The $50,000 Question

I am old enough to remember the $50,000 Pyramid; in fact, I remember when it was the $25,000 Pyramid! Now we are up to $100,000, and I suspect the game show will go to $250,000 within the next couple of years – if it can stay on the air that long.

What is the question at HarvestDowntown that is worth $50,000?

Here are your clues:

It is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about HarvestDowntown. It is how the neighborhood and those who are in the city perceive and even define the church. It is what most people think of when they see the word “church.” It isn’t the church, but it facilitates the ministry of the church. It isn’t pink, but most people think it is pink. It has an old foundation, but its foundation is performing well, even though its foundation is not Jesus. Its “makeup” is partially complete, but is still in process. It is the primary tool for communicating to our city, Palmer High School, and our neighbors, that “We Care!”

If your answer is “The place where HarvestDowntown meets each week,” you just answered the $50,000 question!

This is the $50,000[1] question because that is how much we know it will cost to finish painting the rest of our church facility. Last fall, and into the winter, we restored and painted the bell tower and front of our facility with the money given by the church community to our general fund[2]. This fall, we would like to finish painting our facility, but we don’t have the resources in our general fund budget to pay for the whole project, but we could potentially service a loan of $50,000[3] from our general fund. But this doesn’t address the other projects completed around the facility – not the least of which is the fence around the kid’s playground.

We use our facility throughout each week to gather for community, worship, and mission. We truly believe that the building exists to be a community center, a worship center, and a missional center, and we would love nothing more than to have our space used daily for these three specific purposes. Does the color of the building really make these three things happen, or does it even hinder these things from happening? No, but the paint and general appearance of our building answers one question, “Does that church care?”[4]

We made the decision years ago that we would never let our facility become the focus, emphasis, or centerpiece of our identity as a church – we merely want it to communicate that we care for our neighborhood, city, and world. But we also never want to communicate that our building defines us as a church community. Up to now, I believe that we have walked this balance well, and we want to continue to do so.

The $50,000 question for you as a part of HarvestDowntown is this, can you help us meet this need? What part could you play in tackling this project? If we were to take on $50,000 of debt, it would afford us the opportunity to manage our cash flow in such a way to continue our current ministry levels as well as launch some new initiatives. The last thing we want to do is limit the ministry that we hope to accomplish through our already packed, and approved budget. By borrowing the $50,000, this affords us the opportunity to maintain our current levels of ministry, meet our budget, and finish two major projects on our facility. I am hesitant to even make such a request because I know the generosity that you have already demonstrated to HarvestDowntown and her mission; and I am truly grateful. And because of your generosity, I need to also give you the opportunity to contribute to this important task and reduce the amount of interest that we would have to pay.[5]

Your elders are deeply committed to demonstrating to our neighbors and city that we care, and we believe that our facility communicates a great deal to those outside our church community. We are committed to asking the same $50,000 question of ourselves and of God Himself. We never want to force anything or push ahead of God, but we believe that God wants us to come together and take care of this important resource for ministry in a timely manner. Let us be clear - we do not believe that we are to cut back on our other commitments to ministry locally and globally to see this happen.[6]

I am truly excited to see what God is going to do through us as a church family because I know how generous you have been over the years. I sincerely hope that this project challenges us and affirms us in the grace of giving as we prepare for what God has in store for our Harvest family.

Please, do not hesitate to email me your comments, questions, concerns, or even your snide remarks! Just reply and I will attempt to find an answer to your questions. On August 20, we will be voting on the question concerning the loan.

[1] In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, the actual bid is for $53,500 – but that doesn’t sound as fun!

[2] Our building is 119 years old and is much more expensive to paint than your home. The stucco has many microfractures and requires a special paint, and the wood trim had rotted and needed to be renewed, restored, or replaced. In order that our investment into Kingdom work would be protected for years to come, we concluded that these two things needed to be addressed as soon as possible. We were informed by multiple experts that to not address these issues would be irresponsible. We could only afford to paint the front of the building and the bell tower with the funds that were available in the general fund.

[3] The loan would be for $75,000, but the initial draw would only be for $50,000. This would allow us to take another draw of $25,000 after paying back $25,000.

[4] Many people, maybe not you, look at the general appearance of a church building and make various conclusions. We want the first conclusion that people make to be that we care about the city and our neighborhood. Thankfully, the city has improved the median – many people assume that we don’t care about our neighborhood because of “our parking lot.” Just to set the record straight, “our parking lot” is a city street.

[5] We are committed to borrowing our funds from the Alliance Development Fund. This means that any interest paid goes to our lending arm of our denomination that only loans money to Alliance ministries. They have offered us a great deal, but they still need to pay their investors!

[6] If we fund this project out of our general fund, we will continue to give 20% away toward having a Global Impact. If you choose to fund this project from designated giving, I would like you to consider setting aside 10% of your gift for Global Impact. The last thing we want to do is to build perceived pyramids here in America while our Alliance family of churches around the world struggle to meet their basic ministry needs – but this requires intentionality on our part.

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