Tag Archives: Atlanta

Churchfunding a House in Atlanta: Official Launch

Do you want to help our family buy a house in Atlanta? Thanks to widespread enthusiasm and the support of key friends and advisers, we’ve decided to try an experiment in churchfunding—crowdfunding done by the church of Jesus Christ. (See here for the story of how this idea began, and see here for our decision to move to Atlanta.)

Update: See Update 6 for how to send the money you have pledged. See also Update 1, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, and Update 7 to read the unfolding story. As of 8:00 a.m., 10/30/2015, the pledge total is $69,635.05.

Before I share another word, I want to declare our full dependence on our sovereign God: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). This plan is in God’s hands. If it will bring glory to Christ, may it prosper! If not, may he revise it thoroughly as he sees best.

In This Post

Click on these titles to navigate within this post:

Basic Information

The big idea:

  • Raise $80,000 to buy a house in Atlanta, as we move there to join Steve and Christy Smucker in church planting.
  • Anyone may contribute a loan of any size toward this goal. We are offering 10% interest (total, not compounded) on your loan. Some supporters are surprising us by offering interest-free loans or gifts instead.
  • We will repay $500 monthly, so that everyone is repaid in random order sometime within the next 15 years or less. (If we are able, we would like to repay sooner.) 10/30/15 update: Thanks to gifts and interest-free loans, we are now on target to complete repayments three years earlier than expected! So you can now expect repayment sometime in the next 11 years and 9 months, not 15 years. 🙂

How to get involved:

  1. Pledge your level of support as soon as possible.  Send your name, the amount you are pledging, your mailing address, your phone number, and your email address to dghousefund@gmail.com.  (We need this data for repayment purposes). Also, if you want to send an interest-free loan or a gift instead, please clearly specify in your email.
  2. Tell other potential lenders. Then watch the pledges grow. The more widely this is shared, the more likely we will reach our goal in time to make an offer on the house we have selected. Please share widely! We will post updates on both Facebook (Dwight Gingrich House Fund) and my blog (subscribe here), so signing up to one of these will be the easiest way to stay informed.
  3. Send your pledge money when we request it. When pledges near a total of $60,000, we will ask you to send your pledge ASAP. (Update: We have now passed that mark, but still email a pledge before you send your money.)
  4. Pray as we make an offer on a house.
  5. Praise God as we announce a house purchase.
  6. Wait to receive a “surprise” loan repayment sometime in the next 15 years.

We have already received about $10,000 in pledged loans and gifts! The pledges range in size from $75 to $2000, with most being either $250 or $500. Any amount is helpful!

That’s all some of you will need to know. You may contact us right now to offer your pledge, or read on for more details.

Why You Might Want to Help

You will want to help if…

  • You know Zonya and me and want to encourage us as our family moves to Atlanta.
  • You know Steve and Christy and want to bless them by helping their new teammates join them.
  • You want to see an ABC (Anabaptist-accented, Bible-based, Christ-centered) church planted in Atlanta.
  • You think Christians today should find ways to imitate the mutual care of the early church (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).
  • You want unbelievers to witness Christians loving each other.
  • You want to join a 21st-century version of an Amish barn-raising.
  • You like the church better than the bank.
  • You want this experiment to be repeated by others.
  • You are happy to see us leave Leon, IA. (Okay, we hope that’s a joke!)

And if you want to help but chose not to, we understand that, too. 🙂

A Note About Gifts

We are not asking for gifts. This is designed as a reproducible experiment in God’s people offering microloans. But God’s people also give. So if you wish to give a gift, it will be a great blessing, and we will humbly say Thank You!

If you decide to give, please be aware that only 90% of your gift will go toward our fundraising total. The other 10% will be divided between two charitable needs:

  1. Christian Aid Ministries’ “Middle Eastern Crisis” programs—caring for those made homeless by war.
  2. The Missions Training Center in Queens, NY. This ministry of the Biblical Mennonite Alliance has a goal of raising about $100,000 more toward their building fund yet this year. (Their projected total purchase cost is about 1.1 to 1.3 million dollars.)

