Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God's economy

This probably isn't that. Our church (UALC) after a lot of prayer bought a big chunk of land in a developing, but undeveloped area, of northwest Columbus called Mill Run. We had multiple services on Sunday at our Upper Arlington Lytham Road location (6 I think), the parking lots were crowded, supposedly the experts told us that visitors stop coming when you are 3/4 full on a Sunday, so the solution seemed to be to move further away from our 40 year old suburban location which couldn't expand. The almost 32 acres cost $2.5 million. We were sold the idea of having two campuses--but one church, and that's what we voted for--then. Every step of the way was covered in prayer and endless meetings. We even had outdoor services on the empty land, sitting on blankets and lawn chairs trying to visualize God's plan. We occupied the new building on New Year's Eve 2000 with a mortgage of $11 million, and it was virtually filled from the first day.

There has been some refinancing along the way, and other evangelical churches have been growing in the meanwhile which cuts into our "customer" base. Also, the new building has been a huge draw for young families, who love the music and programming for kids, but . . . support? During the boom times they had so many obligations, new homes, cars, vacations, etc., and now in lean times, things are just tough and some have lost their jobs. We had a huge fund raising effort to prepay the morgage about 3 years ago bringing it from $7.8 million to $1.6 million currently. We added a third campus in a well maintained urban church in a declining neighborhood which provided service opportunities--after a lot of prayer for direction. But that multi-campus, one church, idea? That has recently been abandoned, and increasingly we are moving to separate "communities." And the "extra" land--that's a problem, too. Now we are being asked to consider selling the remaining undeveloped 16 acres (which considerably enhances the park, condos and nursing home neighbors just by being pristine, semi-wooded and undeveloped).

I'm sure I'm not the only one asking this question: Who and where is the God who told us to buy the land in 1991 and 1992? Were the church leaders mistaken then? Are they mistaken now? Who is the God we prayed to during the Jublilee in 2006? The God we were praising when the people responded and so much of the debt was retired. And as an afterthought. Where are the investors who want this land when so many stores are empty in the shopping center next door?

This I know about God, for sure. He's not creating any more land for us to take care of.

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