How investing leads to more churches and evangelism

 

 

Five years. 312 new churches. 62,000 lives impacted.

Have you ever stood before a challenge wondering if it can be accomplished, and what your role in it all might be?

I was in the room the moment the 5-year Converge Church Planting Goal was announced at the Unleash Conference in January. The excitement in the room was contagious. Everyone, it seemed, had caught a glimpse of what could be. Our shouts of praise rang louder as the band continued to lead us in worship. It was as close to a “take hell with a garden hose” moment as I have seen in a long time.

Despite the excitement, anytime I find myself in such experiences, I am often left skeptical…Is it really possible? Can such a massive goal really be reached? Then comes the more pressing personal exam: What’s my part in this? What role can I play? I long to see churches planted and lives impacted as much as anyone, but I am no church planter. I am just a guy with a wife, three young kids, trying to get by without messing it all up. How can I help? What can I do?

We are not the first people to stand before a big challenge and wonder if it can be done, or what our specific role may be in it all. For years, the people of Jerusalem had faced the daunting challenge of rebuilding the city wall following its destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. A city without a wall of protection is hardly a city at all. The gates had been burned and the walls had crumbled to the ground leaving the city vulnerable and its people in fear. There was no question what needed to be done. But how… how could such a massive challenge be accomplished? And who would do the exhausting and dangerous work?

[Enter Nehemiah stage right]. You have to love the guy, capable of getting the deadest soul awakened and on a mission. Wondering what had led to the complacency, surveying the wall to determine the next steps, he proclaims: “The time is now! Rise up and build! What do you mean how are we going to do it? What do you mean who? Each person will focus on the portion of the wall nearest their home. When we are finished, each section will be joined together, it’s strength and quality unmatched. Together, we will rebuild this wall.”

Brilliant! If ever one was to care for the quality of a wall, it was indeed the portion closest to the place they and their family lay their heads at night. One by one, piece by piece, layer by layer, the challenge was met. The wall was rebuilt. Have you ever read the names of the laborers in Nehemiah 3? It is fascinating! Eliashib, the high priest. The sons of Hassenah and the daughters of Shallum (I wonder if they were teenagers, because that in and of itself would be a miracle!). Joiada and Meshullam. Hanun and Malchijah. While far from an exhaustive list of laborers, the picture is clear: young and old, male and female, rich and poor, known and unknown- everyone had their place on the wall. Everyone contributed to the challenge.

What I love is that the vision of Converge goes well beyond 312 new churches, and 62,000 lives impacted. That’s only a part of our greater mission, starting and strengthening churches worldwide. How we do it is defined so simply- together. Who will make this happen? Us. You and I. We are better together. Together, we are an unstoppable force of good in this world, capable of unlimited impact for the Kingdom of God. We each have a role. We each have a part to play.

As Associate Director of Church Lending with the Converge Cornerstone Fund, I have a privileged seat in the theater of Better Together. I get to see, firsthand, the pooling of resources near and far to accomplish the unimaginable. From the launch of new churches, to the purchase of a first permanent ministry space; from the building of a new worship facility, to the revitalization of a church that once seemed on the verge of shutting its doors.

Like Grace River Church, a Converge MidAmerica church-plant located in St. Peters, MO, just west of St. Louis who recently had their grand-opening in their new facility. “We were in rented facilities as a mobile church for four years,” says Lead Pastor, Chris Highfill. “The time came to purchase our first facility. We knew there would be challenges and obstacles. It was great to have the Converge Cornerstone Fund as a ministry partner to walk us through the process. Since moving into our new space, we’ve seen God move in amazing ways. Our growth has just exploded, and we know that for all that we have seen so far, we haven’t seen anything compared to what God wants to continue doing in our community. The best is yet to come!”

