Associate director of church lending, Converge Cornerstone Fund
Point Magazine // September 2020
Have you ever stood before a challenge wondering if it can be accomplished, and what your role in all of it might be?
I was present the moment the Converge 5-year church planting goal was announced at the Unleash Conference this past January: 312 new churches and 62,000 lives impacted. The excitement 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’ve seen in a long time.
Despite the excitement, anytime I find myself in such experiences, I'm 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’m no church planter. I’m just a guy with a wife and three young kids trying to get by without messing it all up.
How can I help? What can I do?
A place for everyone
We are not the first people to stand before a big challenge and wonder if it can be done, or what our specific role in it all may be. 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 were 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? Who would do the exhausting and dangerous work?
Enter Nehemiah stage right.
You have to love the guy, capable of getting even 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 his home. When we are finished, each section will be joined together, its strength and quality unmatched. Together, we will rebuild this wall.”
Brilliant! If ever people were to care for the quality of a wall, it would be for 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’s fascinating. Eliashib, the high priest. The sons of Hassenaah 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 Malkijah.
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 a place on the wall. Everyone contributed to the challenge.
What I love is that Converge’s vision goes well beyond 312 new churches and 62,000 lives impacted. That’s only a part of our greater mission to start and strengthen churches worldwide. How we do it is defined so simply — together.
Who will make this happen? Us. You and me. 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.
A glimpse of “better together”
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.
The time came to purchase our first facility, and 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.
“We were in rented facilities as a mobile church for four years,” said Chris Highfill, lead pastor of Grace River Church, a Converge MidAmerica church plant in St. Peters, Missouri, just west of St. Louis. “The time came to purchase our first facility, and 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.”
Overland Hills Church in Papillion, Nebraska, an Omaha suburb, is in the midst of an expansion project to meet the growing needs of its community.
“We were a growing church in an expanding neighborhood,” said 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. We eventually determined it was the Lord’s will for us to expand. The team at the Converge Cornerstone Fund was 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 it’s already having a renewed growth in the surrounding neighborhood. We are praising God for all he has done.”
The funds for these expansion projects are made available by offering competitive investment opportunities for churches and the Converge constituency — individuals eager to play their part and fulfill their role in the mission before us. All the while, they are strengthening their own financial stability through competitive rates.
“Without our investors, the ministry doesn’t happen at all,” Converge Cornerstone Fund president Steve Schultz said. “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 we need 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 over more than 65 years, it also invested millions of dollars into Converge to 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’ve 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. Finances, team development and culture development are the biggest hurdles facing church planters, according to Converge executive director of Church Planting Lee Stephenson. While financial support is vital, it’s only one piece.
The work is plentiful. The tasks are limitless. Your place in all of this is out there.
Pray God would give you clear insight into your specific area of contribution. Plan with the future in mind. Keep your impact in sight. And participate where you are and how you can.
With each of us doing our part, we will continue starting and strengthening churches together worldwide.