Southlands is a family with a mission to glorify our Father in the power of His Spirit by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of Jesus.
Every church in every generation is called to align itself with the Great Commission, but each church family fleshes out the mission in unique ways. We have been called to focus our efforts on planting healthy, gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered communities living on mission together. This is not the only way to make disciples, but we believe it is a vital way. Over the years, many people have gone, given, prayed, served, and led, making this church planting mission a reality. Countless lives have been transformed as people have gone to set up churches as colonies of heaven in towns and cities. Over the last 18 years Southlands has multiplied 14 times, with our next church plant taking place in Chiang Rai, Thailand in the Fall of 2016. As leaders, our desire has been to find a wise and sustainable way of multiplying as God leads us.
With this in mind, we embarked on a 3 in 3 vision in 2014, aiming to multiply 3 times in 3 years. Southlands Whittier was the 1st of 3, and the Chiang Rai, Thailand plant will be the 2nd of 3 multiplying initiatives. As you can imagine, these two plants require very different kinds of training and resources. 3 in 3 is not about expansionism. We believe it is a way of remaining faithful to the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. Obviously, all of this costs money, and God has provided for us in remarkable ways as we've sought to obey Him. As a church, we set aside money every month to go specifically towards church multiplication which has enabled us to save towards resourcing the Chiang Rai plant. However, we believe that God is calling us to develop something of a multiplication war chest that enables us to do more than just budget for the next initiative.
We do have an obstacle standing in the way of our desire to build this church planting war chest though. Thankfully we owe nothing on our property. However, we do pay around $10,000 a month towards a lawyers debt that was incurred in 2010 when we had to take legal measures to defend our church by-laws. By God's kindness we've been able to pay the lawyer's debt down from $830,000 in 2010 to $130,000 today. While the debt repayment represents good financial stewardship, it is increasingly difficult to do that, raise funds for church planting as well as run our local mission effectively.
We have another incentive for paying off our debt rapidly. Next year Southlands Church will be 50 years old! She is a testament to the faithful promise of Jesus to build His church. With our 50th birthday in mind, I began to look at the Biblical idea of the Jubilee. The Jubilee took place in Israel every 49 years. (Leviticus 25:8-10) Christopher Wright, in his book The Mission of God, explains that every 50th year, slaves would be released, debt would be cancelled, and people who had given up property because of poverty would be returned to their land. When Jesus began his ministry with Isaiah's description of the Jubilee, he said that it was fulfilled in Him. Jesus himself, is our Jubilee, having paid our debt and released us from the prison of sin. Jesus interpreted the Jubilee not so much as reclaiming land as much as reclaiming mission. He spoke of a year of favor in which the Spirit of the Lord would anoint the people of God to preach good news to the poor and bind up the broken hearted and set prisoners free. The Church continues Jesus' mission in the power of His Spirit. (Isaiah 61, Luke 4)
At the beginning of this year as we prayed about our 50th year, the elders sensed God speak to us about our Jubilee year being a year of cancelling our financial debt. This was not just to be for the sake of building improvements or staff hires, but primarily for the sake of reclaiming mission. We believe that God is leading us into a year of removing debt and reclaiming mission.
Over the past month we have cast the vision of the Jubilee Campaign to various forums in the church, asking people to prayerfully consider giving towards it, over above their normal tithes and offerings. We spoke of a giving day on Sunday the 1st of May, when we would all either pledge or give towards the Jubilee Campaign. Our aim is to raise $250,000 over the next year, enabling us to remove our debt and raise enough money for the 3rd plant in our 3 in 3 vision.
My family has personally committed to give 2% of our annual income, over and above our normal tithes and offering, towards the Jubilee Campaign in the coming year. I know of a number of people who have committed similar percentages, and more. What we are asking is for each person to commit to an amount or percentage according to their means. We are looking to share the giving load. Let's trust God for an outpouring of generosity this Sunday as we seek to remove debt and reclaim mission to the Glory of God.
To view a short video explaining the campaign click on Jubilee Campaign vimeo