Or like Overland Hills Church of Papillion, NE, a suburb of Omaha who is in the midst of an expansion project to meet the growing needs of their community. ” We were a growing church in an expanding neighborhood,” says Elder Bob Atkins. “We have always had a strong desire to be able to minister to our community. However, we had a building that was over 50 years old, in need of repair, and not meeting the needs of our growing congregation. We spent time in prayer and preparation to determine what we should do, determining it was the Lord’s will for us to expand. The team at the Converge Cornerstone Fund were very accommodating and made the process of obtaining a loan fairly simple and reasonable. As a result, we are nearly done with the project and its already having a renewed growth in the surrounding neighborhood. We are praising God for all He has done.”

What makes all of this possible?

We do! You and I. Together.

The funds for these expansion projects are made available through the offering of competitive investment opportunities for the constituency of Converge, and through the investments of churches and individuals just like you. People eager to play their part and fulfill their role in the mission before us, all while strengthening their own financial stability through competitive rates.

When recently asked why Cornerstone Fund, President, Steve Schultz, responded, “without our investors the ministry doesn’t happen at all. The vision God gives them to partner with us, along with how He is using each of us to advance His Kingdom moves [our investors] to join us. These investments give us the resources needed to make loans for church expansion possible. It all begins with them!”

In addition to the hundreds of expansion projects the Converge Cornerstone Fund has partnered in through our 65+ years of experience, we have also invested millions of dollars back into Converge to further start and strengthen churches globally. These funds help provide unmatched ministry resources and training for those in the trenches. Why do we do it? Because we have caught a glimpse of better together.

Investing financially in the Converge Cornerstone Fund is only one of many ways God may be calling you in this season. When I asked Lee Stephenson, Executive Director of Church Planting, what the biggest hurdles facing church planters today are, he answered clear and concise: “Finances. Team Development. Culture Development.” While financial support is vital, it is only one piece. The work is plentiful. The tasks are limitless. Your place in all of this is out there. Pray. Pray that God would give you clear insight into your specific area of contribution. Plan. Plan with the future in mind and keep your impact in sight. And participate. Participate where you are and how you can.

Together, with each of us doing our part, we will continue starting and strengthening churches

Better Together,

Kirk Tate

Kirk Tate
Associate Director of Church Lending

The Impact of COVID-19 and Ministry Lending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch a 1-hour webinar as our Converge Cornerstone Fund specialists discuss the effects the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn could have on ministry lending.

If you wish, you can also download the presentation slides.

The webinar addresses topics such as:
· Partnering with churches through the Coronavirus crisis
· The impact on current and future loans
· The impact of payroll protection Plan loans have on lending

CARES ACT- Response

Converge Cornerstone Fund is open and continuing to serve the needs of partnered ministries and investors. We realize your ministry is facing new challenges as a result of COVID-19. As of recent, a lot of information has been quickly dispensed, leading to many questions. Although we are not experts in all the news coming out, we want to remain a resource as your church is determining its options.

As you have likely seen, the President, along with Congress, recently passed the CARES Acts (and the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the Act) as part of a plan to avoid sudden and vast amounts of unemployment. This Act is positioned to assist churches and non-profits in unprecedented ways in weeks and months to come. We wanted to provide a brief overview of the plan, how it impacts Converge churches, and some proactive steps your church can take to benefit from this program.

An Important Overview Of Key Plan Details

Sources and Additional Information were obtained from Vanderbloemen and churchlawandtax.com.

  • The CARES Act establishes a new US Small Business Loan Program called the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses (including nonprofits and churches) with 500 or fewer employees.
  • The program provides federally guaranteed loans to cover payroll and other operating expenses.
  • Loan funds can be used to cover the following expenses:
      • Payroll Costs
      • Group health insurance benefits, paid sick leave, medical and insurance premiums
      • Mortgage or rent payments
      • Utilities
      • Interest on any other debt incurred before February 15, 2020.
  • Principal amounts on the loan for the first eight-week period from the time the loan was made may be forgiven if used to pay:
      • Compensation under $100,000 (per employee)
      • Payment of interest on any obligation
      • Rent
      • Utilities
  • The amount of loan forgiveness is reduced based on an employer’s decline in workers or wages (declines between February 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020, do not reduce the amount of loan forgiveness but only if the employer returns to pre-decline levels by June 30, 2020).
  • Any portion of a loan not forgiven is carried forward as an ongoing loan with a term of ten years at four percent interest.
  • The program is retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. The loan application needs to be submitted by 30, 2020.
  • Our understanding is that no collateral or personal guarantees will be required.

