Why Are We Doing What We Are Doing?
Laila and I were younger when we assumed responsibility for a congregation of less than 20 people in southwest Virginia. The building was a one-room cinderblock structure with no functional restrooms. Ugly was an understatement.
Added to the ugly we discovered that the church...and where we lived...was located in the last part of the town to get rid of outdoor toilets. A community stigma lingered long after the smell was gone.
We threw ourselves into ministry with all our energies. Young and naive we assumed that the Holy Spirit services would be enough to attract people. There was minimal growth.
I assumed that folks lacked knowledge of who we were and what we were. One Saturday I set out early and before the day ended I had talked with 53 people in homes, businesses and on the streets. No one seemed negative. I was optimistic for Sunday morning attendance to increase.
Most folks I visited did not show up for Sunday. A few came but never came back.
Laila and I were rudely awakened to the fact that our poor facilities were a negative. I stopped visiting folks. Changed my action plan. For about six months we painted, opened and remodeled restrooms, planted shrubbery, etc. Only two or three men were able to help. My brother-in-law Glenn Hollified recruited a skilled volunteer team from Parkview Church of God in Newport News for a weekend and gave us a tremendous boost.
The building was upgraded. We grew. Then we bought land and built a new building. In time the new building was sold and a factory was purchased and remodeled. Currently Pastor Chad Dunford has led the congregation to become the largest body of any church in the community---about 500 people on Sundays and with powerful community outreach.
Fast forward. Laila and I arrived in Charlottesville to Covenant Church September 1981. The sanctuary was 36' x 36'. Office and two classrooms. New cinderblock building on two acres. Wonderful people.
The folks had a mind to build. In the first year we added about 8,000sf. New folks came.
In the late 80's we added a new lobby and offices. New folks came. Then we remodeled. New folks came. Then we built the second complex. New folks came. Then we added the North Annex. New folks came. We planted a new congregation in Waynesboro. God replaced our gifts to the Valley Covenant.
We dreamed of joining our buildings. We are getting close. The final items are the finishes that will be beautiful. New folks are already coming. More folks are on their way!
Every phase of building has been a sacrifice. Every project has exacted energy, generosity of gifts, diligent prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It has never been easy. There have been times when our minds have felt the load and our bodies have been tired.
But God has been faithful. We have persisted. God has insisted on being the Provider. We have had no wealthy person give a gift nor promise a gift to allow us to relax. Often the journey of finances has been week-by-week. We have practiced trusting God. Trust in God has become a way of life.
It is a shared journey with each of us doing our part.
Every week items are checked off the list for the last time. Every week we give thanks for excellent progress. Every week we are rejoicing to see FINISH happening.
It is not likely that we will have everything done by March 8-10 our mission conference weekend. But with hard work, faithful generosity and prayer we do expect to be much closer to FINISH.
Daily we are shifting our energies to prepare for ministry outreach to new folks on their way for the first time. We want to be ready. We want to serve with excellence. We want all that we do to be done with distinction that would honor Our Lord Jesus! It is His Church. We are under-shepherds with a heart to serve.
Let us pledge to see the FINISH together, with each of us doing our part and praying for the part that we cannot do! Let us also prayerfully engage our own hearts in commitment to the shared ministry that will make Covenant to be a family serving the congregation and community.
Obedience guarantees God's favor! We are doing what we are doing because we love Our Lord and His Church!
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; 10then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.