Pastor Mark Toone: My wife Cyndi loves old murder mysteries like Columbo. And I’ll watch them with her, but I find the commercials on those channels equally entertaining. Retired game show hosts (who are obviously financial experts) are pitching gold or silver or reverse mortgages or insurance or something else they promise is going to protect my wealth. I’m so relieved to know that Chuck Woolery is looking out for me!
Of course, these are scary times. The stock market is a roller coaster. Runaway inflation. Brazen thieves. Our son Cooper recently had his debit card cloned by someone who tried to rip him off. Thugs walk into stores, snatch up designer purses…and rush out the door…with no consequences. Unless…you try to run through a locked door in a Seattle store…and knock yourself out. I have to admit, that made my day.
It is hard to know how to protect your wealth these days. So, what if I could recommend a guaranteed strategy? The perfect balance to your portfolio? It isn’t gold…it isn’t endorsed by Chuck Woolery. But the guy who does endorse it is pretty reliable! Here’s what he says to us who are nervous about our financial future. Luke 12: 28b-34:
“O you of little faith!…do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Did you know there’s an investment that will never slip through your fingers? That cannot be scammed or stolen from you? It is the money you invest in the work of God’s Kingdom. And today, Pastor Ellis and I would like to make the case that the mission and vision of Chapel Hill…is a trustworthy and fruitful place to invest your kingdom dollars.
I’ve received feedback recently from several people as I shared about our church’s financial situation. They said, “Well…you don’t talk enough about money and tithing.” Nearly knocked me over! I remember a time when people complained that I talked about money too much. I guess I’ve swung in the opposite direction. So…we’re going to talk about it today. And why we believe the work of your church is a great investment. If you’re a visitor, relax! We aren’t coming for you! But this is a good chance for you to eavesdrop on our family business. Maybe you’ll get excited about it, too!
I want to speak about our future. But first, I want to look backwards. 12 years ago, I shared with your elders three priorities for the coming decade. Denomination, Debt and Discipleship.
First, denomination. I told them that our denomination no longer shared our values; we needed to find a new church home. Last June, we celebrated our ten-year anniversary of moving into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church…such a blessing!
Secondly, debt. After three building campaigns, we had amassed $8 million in debt at the high point. We needed to get serious about eliminating that debt. Beyond These Walls did just that. On January 3, 2021, we burned our last mortgage. Debt-free!
Thirdly, discipleship. I told the Session that if we did not begin to hire young, this church would just grow old with me. They agreed. You need only look up here on a Sunday morning to see how God has raised up a new generation of gifted young leaders.
Denomination, Debt, Discipleship. Ten years of work! Mission accomplished! So…what’s next? We can’t sit on our laurels. What is God’s future for us? Early this year, our elders gathered to answer that question. And came up with three priorities for the coming five years. I’ve put Pastor Ellis in charge of implementing those strategies, so I’m going to ask him to share this vision with you.
Pastor Ellis White: Thank you, Pastor Mark. What faithful leadership you have provided for this congregation over the last 12 years as we have sought to follow through on those three ‘D’s—thank you. And I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.
In March we sat down with our Session—our board of Elders—and we said, “It’s March 2027, 5 years from now, God has moved beyond our wildest dreams. What has happened?” And as we prayed and discussed and brainstormed and collaborated it became clear that if God has moved beyond our wildest dreams over the next five years, we will see three things that center around these three words: care, share, and prepare. First, care.