God used Converge Cornerstone Fund and Professional Building Services (PBS) to revive Southfield Church's dream of building a new multi-purpose facility among the fields "white unto harvest" in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
When God says, "it's time," get ready to be completely overwhelmed! Overwhelmed. That word keeps resonating from everyone watching Southfield Church's journey over the past 24 months. These song lyrics say it perfectly, "I hear the sound of Your voice, all at once it's a gentle and thundering noise, oh God, all that You are... all that You've done... is so overwhelming."
Rewind, however, to January 2013. Southfield was overwhelmed in a different way. We felt stuck. Five years earlier we had outgrown our church home in Joliet, IL, and moved to a larger, temporary facility in Channahon. We wanted to reach the fields "white unto harvest" just south of Joliet.
The move was successful a evidenced by 46 baptisms a year later; but the financial crises of 2008 continued to hit our area particularly hard. Grundy County suffered from the highest unemployment rate in the state. So we put our building and fundraising plans on hold as we waited for God's direction.
By January 2013, life as a portable church had begun to take its toll. Our growth potential was diminishing and we began losing our ability to dream. Then God surprised us. PBS, a Christian design/build firm, presented us with a building plan that beautifully met our needs and provided a firm, guaranteed cost Still, we needed additional funds to finally make our dream a reality. We had two options: continue waiting until we raised enough funds, or borrow. We knew we'd languish if we waited much longer, but we did not want to borrow. We had seen too many churches drown in debt. Determined to make an informed decision, we collected information and advice from Eric Mansfield at Converge Cornerstone Fund. God used Eric's wise counsel to help us view borrowing a portion of what we needed as an option.
Two years ago we couldn't have even dreamed that we'd open our new church home on Christmas Eve 2014 to a standing-room-only crowd. God led. We just followed and watched Him overwhelm us at every turn. Even as our opening day drew near, God wove together the theme of our first service— the fact that He chose to RECLAIM us. We were like old pallets destined for the burn pile, but He chose to reclaim us and make us into something new. You'll find reminders that we've been reclaimed everywhere: reclaimed pallets used for the stage; reclaimed fencing made into coat racks; reclaimed furniture; even reclaimed wood fashioned into a cross. They're all physical reminders of God's work in our lives.
As we look back, we can't imagine working with anyone better than Cornerstone Fund and PBS. Both helped turn a process that can be complicated and frustrating, not only into a joy, but into relationships we'll treasure. John Bicker, an overseer at Southfield, summarized it this way, "God initiated the process. God sustained the efforts and GOD brought to fruition the results. The faithfulness and goodness of God were evident at every step of the journey. Six years of waiting was hard, but it shaped us to serve Him better. In the end, we're grateful for our wilderness experience and we agree with Solomon, 'Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.' Ecclesiastes 7:8."
There is no doubt God used Cornerstone Fund and PBS to revive our dream and overwhelm our community. All we can say is, "Thank you!"