Questions and Answers



  • What is your target date? As soon as possible! We are ready to make an offer as soon as we have the funds.
  • Why $80,000? We are interested in a house that is listed at $75,000, and we heard a cash offer for $70,000 was recently rejected. $80,000 allows us to offer the full asking price, plus have room to either offer a bit more or do some repairs.
  • How is $60,000 enough for making an offer? Our families are giving us gifts that will provide about $24,750. While we expect to use these gifts for repairs and a little remodeling (knocking out walls to turn a bedroom into a dining room), they would allow us to make an offer once our pledges reach about $60,000. Then additional pledges would be used for repairs and remodeling.
  • Why shouldn’t I send the money immediately? Two reasons: (1) If we fall far short of our fundraising goal and need to apply for a loan to make up the difference, unusual cash flow patterns in our bank account could make it harder to qualify for a loan. (2) If we end up with too little to buy a house, there is no use you having sent your loan.
  • When will repayments begin? Repayments will begin, God willing, either (a) one month after we close on a house or (b) 6 months after we first asked the loans to be sent to us—whichever comes first. Thus (a) you can expect repayments to begin no later than 6 months after sending us your money and (b) we can have a 6-month window for finding another house, should our first selection fall through. Please note: If we need to supplement this churchfunding with a small bank loan, the bank loan will need to be repaid first. However, the churchfunding loans will still be targeted for repayment within the originally-intended 15 years.
  • Have you tried other loan options? Yes. We applied for a loan from a Georgia bank recommended by our realtor, but due to my lack of proof of past income in Atlanta they required a cosigner. (Our Iowa income was sufficient, just in the “wrong” state.) Then, since my cosigner was out of state, they could only offer an FHA loan. This kind of loan comes with lots of paperwork and restrictions, such as that an FHA inspector needs to make a list of house repairs that must be done by FHA-approved licensed contractors within a 30-day window, with ongoing inspections and… So we contacted Anabaptist Financial, but they are not yet certified to provide loans for primary residences in Georgia. That’s when I posted my just-for-fun Facebook post that snowballed into what you are reading here. We think this has potential for being more Christ-honoring than a bank loan, anyway!
  • Isn’t 10% interest high? 10% sounds high for a home loan, but it’s actually very low since it’s not compounded. Structuring the loans this way will have a total cost to our family of less than 2% APR over the life of the repayment period, saving us thousands of dollars in interest compared to a traditional bank loan.
  • What are your plans for income in Atlanta? We have several income streams in mind: (1) I plan to continue writing for Open Hands, which provided about a quarter of our income in the past year. (2) I plan to teach piano from home. This was our largest source of income during our four years in Queens, NY, during which time we were paying $1,200/month in rent. (3) I am applying for part-time work with Choice Books, which is expanding in Atlanta, and already have received verbal confirmation that  employment is likely. We also have some emergency savings that we expect we may draw on during our first year or two in Atlanta, while piano teaching and other options ramp up to speed.
  • Can you describe the house you are hoping to buy? We are interested in an older brick house with a little front room that would be great for piano teaching. (Update: This house is now pending sale to someone else, but may return to market. See Update 4 for more details.) The main floor is about 1500 sq./ft., with three bedrooms plus one we’d convert into a dining room. We hope to reserve one room for guests and might use another for hosting a university student. The living room is not huge, but large enough to host a small house church gathering. The upstairs is cute, with sloped ceilings and room for the girls to sleep, play, and do home school.  The best thing about the house is its location: an easy walk from Steves’, a library, and a couple parks, and on a street where visitors from near and far would be comfortable finding us. Sorry, I won’t post a link to the house here, because I don’t want the seller to see hundreds of extra people scouting it out! 🙂
  • How will you keep track of so many loans? Two financially-minded friends (see “who is responsible” below) created a detailed spreadsheet specifically designed for this project.
  • How is this different from GoFundMe? Not that much different, besides the fact that no one will be taking about 8% off the top like GoFundMe does. Also, most GoFundMe campaigns are for gifts, not loans.
  • Is this legal? Just to be sure, we asked an attorney to review this plan, and he didn’t see any problems.
  • Who is responsible for this churchfunding idea? Three answers: (1) I confess I first posted the idea, though in jest. (2) As people started liking the idea, small businessman Jesse Kropf first sketched how it might actually work, and CPA Rodney Troyer added his expertise. Together they and I brainstormed for several days about how to make it work. Jesse is no longer taking any leadership role in this project, but is cheering from the sidelines. Rodney is remaining directly involved to provide crucial technical assistance and financial advice, especially during the initial stage of recruiting pledges and funds. (3) I take full and sole responsibility for all repayment responsibilities associated with this project. While I heartily thank Jesse and Rodney for their essential help, they bear no responsibility whatsoever for repaying any loans. If I fail to repay these loans, I give permission in advance for my brothers and sisters in the church of Jesus Christ to discipline me as described in Matthew 18 and related NT texts. I urge my co-church planters and my personal advisers to hold me accountable to this commitment and give them permission to help craft appropriate repayment plans if I fall short, whether through moral failure or financial difficulty.

