea how much Grandpa Mooij’s collection is worth—it may be $200 or $20,000. The point for our family, though, is not what the value of the collection ends up being, but rather that we have the privilege of giving all of it to the Lord.
Working through the collection with my sons before we get it appraised will be a time of joy, hope, discovery, and expectation. We will rejoice when we find a coin that is more valuable than others, not because our bank account will get bigger, but because the Lord has provided more resources to accomplish his work in and through Christ the Redeemer.
So, dear brothers and sisters, I confess to you that I have never been in favor of a capital campaign, until now. I do not know how the campaign will end. I do not know if it will be “successful”. But I do know that, for my heart and my family, it has already been a success, and for this I am truly thankful.