Some people are full of bright ideas. They begin projects with great enthusiasm. but completing the job is another thing. Jesus talked about this:
“Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'” (Luke 14:28-29)
My first ministry position, at the age of 27, was as pastor of Evangelical Baptist Church in Sharon, MA. This was a small, idealistic congregation of about ten key families, that had split from the century-old First Baptist Church at the center of town. They were going to get it right by embracing a more Biblical theology and by being fully committed to fulfilling Jesus’ evangelistic mission in the community. Within a year or two of beginning to meet in members’ homes, they bought a prime piece of property on Main Street and, under the leadership of a building contractor who was part of the group, they broke ground and poured the foundation. Realizing that they had more faith than funds, they put a temporary roof covering over the below-ground space they had been able to afford, and divided it into a meeting room, a kitchen and a couple of classrooms. That was the situation when I began there as pastor. As I circulated in the community and was introduced as the new pastor in town, someone might ask, “At which church?” Nobody outside of the congregation could pronounce the name “Evangelical,” so it was easier to say, “You know, the basement church.” For some people, this was another way of saying, “Those people who began to build, but weren’t able to finish.”
It took about seven years for the congregation to regather strength and energy enough to finish the church’s superstructure. It turned out to be beautiful, a graceful brick building with white and trim, in a classic New England style. It was rejuvenating to the congregation to be the people who (finally) finished what they started.
It’s surprising that the thing I liked most while I was reminiscing about this was the seven years’ lag time. It made me feel good to remember from my own experience that a visionary project can become stalled for a time, then start up again with renewed vigor. During the down time, it seemed hopeless that we would ever worship upstairs, sitting on white pews, hearing hymns of faith echo from a high, vaulted ceiling. But it happened. And God brought this about through the same group of people who had fumbled the project for a while because of inadequate planning
It’s my guess that there are a lot of readers of this article who have had dreams of building a tower, but have gotten no farther than the foundation. Maybe there are a few false-start foundations around you that remind you of your inability to follow through. It feels like people must be looking at you and saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”
I’ve got an idea. There’s an organization you can read about on line called “Kickstarters.” Three young men began this entrepreneurial business in 2009. They invite people to apply for grants to fund projects they think have a chance of succeeding. Kickstarters emails an appeal for support to an ever-growing list of interested persons, asking them to give a modest amount to “kickstart” this worthy project. In the first three years of its operation, Kickstarters claims a 43.85% success rate for projects underwritten by their voluntary donors.
So, why don’t we agree together to be spiritual kickstarters for each others’ unfinished tower projects? Instead of money, we’ll use prayer! We’ll have to come up with a different name to avoid copyright or domain issues. Share you thoughts about this by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we succeed in encouraging each other into renewed construction on our dreams, towers will be sprouting up all over the place.
— Pastor George Van Alstine