Updated: Feb 3
Dear Friends through Christ Jesus:
A vision is a picture painted in the mind. Two months ago, I promised to try and share that picture of Peace Lutheran Church. Visions are hard to paint and even harder to convey clearly with others. Funny thing about visions. If enough people see the same vision it can usually be painted. If not, then it will simply remain a good idea on a blank canvas. I realize this is a long letter, but I hope and pray enough will see what I see.
Folks, I have virtually no talent. Can’t sing or dance, can’t work with my hands, need I go on? But God has given me the gift of gab and seeing things that could be. Done it all my life. In the steel business, I started out with the largest scrap company in the United States (Hyman Michaels), in 1979. I saw the potential of moving a good amount of that scrap into the secondary markets with tremendous profits. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of turning scrap into something useful, but then I remember the Word of God can do the same thing. (The ministry just pays a lot less than steel). But it was not just in the world of steel I see stuff that could be, the ministry of the Lord has provided vision after vision in all the congregations I have been called to. Each church God has allowed me to serve was in better shape when I left—six to be specific. I blow my own horn because are you are not going to buy a hair growing product from a bald-headed man.
But can you perhaps buy into and begin to see a vision from someone who has had a little God given success? After all, it is about the only gift God gave this son of Floyd.
“The church is the assembly of a group of people among whom the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.” That is what Church is. Word and Sacrament are the foundation of the Church. Many visions can stem from this point, but the goal should be the same. Through Word and Sacrament, our group of people begin to share the Word become flesh and serve the needs of those around us—those in our community and those within our midst. My picture of the church has always been and will always be like a great big family. The question of “how big of a family” will be different for each church.
I can clearly see Peace’s family of 100-125 saints and sinner worshiping together by the end of 2022, and 200-250 still saints and sinners celebrating Word and Sacrament within five years.
Two hundred plus people is a really big family! A family of God where race, sexual preference, party affiliation, occupation, or nothing can break the bonds of our baptism. We get to know each other’s faces and names. We share stories and over time rejoice in their celebrations and mourn in their sorrow.
In the beginning, Peace will build our “base” through people “longing for the worship of their youth.” Of course, this means we are targeting the older generation of adults, and some may claim we are abandoning our youth, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This will be our base from which we begin to span out. After all, those who are retired or getting close to it seem to have some knowledge of tithing. Right now, with the assets we currently have, Peace Lutheran Church offers one of, or the best traditional worship service found in the area. Especially, for those longing for the worship of their youth.
In addition, the liturgical setting is beginning to make a comeback among the younger generation and disenfranchised. They are tired of the “theology of glory,” because it does not work, and they seemed to be intrigued with the mysteries we offer. That is what Peace does each and every week. We celebrate the “mysteries” of our faith—Word and Sacrament, with a return to our baptism through confessions, the creeds of the ancient church, the Lord’s prayer, the corporate reading of God’s word and inspirational messages that comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and always being sent back into the world strengthen with body and blood of communion. To reach this younger or unchurched group, I see a beautiful outdoor worship center in-between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, offering an outdoor Saturday evening worship experience.
In the past, a Saturday worship service has always done well. They serve as a type of feeder into our family of God. Sure, we could simply open up the sanctuary and appeal to people who work on Sunday, but folks we live in Florida. What a great opportunity to reach those who never thought they would set foot into a church. It is a small investment for basically starting a new church. The cost is about $25,000. The outdoor worship center should pay for itself within two years. Plus, a picnic shelter can serve numerous exciting functions in the future. (Potlucks, family gatherings, outdoor classes, confirmation, etc...)
Peace Lutheran currently does a good job of using our beautiful facilities for ministry. There’s AA, NA, Food Panty, Meals on Wheels and various community groups that meet here, but I see more.
· I see this Lampstand being a center of weekly Bible Study, various classes and offering the older population, or the lonely a place to go…crafts, quilting, or whatever people desire to do in God’s honor.
· I see 50-70 seniors gathering weekly to learn through our Shepherd Center.
· I see women’s and men’s ministries giving purpose for our adult lives.
· I see in the near future a strong confirmation and youth ministries.
· I still see in the not-so-distant future Peace Place as a center for weddings, funerals and family functions in our newly remodeled old sanctuary, making use of our fellowship hall, and our new picnic shelter.
· I see within the couple of years an assistant/intern/partner/pastor to help us run and grow all the ministries we provide.