Legal Disclaimers

You are lending money to us, Dwight and Zonya Gingrich, on a personal basis. This is a trust-based transaction, and there is no legal recourse if you are not paid back. We are promising to repay the loans, and we will do our utmost to keep our promise, including selling assets if necessary, but these loans are not collateralized by our home or assets. You agree not to take legal action against Dwight and Zonya (or Jesse Kropf, Rodney Troyer, or our church partners or advisers) in the event of any problems with this process. Please do not invest money that you can’t afford to lose, or money that you will need sooner than 15 years from now. All investors agree to be paid back at a random time in the next 15 years, at the specified rate. You agree that the interest you may receive will not be compounded or adjusted for time loaned. In addition, if you ask to be repaid sooner than the random schedule provides for, you agree to forfeit any interest owed to you, at our discretion. These loans are not secured or insured by the FDIC, are not bank deposits, may lose value, are not bank guaranteed, and are not insured by any federal government agency. By sending money to Dwight Gingrich via mail or electronic payment, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

Addendum: If, for legal reasons, someone making a larger contribution (say, in excess of $2,500) needs a promissory note, we would be glad to provide one.

Personal note: If you are not comfortable lending under these conditions, then please do not lend. We will not be offended! We have no interest in recruiting lenders who may later turn around and try to sue us if we are unable to repay on schedule. Most of the best things in life (like marriage and church families and even a working economy) are built on trust, with no certain guarantees about the future. They involve opening ourselves up to potential hurt. In accepting your loans we, too, open ourselves up to potential hurt. If we cannot repay, many precious relationships could be damaged. But I have no guarantee of anything even as small as my next breath! So I live by faith, resting in the only One who has all in perfect control. It is for the sake of his name, and the name of his son, Jesus Christ the Lord, that we embark on this experiment!

And if I may dream just a little… it would please me greatly to see this experiment repeated many times by God’s people. I look forward to the day when I can help churchfund the needs of another Kingdom citizen!

I’ll end by quoting this from a friend and mentor, who is exactly the kind of supporter we welcome. I asked him a few days ago to either withdraw or reaffirm his support for this churchfunding plan. This was his response:

I still think it is a really great idea and would give people like me who love you a chance to be part of your lives and move to Atlanta. Frankly, I’m not worried about things going South. If that happens and you couldn’t pay me back I would feel like I helped a really great family. If you can set up a simple tracking system and not lose track of any person who contributed, I think that would be great. It doesn’t have to be super complicated.

Thank you for your interest!

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight Gingrich

Printable file of this post:
Dwight Gingrich House Fund – Handout

If you have questions or responses, feel free to contact me privately or write a comment below. I may update the Q&A section above based on your responses.

