When we started our church plant, we inherited the assets of a church that had closed. The closing was an unfortunate thing for that church, but God redeemed the hard work and sacrifices of that congregation as these inherited assets were re-purposed for our church plant. One of those assets was a group of wood-framed chairs with burnt-orange cushions. While they would not have been our first choice of color and material, they are nonetheless quite comfortable.
While it would be nice to have a more neutrally colored set of chairs, it can be quite expensive to find sanctuary chairs that are comfortable and durable. So, we accepted the fact that these chairs would be with us for a long time because we just could not see ourselves spending $6000 of our ministry budget on chairs. Especially since we recognized that buying chairs would be focusing funds on our own comfort, while severely impacting our ability to make a difference in people’s lives. Yes, they would have also made for a more inviting experience for newcomers, but buying chairs meant sacrificing “passing it on” (outreach). So, even though these bright orange chairs clashed pretty abruptly with our otherwise modern decor, these orange chairs would be with us for a while.
Over the past couple years of this church plant’s journey these bright orange chairs have become part of our identity. The leadership team and staff actually began to “love” them as they collectively came to symbolize our commitment to being a frugal church intent on utilizing as much of our resources as possible for ministry outside of the church body.From time to time, we would entertain the idea of new chairs, sometimes even looking at some different choices and their costs. But these brief musings often ended with content resolve: as long as new chairs meant cutting back on “passing it on”, we would keep what we have. We are thankful for all the gifts that God has given us, even these bright, burnt-orange, wooden chairs.
Something interesting happened recently. A source for some really nice used sanctuary chairs revealed itself. They were used, but very nice. Slightly larger than typical chairs, they were nearly new and there were just enough of them for our current needs plus a little growth. Best of all, they were unbelievably inexpensive. The source wanted about 15% of their original cost.
Wow. Amazing deal. But, I had a problem – I had this commitment that I made to God. He has been (and still is) so good to us. I promised Him that I would not buy new chairs unless somehow that purchase facilitated “passing it on”. But how could that ever be? If we spend money on new chairs we take away from our ability to “pass it on”. It seemed that the condition I put on buying new chairs was impossible to meet. But, God is not bound to our understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
As it turns out, the source of the “new” chairs is a church plant that closed its doors (very unfortunate). Despite being closed, they still had some “pass it on” ministry commitments that they had no idea how they were going to be able to fund once they closed their doors. I don’t believe in coincidences. God connected us so that He could accomplish two things. He blessed our church with new chairs that help us create a more inviting experience, and He used the funds we gave them (in exchange for those chairs) to fund their “pass it on” commitments. Two birds, one stone. Two promises/commitments fulfilled with one great big God.