· I see Peace Lutheran Church being a beacon of hope in Palm Bay for the years to come!
Yes, I believe God has given me the gift of gab and seeing things that could be. Done it all my life. I hope and pray you all can begin to see a similar vision. The next question is, “How do we start painting?”
Our first step is to inform all people in the surrounding area as to what goes on within our walls. I’ve mentioned over and over again that the most effective way to evangelize is through “Word of Mouth.” A personal invite tops all other methods of outreach. Yet inviting seems to be quite difficult for the average Christian, plus timing is everything. It is hard for us to know the heart of a friend or family member, and whether or not that person is ready to hear the life-giving, life-saving message of the gospel. Peace will continue sharing our messages on Facebook and perhaps run an occasional add in the local paper. But other than invite, invite, invite, the most effective and cost-effective way to reach people is with a sign, a big, beautiful sign. Our current sign advertises that we are struggling. A person cannot read the outdated small print.
· I can see this big, beautiful sign sharing what happens within our walls and spreading a little joy throughout this community.
When we sold the unused property, our buyer submitted a study that included traffic patterns for Port Malabar Blvd. Did you know, on the average 11,490 cars pass by Peace Lutheran Church every single day? We know that human nature is affected by repetition. If we start seeing something every day, it becomes engraved in our minds. Now imagine those 11,490 people, some with passengers, some driving by every day, most living in our neighborhood, every day seeing a glimmer of hope about God, seeing an invitation to whatever we may have going on, or seeing sermon topics for the week. And not just a sign they could read if they are paying attention, but a sign that reaches out and grabs them, saying, “Look Here! Notice This!”
The cost of this project is $51,700. To some it sounds like a lot of money, and it is. But it is the second-best way to advertise, and when one breaks the numbers down for a ten-year period it comes to a grand total of $10 per day for fifteen years (Expected life of a sign). Allow me to ask, would we be willing to pay a person $10 a day to invite 100 people to our church? Of course we would, but we will find no takers. Our sign can reach 11,490 people in one day, every day.
A valid argument could be made to down scale and perhaps buy a smaller sign. Well, we did look into that. To simply replace what we have now, same design, same size, with color is almost $30,000 (signs ain’t cheap, but in the right setting they work). A cheaper sign (2 X 8) is a possibility, but it will only attract those who are actually paying close attention to their surroundings. The larger sign (6 X 8) will make that person see us. “Look Here! Notice This!” That is what we want—over and over again—human nature. Plus, we are not competing with any other signs, ours only.
Ok, now for the fun part. How do we pay for a shelter house and a beautiful new sign?
Fortunately, Peace Lutheran has options. Many churches at this time are running out of options. When we sold the property, a gift of over $300,000 was deposited.
About half, $150,000 was paid toward the mortgage and $100,000 placed into a Thrivent Investment account. Approximately, $13,000 went to paint the church and the balance placed in savings. However, this past year we have drawn upon savings to meet expenses, due to the virus.
Since we are not quite certain how quickly people will return to church, I would like to see the investment and the savings remain untouched, partially as a safety net, but more so, to have funds available for future plans, especially, once we have reached enough saints and sinners to fund our ministries in place.
Instead of using our own funds, I think it would be wiser to refinance our current mortgage. Show Thrivent our plan and borrow at least $75,000 to jump start Peace Lutheran. Right now, our Thrivent investment is paying more than the cost to refinance. Plus, we will have a security blanket. Plus, we will be able to evangelize with money that was a gift from God—the sale of property we did not need. Plus, we have still reduced our mortgage by $75,000. Plus, when we grow to the glory of God, we can always pay off the mortgage at a later date.
Sorry to be so long winded, but I wanted to paint the clearest picture possible for something that is very important—The Church of Christ Jesus—Peace Lutheran. Also remember, you only had to read this. I had to write it.
Allow me to close by saying, I am lucky to have 1-2 hours a day where my brain is not focused upon the work of the Lord. My mind is always upon Scripture, the Church, the people within our walls, and the people who have not yet heard. This is what I do, and this is what I love. I just hope and pray that this family of God, called Peace Lutheran can see a similar vision. I realize it is a lot to take in, and take on, but can we afford not to try?
Pray about this vision. Reread the letter and feel free to call and ask me any questions or raise any concerns.
May the One seated upon the Throne, the Slaughtered Lamb, and the All-Encompassing Spirit bless you, now, and forever.
In Christian Love,
Pastor David Trexler