I’m Jon Lawler, chair of CSPC’s recently completed ‘Strong Foundation: Future Mission’ capital campaign, and here’s how that helped me live deeply.
What if someone asked you to lead an effort to raise over $11 million? That was the position in which I found myself this year. The CSPC Session agreed it was time to do a few projects aimed at preparing CSPC to effectively reach and serve the next generation. Then leadership asked if I’d lead the effort to raise the money during the spring and summer of 2022. Through chairing the CSPC Pastoral Search Team from 2017 to 2020, I had really fallen in love with Cedar Springs. I have deep connection here, and if I believe in something, I like raising money to support it. So even though it sounded like a big job, I said yes. I was excited for two reasons: I’d get to work with James Forsyth (we already had a close relationship), and I believe in the mission of bringing up the next generation. It was that simple. On paper, $11 million was needed for the projects (This was based upon schematic drawings. As these drawings progressed and the scope of the project was further refined, the pricing increased to $11.9 million, which became our goal.) The approach was ‘silent phase, public phase.’ We made a list of about four dozen people we wanted to meet with first in the silent phase, then got to work. It was a huge goal and unpacking it person by person took a lot of time, but this phase was actually pretty easy. The reason? There’s a wonderful spirit in our church right now. Every meeting, two things came across: One, every single person was excited about who we are as a church and where we’re going. Two, every person or couple had a very impactful story about the difference CSPC has made in their lives; giving God credit for using CSPC to draw them to Himself and mature them. Some of them I knew pretty well, but I didn’t know their story. The other great thing? Very few of them had ever sat down with James, so it was a great time for each side to connect and start to develop those relationships. The spirit was just awesome. The generosity was overwhelming. When we finished the silent phase, we’d raised $8 million.
Next came the three weeks of the public phase, which was how we hoped to raise the rest of the funds. When we got to Commitment Sunday, I was in James’s office with him and some other staffers before the service, not real sure this was going to happen. James asked, ‘Should I be really direct?’ I said, ‘No, James, the whole team’s done a good job. Present the message that God laid on your heart several weeks ago. This is in God’s hands. We’ve all done what He’s called us to do. Don’t try to take control of it.’ Everyone in the room agreed. James spoke from the heart, everyone turned in their pledge cards, and then James hopped on a plane after the service for a trip to Scotland. On Tuesday, Torrey McMurray calls me and starts with, ‘You’re not going to believe this.’ Over 800 people gave to the campaign, and we raised $4.6 million in the public phase! The congregation surpassed our original goal (providing an excellent buffer against all project-related contingencies). And there were no crazy $2 million gifts or anything- there was one $100,000 gift, and that was the biggest individual pledge of the public phase. I get chills thinking about it. There is something really special going on at CSPC- we definitely are in a sweet season. There will be winter, of course, but this feels really spring-ish right now. There’s something about the maturity of our membership- people want to be responsible stewards of the work God’s done in them. That’s why they so joyfully reciprocate by giving the finances back, to support His ongoing faithfulness in the place where He’s been so faithful to them. Watching that up close has really grown my faith. It’s incredible. And when you lead an effort like this, which you can’t really script, you can’t help but be me more in awe of God at the end. When I learned the goal was met, my prayer was simple and direct: ‘Lord, we gave ourselves to you in this, did everything we were supposed to do, but you’re the One who did the work.