The title says it all. We are looking at selling the building; however, the church is not for sale.
What that means is that we believe the church is the people.
Together, we are the church. Whether we worship in the park as we have before or whether we have to find a new, permanent location to meet at, we, people with friendships with one another under the lordship of Jesus, will still be the church. Nothing can change that unless we get too discouraged.
The reason we are looking at selling the building is that we lack sufficient operating revenue. We have been blessed with an outside donor who has been giving us $2000 a month for the last two years. He heard about the changes we were doing and wanted to support us as he would a new church plant, which we basically were. When the leadership of the church decided to hire me and to bring about changes, we faced all of the hardships of being an old, established church while facing all the obstacles of being a new church without the funding that a new church has. In December we saw the donations from our generous donor drop to $1500. That amount will continue to drop by $250 per month every quarter until our generous donor is no longer financially supporting our church. Our current shortfall is around $1500. With the incremental decreasing that we will see in the coming year and a half, our shortfall will eventually reach around $3000 a month.
As you can see, the amount of money that we’re taking in does not cover the expenses that we have. This means that we have to do something drastic. Our church is heading in the right direction. People are growing in the Lord. People are excited about loving their neighbors. And we are growing in numbers. We want to keep going. We believe the work that God has started here is not over yet. We are excited to see what God will do through us.
We have cut expenses to the bare bones. The people in our church are giving generously, yet we still do not have enough to make ends meet. We must grow in people who are emotionally, financially, and spiritually committed to our mission so that we can meet the budget needs that we currently have and will have in the future. At this point in time, we are faced with some difficult options: To close up the church completely, to lay me off and go without a pastor, or to sell the building. We don’t want to close up shop because we believe that God is doing great things among us and through us. This church has previously tried stretches without a paid pastor, and it is our opinion that during those stretches the fruit has been lacking. We see no reason to believe that by laying me off our church will prosper, and that is the most important thing here. Not to mention that I still feel called to minister in Antwerp. Considering all of that, we’ve decided that at the present time the best option out of all the bad options is to put the building up for sale.
Receiving miraculous financial support would be great. Even with more outside support to help us through the coming year, we will be in a similar situation at the end of next year. We are thankful to hear that another organization, who asked us to keep their name anonymous, wants to support us with $1500 a month for a year. This has not officially gone through yet, but it looks promising. What this means is that we don’t have to close up or lay me off in mid February like we feared we would. But it does not get us out of this crisis. It gives us some breathing room to allow God to do what He wants to do.
It is a shame to have to sell the building. A lot of people have donated generously through the years with their time and money to make this building what it is. Unfortunately, those blessings from the past cannot help us at this point in time to get us where we need to go. Financially, selling the building is a terrible long-term solution, but it is the best short-term one available to us. However, God might have better long-term plans for us in selling the building and meeting in a different location. His ways are not our ways. And just because we list the building does not mean that it will sell.
The great thing about being followers of a wonderful God is that we know He can turn what we perceive as bad situations into great, life-changing events. We can be better as a result of this change than we were before it. This might even be what God wants for us. He knows what we need and what our community needs better than we do.
So I want to encourage you to not be discouraged by the circumstances. That’s easier said than done. I spent a few weeks deeply discouraged about our financial situation and the future of this church, but God continues to convict me that what I perceive as a bad situation will actually bring him glory. Paul wrote, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV). That promise was true for the Philippians and it is true for us today. I know that God has been doing great things here in Antwerp as a result of our faithfulness to him. Let us not give up hope. Let us not be discouraged. Let us continue on in our mission to love Jesus, to love each other, to love our neighbors, and to expect God to bring about positive change. The building is for sale, but the church will continue on in the work we have been called to do. Where he will have us worshipping him in a year’s time does not really matter. What matters is whether we are committed to worshipping and serving him together.
Grace and peace,
Pastor at Riverside Christian Church
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.