By: Dn Ng Zhiwen
As you know, Zion Bishan church has voted with a clear mandate to proceed with the Church Development Project with a budget capped at $13 million.
$13 million may not seem like a small sum – and indeed it isn’t. In absolute terms, it is about twice the amount of money that the church raised to purchase that same plot of land and construct the building that you see today. That was back in the early and mid 1990s.
Now, we are poised to embark on a new fund-raising project.
How should we properly go about thinking about it, praying about it, and acting on it?
Money matters are always sensitive. But money does matter… and scripture talks a lot about it.
The Israelites contributed to the building of the tabernacle (and later on, the temple) and the maintenance of the priesthood. In Nehemiah and Ezra’s time, much resource was poured into rebuilding Jerusalem and the 2nd temple (the first was destroyed by the Babylonians). The Apostle Paul wrote about raising money for the church in a number of his epistles (e.g. Romans, 2 Corinthians); and of course, our Lord Jesus gave much teaching about money and about how we should invest our resources.
Let’s then be unashamed to talk about it… especially here, in the context of the Development Project.
I propose to address this in the catechism way of questions and answers..
(1) What are we seeking to do?
We are seeking to be obedient to God’s call to proclaim the gospel, to make disciples in His name, and generally, by various biblical means – to build God’s kingdom.
We seek to do this within the Bishan Community and beyond. We seek to be a city on a hill, a light to the nations.
(2) Ok, what needs to be done to achieve that?
We’ve got to recognise that as a church, we are a family.
We need to build up this family – to minister to it, and exhort it to minister unto others. If everyone in the family of God catches the vision (as in response to Qn 1) and acts on it, we can progress towards fulfilling the purpose of God.
(3) I understand, but what does the church building have to do with that?
First, I’m glad that you recognise that the church is not the building, but the people.
As brother Quek Tze Ming said today, the building is a facility. It’s purpose is to facilitate the church family’s work to accomplish its purpose.
Some examples would be the provision of meeting space for services, for classes, retreats and camps, and even just a place to chill out and have conversations.
The facility should facilitate the church family’s effort to reach out to the Bishan community.
(4) Don’t we already have a church building, and is it not enough?
Yes we have a building, but right now its facilities are being maxed out – On sunday mornings, all the rooms are used up for Sunday School, YD classes, Adult Discipleship classes, and ethnic services… still we have no space.
The sanctuary and chapel (our two rooms able to take more than 150 people) are also maxed out on Sundays.
Did I mention also that we don’t have enough toilets / showers, storage space and etc.?
(5) So what are we building in the Development Project?
We are building an extension of the church building. Our new facilities would include more classrooms, more large halls (i.e. chapel, multi-purpose room), places to meet to chat (e.g. cafe), and more basic facilities (e.g. toilets).
We also hope that the new facility would be more welcoming… for example, did you notice that the walls would be removed and replaced by a garden hedge?
(6) Who stands to benefit the most from the “new” church building?
Those of us who would form the church 5, 10 even 15 years down the road, as well as those we seek to reach out to (i.e. the Bishan community and beyond).
Lord-willing, the new facilities would be able to accommodate the growth in the church that we desire to see in the coming years.
(7) How are we certain that this Development Project is what God wants us to do?
(a) the motivation behind the development project is the desire to do the Lord’s work for His glory,
(b) the leaders have prayed and discerned that this is the Lord’s will, and
(c) the members of the church have prayed and voted for the project,
We believe that this is what God wants us to do.
At the same time, we must constantly remind ourselves that the way we go about doing the project must honour God and not man.
And we must also not forget the work of building the family.
(7) Ok I see… So let’s talk about raising funds for the Development Project. It is projected to cost $13 million. What is it going to take to raise that kind of money in 3 years?
It will take faith.
(8) Huh? I don’t understand. Shouldn’t you say that it will take members giving more of their finances?
Nope. It will take faith.
(9) Please explain.
The Development Project is an exercise of faith. To have faith is to trust in the Lord to provide and to accomplish… in fact, to do more than we had thought possible.
Let’s put it another way, building the church is the work of the Lord – and that includes the facilities.
As with all the Lord’s work… it will take the Lord’s resource to accomplishes it.
(10) So God’s going to do it? Where then do we come into the picture?
Remember that we are the body of the Lord Jesus Christ? Therefore we are also partakers in the work.
Christ is the Head… and He will have specific challenges tailored for each one of us, related to being a part of the Development Project. This will be done according to the measure of our faith. <one of God’s purposes in all this of course is to let us exercise our faith in Him in order that our faith may grow, to the glory of God.>
Can we trust in God to enable us to fulfill the particular role that He has for each of us?
(11) In practical terms, what does this mean?
This means that each of us, as members of the body of Christ, has to get down to praying and listening – to discern what God (the Head) is wanting of you and I individually.
This is the first challenge, since many of us find it difficult to hear God’s voice especially when it is crowded out by our own voice.
After knowing, then comes the trusting and obeying.
And God alone knows what will be the result of that. But by trusting and obeying, you are letting God prove His faithfulness in your life.
(12) Today in service, Pastor David spoke of different levels of faith, according to the amount of money raised. Does that mean that only wealthy people can have lots of faith?
Nope. Pastor David was talking about levels of faith, not about current levels of wealth.
Do you remember the story of the widow with the two mites (very small copper coins)? Jesus commended her more than He commended those who gave out of their abundance, because she gave all that she had. (Luke 21:1-4) It was obvious that she was commended for her faith. Well guess what, Jesus took her story and He turned it into a lesson on faith and giving for His people for 2,000 years! And to this day, we don’t even know the name of the poor widow.
Again, do you remember how Jesus fed the 4,000 and 5,000? (Mark 6:30-44; Mark 8:1-9) It did not come out of abundance, but out of little (In the case of the 5,000, just five loaves and two fish) that God took and turned into abundance.
The principle can be applied in other areas – Gideon had to reduce his army from 32,000 to 300, but with that 300, he defeated the larger army of the Midianites. (Judges 7)
So in God’s economy, things do not work according to human reasoning and resourcefulness, but according to Divine reasoning and Divine power.
God is very much into accomplishing great things out of small things. Why? So that it would be clearly evident that the accomplishment was Gods’, to His glory. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
What is required of us then is faith.
What I would be looking forward to is to see and hear stories of God at work in our lives as we trust and obey. They would be delightful surprises.
(13) What then for the wealthy people?
What is it to you to worry about other people?
Let your business be to work out your faith before the Lord; Just as it must be my business to work out mine.
I’d only say this: That to whom much is given, much is expected; each one of us will be accountable before God for how we have been stewards of the things entrusted to us.
Nonetheless we are all in this together; let’s keep encouraging one another to put ourselves to the work.
FINALLY, I say again, don’t forget that just as we are building a new facility, the other (and far more) important thing that we are to do is to build the church – the family. May we likewise be found faithful in that.
Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11
And [our] God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15