We burned our mortgage at the church Saturday night. It was quite a celebration. Several Vineyard leaders were there, including Gary and Joy Best, the national directors. They all spoke very affirming and life-giving words over our community. I did burn the actual statement which I and the treasurer signed for the bank stating that our original mortgage was $450,000. And now it is all up in smoke! Along with the mortgage, I also burned several papers that I had what I called the "fine print" of the mortgage... symbolic of the burden we'd been carrying by ourselves ever since the beginning, but the weight of which doubled after our church split down the middle in 1997. The "fine print" were the many negative words, even curses, that had been spoken over our church over the years. Here's just some of them:
"I suggest you seriously think about closing down the church, selling it all off, and walking away."
"In order to sustain such a large mortgage, you need to double the size of your congregation within the year."
"Hello? May I speak with David Hayward. This is so-and-so from the Royal Bank. There are some issues that have come to our attention that need to be addressed immediately."
Me: "Colin (our treasurer and retired banker), how do we tell the bank that we're just going to have to trust God in language they can understand?" Colin: "Ha-ha-ha!"
"There are people waiting like vultures for you to die!"
"I predict that in a few years you will have a few people, and that they will have high gifting but low character. Then soon after that you will close as a church."
"Have you ever considered just shutting the whole thing down?"
"You should get a full-time job so that the church can keep up with its mortgage payments."
"They got you by the balls!"
"Honey, I shrunk the church!"
"You can always fold."
"Sure, you can believe in faith and prayer and waiting, but what you need right now is money!"
"Are there any wealthy people in your congregation who can inject large sums of money into the budget?"
"You should start a pledge campaign as well as increase tithing. A little pressure applied in the right place wouldn't hurt!"
"Your church has no future!"
"I simply can't see how you can survive another year!"
"Have you ever considered the possibility that the devil used you to destroy God's work?"
"You are an Absolom, and like Absolom, you and your kingdom will die!"
"You and your church will become the laughingstock of this whole region!"
"We're going to die! We're all going to die!"
"Looks to me like you need a miracle!"
Well, that's enough for now. You get the picture. I had written each of these on sheets of paper. I read them aloud, one by one, and as I read them, I tossed them into the fire, never to have power over us again, God willing. The pungent smell of smoke filled the sanctuary. And it was a beautiful aroma... like incense. The photo is of me burning the mortgage. Nice fire!