"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grace Grieving 36: "Chapel of Change"--and it's not small change!

Vision360 First Church Plant
Church planter
          "Chapel of Change"

Mission Statement:
Giving Fresh Hope to Families

Vision Statement: 
Chapel of Change exist to be a multi-ethnic,
missional-minded community 

  that is a well of fresh hope for the weary,
    a catalyst of restoration for the broken,
    and an instrument of God to impact the world with the Gospel .

     Our leadership, as part of something called Vision360, recently announced the launching of the first of "50 Latino and multi-ethnic churches" they intend to plant in Long Beach over the next five years.
     So far this church seems to consist of four things: an earnest ethnic "church planter" who wants to help his community, a name worthy of Obama ("Chapel of Change"), a "Mission Statement," and a "Vision Statement"--innocuous phrases which can mean whatever one wants them to.
     As far as we can tell, this church has only a handful of potential members so far and not one core belief. "God" and "the Gospel" are mentioned and the word "Kingdom" is sprinkled liberally throughout, but none of these terms is defined. There are only statements like "We want to take the hands of families and walk them through the process of restoration. . . changing thousands and even millions of lives." They don't give any hints as to what this process entails, only assurances that it is "vibrant" and "life-transforming."  
     What isn't vague is that they want a lot of money-- $520,000 to be exact. Through a "Kingdom Fundraiser Campaign," our leadership makes that really clear in their announcement on the Grace website--multiple times:

     "[F]inances will be raised to sustain the church for three years. Will you partner with us in expanding the Kingdom of God by helping plant a new life-changing church?" 

     "Help us. . .raise funds to launch Chapel of Change. . ."   
  • Raise estimated $520,000.00 within two years to support church for three years
  • Would you consider being a monthly financial partner of $300.00, $100.00, $50.00 or $25.00
  • Any amount you can give, large or small, will help expand God's Kingdom
     "All checks will be made out to ____ and the memo designated to ______."
                                "Mail checks to ________. 

"It takes people who are willing to invest financially. You can play a vital role in expanding God's Kingdom by investing in Chapel of Change."

     They're vague about how they'll "expand God's Kingdom" with your money but they aren't at all vague about how much money they want, how to make out checks and where to mail them. (Donations to Vision 360 go to an "Office of Philanthropy.") 
     They want donations immediately to fund this as yet non-existent church--and that's only for its first three years.      
     Remember, this will be the first of 50 churches they intend to plant in Long Beach. If they plan to raise the same amount for the other 49, that's $26,000,000.
     We are sure there are already 50 ethnic churches in Long Beach, store-front churches that are struggling financially, churches that preach a clearly-defined Christian message, the whole gospel of Jesus Christ as given in the Bible. What if our church gave each one of those already existing "Hispanic and multi-ethnic" churches $520,000? Wouldn't that be more practical? For good measure we could send a family from our church to join them in helping their neighborhood flourish.
     It's a "chapel of change" all right--and it ain't small change.   

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