 

Why The Converge Cornerstone Fund Encourages Churches To Consider Applying NOW

  • The CARES Act and Payroll Protection Program offer much-needed relief to Converge churches during these unprecedented times.
  • We believe the Church is on the cusp of an evangelical awakening, and these provisions allow Converge pastors and leaders to focus their energy on ministry during these unique times and be best prepared for growth in months to come.
  • Based on our understanding these funds should have no negative impact on existing and/or future Converge Cornerstone Fund loans.
  • For current Converge Cornerstone Fund borrowers, these provisions help solve short-term hardships without creating long-term implications on existing loans.

 

What Steps Converge Churches Can Take Today

  • Prayerfully consider if this provision is right for your church.
  • Contact your local bank to begin conversations.
      • The Converge Cornerstone Fund is not a part of the Payroll Protection Program. Your church will need to work with a local bank with delegated authority to issue Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.
  • Contact your accountant and/or financial personnel to begin compiling the necessary documentation.
  • Reassure your staff and leaders that you are working on a plan.

 

If you have any specific questions about your Converge Cornerstone Fund, email kirk.tate@converge.org.

Better Together,

Kirk Tate

Kirk Tate
Associate Director of Church Lending

MapleRidge Church

MapleRidge Church

MapleRidge Church was born when Osseo Baptist Church and Northwest Baptist Church, both founded in the 1950s, came together in 1984 to become Praise Community Church. This name expressed their desire to be known for praising God and reaching the community for Jesus. In 1991, Praise Community Church renamed itself MapleRidge Church due to its location on a ridge along Maple Knoll Way. The church currently resides in the heart of the city of Maple Grove, Minnesota.

MapleRidge started working with Converge Cornerstone fund in 2017, as they sought to add a new Christian education space and renovate their gym. The accompanying photos show inside and outside views of the new Christian education space and gym.

MapleRidge Church members are continuing to serve God and enjoy watching to see what He does in their midst and how He directs the church. As a congregation, they want to serve the Father and people of Maple Grove, and any who walks through our doors. It’s about people and sharing the good news of Jesus.

With this improved ministry space, MapleRidge Church has been fostering an amazing children’s ministry with lots of kids coming to the Awana program on Wednesday evenings. As a result of Awana, more young families are choosing to become part of this growing church family. Having an updated ministry space has created excitement for the church as they are continually finding new ways to engage the community.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Prepare for the Unexpected

When it rains it pours. You know how it goes: Something bad happens, then something even worse happens right afterward. I’m sure you can remember when you’ve been victimized by the raining/pouring effect. It hit my family last week.

One day, my family’s dryer stopped working. A couple days later, our refrigerator went out. But as clouds of inconvenience formed overhead, we were prepared enough to not get drenched in a financial storm.

Around this time last year, we started the process of becoming debt-free. One of the first steps was to create an emergency (rainy day) fund.

It took some time, but we were able to sock away the recommended $1,000 into a Cornerstone Fund Demand Investment. I was quite comfortable knowing that my funds were easily accessible and able to be transferred into my bank account the next day.

Thanks to a YouTube video, I was able to fix my dryer somewhat inexpensively. But the refrigerator was still an unplanned larger expense that used up a hefty portion of our emergency fund. Without preparing our rainy day fund in advance, our family would have been in a much more difficult situation. Instead, we now have a functional dryer and a newer refrigerator.

