A Letter from Pastor Seth Neckers
My first car was a mauve 1992 Honda Accord with a 5-speed stick. I don’t think there is a soul on this planet who would call that car an exciting vehicle. Nobody had its promotional poster pinned up on their wall. It wasn’t anyone’s dream car then and it probably isn’t in anyone’s classic collection today. But you know what? It was the best car. It did everything I asked of it. It was clean, efficient and reliable. It got fantastic gas mileage, had a transmission that was forgiving for a learner, and had virtually no blind spots. It was the perfect people mover. It is because of that car that my family still drives Hondas today.
Now, I mention that car because when we talk about how we use our money, paying off debt is kind of like my old Accord. You talk about it and people scoff. It isn’t exciting. It isn’t anyone’s dream. We’d much rather talk about the fun things you can do with money, the things you can buy and places you can go. But here is the thing, it is often the best thing we can do.
There are four basic ways we can use money. We can spend it, invest it, save it, or give it. Again, the first is by far the most exciting. The last, giving, is often the most personally rewarding, as we see our finances make an impact beyond ourselves. But when we pay down debt we have, we are doing a little bit of the middle two. Sure, it isn’t saving in the sense that the money we put there can be taken back out immediately, but it preserves future wealth. It also is like investing in that the money put there today produces an even greater impact tomorrow. It is just that delay that makes it so difficult.
I share this not only as personal stewardship advice, but also because as a church we are looking to take this year and intentionally pay down debt. After coming through a season of transitions (covid, pastoral, denominational) we find ourselves saying, “God, what is next? Where are you leading us?” God has blessed us at Lifehouse and there are many things to celebrate. Worship involvement at Huntertown and Cedar Canyon continue to grow, and last month we had a Sunday with the largest worship for a regular (non-holiday service) at Cedar Canyon campus in the last four years. We’ve been welcoming new visitors each week. Even with the terrible weather, our Christmas Eve services were well attended and raised $3,800 for Camp Lakewood and Camp Adventure. Missions at Forest Park remain strong, and we sent our first overseas mission team since COVID hit to Jamaica in February. Our finances are in the healthiest place they have been since COVID hit. God continues to use us to help people become fully alive in Jesus.
In this season of transition, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to, but we know that God is calling us to pay down the mortgage on the Cedar Canyon campus. We’ve made an extra mortgage payment each year and now have just $868,000 remaining. However, this mortgage has an adjustable rate that resets every five years. While we’ve had ten years of favorable rates, the current financial market means the rate adjustment at the end of this year will nearly double our current rate, increasing our payment by an estimated $1,700 per month. That is money that is taken away from our mission, away from our ministries, and away from new things God may call us to, like expanding our space for family ministries at Cedar Canyon. As a result, we know God is calling us to pay down this debt.
Like my old car, it isn’t exciting. It isn’t fancy. But it is what we need. Our goal is to raise $250,000 by the end of the year to reduce our debt by about 30%. Not only will this keep our monthly payment stable, it will cut eight years off the life of the loan and save us over $100,000 in the next five years alone. That is money which goes right back into making a Kingdom impact in our community, our three campuses, and beyond. Our leadership has already committed to personally contributing to this effort, but if you call Lifehouse your home, please prayerfully consider also supporting this endeavor this year. It will mean we’ll be able to help more people become fully alive in Jesus.
To designate giving toward this fund, you can select “Preparing the Way Debt Reduction Campaign” on our online giving portal or written the memo line of your checks. Since we know that if each family gave up the equivalent of a cup of coffee a day and donated it instead, we’d be able to surpass our goal, one option to consider is setting a recurring donation to help slowly but steadily work toward our goal.
Thank you for continuing to dream big, for serving others, for doing life together, for offeringthe grace of God to everyone, for putting the Kingdom over church, and for doing the right thing, even when it is hard!
Pastor Seth Neckers