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In Which a Strange Plan Is Hatched on Facebook (News Bulletin)

A lot can happen in three days. Jesus rose again on the third day, you know. And over the last three days a lesser (but certainly related) drama has been unfolding before my eyes. I’m tempted to call it “the miracle on Facebook.”

Update: This plan is now live! Please click HERE to read all about it. If it gives you joy to join in, your help will be a great blessing!

Monday evening I posted this on Facebook, just for the fun of it:

If each of my blog subscribers would loan us $500, we could make a cash purchase right now on a home in Atlanta. Then we could pay back one creditor each month over the next 11 years, holding a draw to see who is the lucky loaner. That sounds kind of exciting, eh? Or here’s another option: If each of my Facebook friends would loan only $100, we’d be even further ahead. And we could pay back FIVE people each month!

Hey, they told me to think outside the box… 🙂

#GodWillProvide #StillDiscoveringHow

(Neither Zonya nor I can recall whether she had the idea first, or me, or if we both came up with the wacky suggestion at the same time.)

Pretty soon I was seeing comments like this:

Love it!

Its a deal.

Tell me where to send the money and whether I should send $100 or $500 🙂

I’d be glad to help.

Let’s do it!

And a bit later, comments like this one from businessman Jesse Kropf:

I like it… got my mind whirling on how you would track everything. 😉 It’s probably not likely that 100% of your FB friends will take you up on the offer, so how about this:

Crowdsource the loan on FB in increments of $250. Then you only need 310 p
eople to join in to reach your goal. Make it more attractive by promising to repay $275 for each segment of the loan, and you will pay back 2 segments per month by random drawing. 10% might sound like a lot, but it’s actually very little with this structure. With a regular 30 year mortgage, most people pay 100% interest over the life of the loan, with an APR in the 5% range.

So if one person decides to loan you $2500, they will be paid back in random segments of $250 + $25 interest, like everyone else. The money will return sometime in the next 11 years.

What do you think? I just might decide to try it myself… 😉

And this from a CPA named Rodney Troyer:

Referencing Jesse’s comment above: 310/2 = 155 months = 12 years, 11 months. The last person to get paid, after almost 13 years, would make .075% in interest, (compounded monthly). This is about what banks are paying for savings accounts right now. Everyone else would do better than that (some much better). Your interest rate would be 1.491%, something almost anyone could live with, I think.

This comes down to whether your friends trust you more than they trust a bank! Haha!

Seriously, though, I’m in for $250, just for the experience and the pleasant surprise sometime in the future of finding a $275 check in my mailbox at random. I’ll volunteer to track it for you, too, if you would want help with that.

And this from another businessman, Linford Berry:

I think you ought to take Jesse and Rodney up on their ideas and offer. And then you can have some more material for you blogs regarding this experiment. I’m in.

And this from pastor Japheth Stauffer:

We are looking at doing something like this amongst our local body for more brotherhood interaction and bonding. We were thinking more of a business sense though, but we need houses as much as we need work!
Dwight, I’ve never met you, but count me in for $250 if you decide to go this way, but I want no interest!

And, as of 11 p.m. on October 7, here is the last comment:

I am blessed even though I don’t know any of you. Jesus said by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if have love one for another.

And already nearly $6000 has been offered in pledged loans!

So yes, folks, it’s actually happening: thanks to the initiative of Jesse and Rodney, it looks like we’re trying a new experiment in unconventional loans. Some call it crowdsourcing or, more specifically, crowdfunding. In this case, I think we could call it churchfunding, since the crowd is the result of Christ’s church in action.

On Sunday just a week and a half ago, when we were in Atlanta visiting Steve Smuckers (our church planting teammates), I shared some teaching on the biblical imagery of the Body of Christ and its members. My central point was that the Body of Christ is larger than any one local congregation. Thus every local congregation must remember that it belongs to something bigger than itself. We need the Church beyond our local gatherings.

Well, I preached it, and now I’m experiencing it. We are experiencing the gifts of the Body of Christ in action, doing things that we could not do or even dream of doing on our own. Doing them in the love of Christ. And we are deeply moved by what is happening.

