Counting the Cost
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ ~Luke 14: 28-30
Jesus shared this teaching with a crowd of people who were following him. He wanted them to think hard before they decided to be genuine disciples. He challenged them to count the cost just as a contractor would before he began to build a tower. The reference may have been to Pontius Pilate who had started and aqueduct he couldn’t complete.
We made a momentous decision at our September 15 business meeting to rebuild the church at 8 Lafayette St. After almost a year of working on our purpose, vision and mission; collecting data on the needs of our neighbors in Wakefield and how a new space might meet them; brainstorming about sharing space with another congregation to support the building; and discussing what kind of pastoral leadership would be needed for the next chapter of our story, the Council presented a comprehensive proposal. They deserve our deep thanks and appreciation for all the work they have done.
They in fact were “counting the cost.” They laid out the insurance money we had to work with, a timeline to complete the project and a projection of how much it would cost per square foot. Since our meeting we have hired a specialist to give us hard numbers.
The biggest challenge for FBC is, do we have the people to complete the job? We all know that we are between a rock and a hard place. Many in our congregation are 80 plus years old and limited in how much volunteer work they can do. Several long-time members died this past summer and we have lost some people. We are unlikely to grow during this time because we do not have a lot to offer newcomers. However, with a new building, a partner to share the space with us, and a new pastor skilled in church planting, great renewal and growth possibilities are ahead.
For this to happen, we need everyone on board. We need volunteers for the building committee, the pastoral search committee, and other task forces along the way. We need people to attend worship as much as they can to support us in this journey. We need people to pray daily that God would raise up just the right architect, contractor, project manager, partner to share the building, and new pastor. We need to pray for the Council and all those in leadership that they would have the wisdom, strength and inspiration to carry on. We need to pray that we will be equipped to handle any curve ball that may come our way, which inevitably will.
We also need people to be faithful in giving. We are entering the season of stewardship when we evaluate our financial support of the church. In order to support a full-time pastor, everyone needs to step up. A new pastor will also want to see how faithful a church is in their pledging and giving. I know many of you are on a fixed income, but if everyone could consider giving one or two percent more that would make a big difference.
As I wrote in an article that appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item last week:
“As you can see, this is a daunting project for a small congregation, but we are people of the Resurrection and alleluia is our song. Faith is not credulity, but an honest assessment of our circumstances, prayerful discernment of what God is calling us to do and to be, and confidence in a creative, powerful, and surprising God. It’s not so much that we have a wonderful faith, but that we have faith in a wonderful God.”