With the Cornerstone Fund Demand Investment, you’ll earn an outstanding rate. Your funds also help start and strengthen churches locally and globally.

Benefits of a Cornerstone Fund Demand Investment:

  • You’ll earn an outstanding rate
  • Your funds are readily available to transfer usually within one business day
  • Your funds help start and strengthen churches locally and around the world

If you’ve already gone through your journey to becoming debt-free and are working toward a fully-funded emergency fund, the Converge Cornerstone Fund is here to help.

Emergency funds help provide support for some of life’s biggest surprises. Learn how we can help you set one up today.

Building a Vision through Faith: Grace River Church’s Story

 

Building a Vision through Faith: Grace River Church’s Story

Written by Laura Anderson with Converge MidAmerica

Many church plants start off by meeting in a shared location, but when is the right time for them to find a permanent home?

Grace River Church in O’Fallon, Missouri has been asking itself this very question. As a church plant that started four years ago in the living room of founding pastor Chris Highfill, moved to a local elementary school, and now meets in the O’Fallon YMCA, Grace River started looking again for their next move last summer. But this time, they wanted somewhere they can stay for good.

As a young church plant, at first it seemed impossible that Grace River would be able to have its own building. But as Highfill got more connected with Converge leaders, Converge MidAmerica President Gary Rohrmayer starting planting the seed about a capital campaign. Highfill was initially reluctant to start because he didn’t feel that it was the right time. But during June of 2018, Highfill felt God’s prompting, and they started planning the campaign.

All summer long Highfill met with other leaders from Grace River and together they planned their vision for the capital campaign. They held meetings and focus groups to make sure they were heading in the right direction and in September held a fundraising dinner for church leaders. After months of groundwork and prayer, Grace River Church launched its capital campaign in October of 2018.

During the campaign, Highfill often spoke from 2 Corinthians 8, where the Macedonian church gave generously out of poverty, and not out of wealth. He emphasized how the fundraising is not just about the building, but about helping people become the men and women that God desires them to be. The building is the tool to ultimately help reach more people for Christ.

At the time of the capital campaign, they didn’t have a specific building they were aiming to purchase. They didn’t have a plot of land in mind for construction. They didn’t even have blueprints for the congregation to visualize what a new building could look like. They simply asked people to give toward a vision.

Highfill knew that when God’s people would take a step of faith toward the vision, God would provide for their needs.

Despite still not having a building or property in mind, the capital campaign ended successfully with a celebration during the first week of December. The very next week, Highfill drove by a building off the interstate that was for sale and felt that God was nudging him to take another look. It had previously been out of their price range, but he decided to call the real-estate agent about it anyways. As it turns out, the building was bank-owned and had dropped in price by $400,000. And not only that, but it had a built-in tenant that would pay off almost the entire mortgage.

The people of Grace River Church took a step of faith in giving, and the Lord provided almost immediately. After finding out about the property last December, they worked hastily to acquire it, and just closed on the building last month. And while there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of renovation and preparing it for church use, they are confident that the Lord will continue to provide. Their current goal is to start holding services at the new building this December.

The capital campaign process unleashed a surge of generosity among the congregation and ultimately brought them closer together as a church. “Our church became a church because of this campaign,” Highfill said. “We were weak before, but the capital campaign increased our passionate spirituality and increased our faith in a great way.” Highfill is excited to see how things progress as they continue to go all-in together. This campaign has been such a beautiful part of the story of Grace River Church, and now is only the beginning.

As Grace River Church continues to grow, they ask for your prayers in the following way:

  • Pray that construction costs for the build-out stay low.
  • Pray that they don’t go over budget.
  • Pray that through this process, they continue to be the people that God desires them to be.
  • Pray that the building will be used as a tool to help people find and follow Jesus.

If you and your church are on the fence about starting a capital campaign, Chris Highfill would love to talk with you about his experience.

If you are ready to get started with a capital campaign, contact Bryan Moak, Vice President of Church Strengthening, for more information.