Perhaps this is an experiment, a prototype, an idea that can be duplicated for the benefit of many. I, for one, would much rather pay interest to my brothers and sisters in Christ than to a bank that is probably driven by godless goals. (And I don’t have a problem with charging interest, either, except when giving loans to the destitute. But that exegetical discussion is for another time.)

So stay tuned for more details. Jesse and Rodney and I are trying to iron out a plan that will, God willing, make it easy for anyone who wishes (at least Americans…) to participate. It should look much like the initial brainstorming above. If it doesn’t work, it will still be an expression of the love of Christ. And if it does work, it just might be God’s surprising way of providing a house for us in Atlanta, as we move there to help form a new Christ-community in that city.

This all still seems so unexpected and strange to me that I’m not quite sure how to end this post. Hopefully you don’t think we’re off our collective rockers. 🙂

If you do, please pray for us. We certainly need it.

If you don’t, pray anyway. And then feel free to join us in this experiment in churchfunding. Maybe God can be honored by an idea hatched on Facebook, and maybe 21st century technology can help us imitate the mutual care of the early church. The resurrected Christ is as alive as he ever was, moving his Body in strange and wonderful ways.

Questions or responses? Hold tight for more details, read about how we decided to move to Atlanta, or fire away in the comments below.

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight for Zonya, Priya, Shani, and Ayla

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A Is for Atlanta

God willing, our family will soon be moving to Atlanta, Georgia. In my last post I dropped some hints about us moving to “really bad farmland,” so I thought I should share the news here. Continue reading for a rambling post full of theological and personal reflection.

Five years ago this month we moved to Iowa from New York City, after about seven years in The Big Apple. We came here to support my wife Zonya’s parents as her father’s health declined. Since Albert died in December, we have been “in transition mode,” asking God what’s next for our family. Many options and invitations came our way. Of the many, The Big Peach (aka “Atlanta”) gradually claimed center spot in our thoughts.

I’ve never felt good at making major decisions, but I have learned (slowly, repeatedly) that we can fully trust God to to care and to guide as he sees fit.

There is much mystery in how God guides our steps. I do not believe that it is normally the case that God has one detailed, perfect plan for our lives that he is keeping secret from us, a plan that we must beg him to supernaturally reveal lest we fall short of his perfect will. When we read about God’s will for us in Scripture, it is a much deeper matter: His will is that we be conformed to Christ in all dimensions of our character. In the specific “accidental” choices of life, he usually gives us much freedom. For example, in the choice of a marriage partner, we are to marry “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39) rather than to look for Mr. or Ms. Right. So the normal call in decision-making is a call to walk in wisdom within the moral boundaries God has provided.

But then there are also times when God speaks dramatically into our lives, giving very specific guidance: “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Often such special guidance comes unexpectedly, both in the sense that we aren’t seeking special guidance at the time and that the content of the guidance surprises us. Yet Scripture also records multiple cases of God’s people specially seeking him during times when important decisions are made: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for us Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'” (Acts 13:2).

To sum it up, it seems we should follow the example that Paul shares in passages such as Romans 1:9-15, Romans 15:18-32, and 1 Corinthians 16:5-9. Garry Friesen summarizes Paul’s approach in six bullet points:

  • Purposes: Paul adopted spiritual goals that were based on divine revelation.
  • Priorities: He arranged his goals into wise priorities determining what should be done first, second, third, and so on.
  • Plans: Next, he devised a strategy for accomplishing his objectives.
  • Prayer: Through prayer, he submitted himself and his plans to the sovereign will of God…
  • Perseverance: When providentially hindered from accomplishing his plans, he assumed that the delay was God’s sovereign will. This conviction freed him from discouragement…
  • Presentation: Paul explained his decisions on the basis of God’s moral will and his personal application of wisdom. 1

I—like some other people whose decisions I have respected—have found Garry Friesen’s book Decision Making and the Will of God to be freeing. I might tweak Friesen’s discussion in a few spots, such as his understanding of special guidance through spiritual gifts such as prophecy. But I think his approach sets a strong biblical foundation for making decisions that please God. (For a very similar approach in a much shorter span, see Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will.) Turn your heart passionately after God and trust, child-like, that he will guide you.

So how has God been guiding us toward Atlanta? I’ll give the “short” version in another series of bullet points:

  • We began intentionally praying for guidance immediately upon Albert’s passing in December, and we began asking counsel of long-time friends and advisers early this year.
  • God began working much earlier. I’ll start with my shoulder problems which began about June, 2014—though I could trace God’s sovereign hand back to my birth and before. These shoulder problems drastically reduced my hours at work for over half a year—which gave me much more time to launch this website.
  • A “Steve Smucker” sent me a Facebook message in mid-February that included this:

Dwight, I’ve been following your posts for a short while now and have been thoroughly enjoying your thoughts and writings… I am curious about a statement you made a while back that seemed to insinuate the possibility of you relocating to another area… [A friend] and I have been in discussions for the last few months about the possibility of starting an Anabaptist church here in the city… Last week your name came to my mind for some reason. My wife and I have been wishing for several years to have another couple or two join us in ministering to the community. We have contacted two other couples in the last year but it has not worked for either. Obviously there would need to be a lot of discussion to see if we are compatible both in our spiritual understanding and vision as well as general life. As I mentioned before I have found many of your posts resonating strongly within me… I know this is abrupt and as far as I know you don’t really know myself or my wife. We do see a lot of opportunities to serve and witness throughout Atlanta and see it as an area that is needing a rebirth of genuine Scriptural teaching as well as authentic Christianity in our lifestyle. Please prayerfully consider this. I completely understand if you already have somewhere God is taking you and your family, if there is hesitation about us due to not knowing us or any other reason, so if this is something you know right away is not for you feel free to let me know.

  • This message led to some written dialogue, followed by several long phone calls.
  • By May, Zonya and I felt peace about reducing our many options to a short list of three, one being Atlanta. (I’m leaving out some really significant pondering and dialogue regarding other options.)
  • In June we visited Atlanta. I think it was my first time in the city. It was certainly our first time meeting Steve and Christy and their family. On our way there, I told Zonya that this felt a bit like going on a first date: We might walk away from this never to return, saying “Well, that was interesting!” Or it might be all fuzzy and unclear when we’re done. Or it might be instantly life-changing. Which was it? Well, all ten of us (they have three young boys, we have three young girls) hit it off famously and immediately during our four-day visit. Within minutes the children were happily playing by themselves, and we adults spent long hours comparing life stories and personal convictions and biblical understandings and visions for church and ministry. By the time we left, we knew we had at minimum gained new friends.
  • The rest of June and July we communicated more with the Smuckers and also followed up on our other short list options. (One of these is part-time teaching at a Bible school. We have applied and are awaiting a response.)
  • August arrived and we still felt peace and desire regarding Atlanta. So we specially gave the month of August to God, inviting him to say “no” or “not yet” regarding Atlanta if he saw fit. We told him we would say “yes” to Atlanta if he didn’t send an orange or red light before September 1. During this month Zonya and I took time each week to fast, pray, and listen. Steve and I also exchanged character references. All the references that Steve provided spoke highly of his character, and I also had a really good phone visit with his dad, Elmer (formerly a bishop in Lott, Texas).
  • It was a bit hard to sleep the night of August 31, and not just because I was sleeping in a tent in the backyard with my family. When we woke up in the morning, we finally made our decision: We were moving to Atlanta!

We’ve had some interesting conversations with our children in the past few days. Several days ago our oldest (six) asked me, “So, what church will we be part of in Atlanta?” I told her that Steves and us will be a church together. “What, a ten-person church?!” But a smile peeked around the surprised look. I assured her our goal is to invite others to join us as a church and follow Jesus together. “Dad, are there any other churches in Atlanta?” “Oh, there’s a lot, over 100.” “Are there any Mennonite churches?” “Yes, I know of two. But I’m sad to say that in some ways they don’t obey the Bible very well.” “Maybe some of them will decide to join our church.” “That would be wonderful.”

Last evening our middle daughter (four) asked me earnestly, “Dad…? Did God say Yes?” (It took me a moment to confirm she was asking about our move to Atlanta.) Well, what is the right answer? Though I have a lot of peace about our decision, I can’t point to any undisputable special revelation from God telling us he wants us to go. So I told her that, yes, I think God will be very pleased if we move to Atlanta to learn to live in love and truth with Steve and Christy and their family and invite others to help us follow Jesus. She seemed content with this answer, and so am I. God will redirect if he so chooses.

I’m excited to think of raising our family in a new church in Atlanta! History shows that most Christian organizations, including churches, go through a common life cycle that has been summarized as Man –> Movement –> Machinery –> Monument. God can bring revival that rescues us from this “death cycle,” but look around and you will see a lot of churches where most participants have long lost the vision of the founding generation. Yes, God can certainly deliver us from this death cycle. And I think one of the very best ways he prefers to do this is by sending many of us out as men and women to begin new movements—new ministries and churches that express in fresh ways the Great Commission heart of God. (This sending vision can also rejuvenate the “old” church.) So it excites me to have the opportunity to raise a family in a setting that is decidedly not at the “Monument” stage—to give them the chance to be part of the first (or second) generation in the life cycle of a church. Yes, new churches bring great challenges and dangers. But none greater than those facing old churches!  (For more on these ideas, see Historical Drift: Must My Church Die? by Arnold L. Cook.)

So, that’s a peek into some of the decisions our family has been making in recent months. Now we’re facing many more: Which Atlanta neighborhood should we move into? Which house? What about employment options? Ministry options? And what about learning to make decisions as a fledgling two-family church? At this point we expect to move as soon as we settle the housing question (perhaps already this year), and I expect to continue writing for Open Hands and to seek new piano students. Much else remains to be discovered as we and the Smuckers learn to seek the Lord together.

If you think of us, please pray also that God will meet the needs that we did not say “yes” to. Pray especially for our dear friends here in Leon, Iowa. There are church needs and loved ones here that tug on our hearts. We long for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done ever more fully!

If you want to know more about Steve and Christy, you can visit one of Christy’s excellent websites—which are way more attractive than mine, by the way:

And what will a move to Atlanta (God willing) mean for this website? Here are some things I expect:

  • My posts may be more sporadic during the months of moving.
  • The challenges of learning to live as a new local expression of Christ’s body will affirm and sharpen my focus on ecclesiology. What constitutes a church? What does a church do when it gathers? How are church leaders chosen? How are decisions made? Who is a church member? How do churches share the gospel? How do they make disciples? How do they serve their communities? How do they live as a community? How do they relate to other congregations in the neighborhood?
  • Sooner or later (probably sooner) I will need to gain a firmer grip on some tough issues like responding to divorce and remarriage.
  • My idealism will be further tested on the anvils of real life and real life will issue new cries for ideals worth living.
  • Urban living and cross-cultural relationships will reduce my exposure to traditional rural Mennonite concerns and increase my ponderings about welcoming all peoples to the gospel way.
  • I will likely want to read books like House Church and Mission and The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission and A Light to the Nations and King Jesus Claims His Church and Divided by Faith and Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church and Our God is Undocumented and books by John Perkins and a host of others I haven’t yet seen…
  • My computer may overheat when The Big Peach cooks next summer, and that might be the end of Dwight Gingrich Online.

It’s a bit hard to think that my children might never learn to properly skate, let alone play hockey. Our oldest shed tears over this recently, and I nearly did, too.

But I’m excited that our family is moving into new adventures with God. He’s led the way from The Great White North to The Big Apple and The Corn State. Now it’s on to The Big Peach—and someday to the New Jerusalem on the New Earth!

For Christ and his Church,

If you have thoughts on decision-making, our upcoming Atlanta move, or anything else worth hearing, share them in the comments below. Thank you!

  1. Decision Making and the Will of God, rev. and updated ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2004), 230.

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