Tag Archives: microloans

Churchfunding: 2016 Year-End Report

I thought it would be fitting to give a brief year-end report on our house loan repayments. “Fitting” not because this is the sort of thing that is usually published publicly, but because our churchfunding activities were also unusually public. What an adventure this has been! We want to honor God again for providing for all our needs through the kindness of so many people!

(Here is the post that officially launched this churchfunding adventure.)

Renovating a room and adding a new entrance for a piano studio was one of the big house projects we tackled this summer.

Since I am an English literature major and not an accountant, I will give my report in prose instead of a spreadsheet. But rest assured, we do indeed have spreadsheets to keep track of the data. 🙂

We purchased our house on March 25, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families. About 70 of those were loans.

At the time we purchased the house, we owed a total of $66,162.50. As of the end of 2016, we now owe $61,162.50. Here is the story of the $5000 difference.

We began repaying loans in April, at the rate of $500 per month. We created a pool of our older lenders to repay first, as planned. Prayer and a random number generator in Google Docs selected a person to repay each month. In some months the person selected was owned less than $500, so a second lender was chosen so we could repay the full $500 for that month.

In three months (April, June, September), when we contacted our lender to initiate repayment, they declined repayment, turning the amount due that month into a gift. In addition, another lender, without being selected, contacted us to turn a $500 loan into a gift. In all, $1,475 worth of loans was forgiven in 2016!

The total we actually repaid in 2016 was $3,525. Add that to the $1,475 forgiven, and our total loans due have been reduced by $5000 in 2016—$500 more than expected.

When can the remaining lenders expect repayment?

We still have $4875 due to our pool of older lenders. At $500 per month, that is nearly 10 months. So, unless you are reasonably senior :-), the end of 2017 is the soonest you might expect a repayment.

God willing, however, all lenders should be repaid within 10 years and 3 months—by March of 2027. (That’s $61,162.50 repaid at $500 per month.) And we have not forgotten our plans to ensure we repay a few of you well before that time.

I’ll add a brief cash flow report, too.

Our income is still less than our expenses, so our bank account is declining. But we expected this as we transition to Atlanta income. I am gradually gathering more piano students. (I just signed up another this week, making a total of eight, representing $584 of piano income most months. I hope to eventually have about thirty students.) Choice Books has provided a steady part-time income as expected, and I am continuing Open Hands writing work as I find the time. The decline in our bank account is slowing, and I am hopeful the tide will reverse sometime in the new year. Meanwhile, we do have a little short-term savings that could cover normal needs for a couple months even if income stopped entirely.

House repairs have come a long way! There are still several big projects left that will make life more pleasant, but I think most of the repairs that were urgent for the structural health of the house (sewer leak, termite treatment, pest protection, heat pump, etc.) are now done.

We had some unexpected expenses this summer due to a ministry opportunity. But this opportunity also stirred a few people to share unexpected gifts with us. I am reminded of Paul’s words:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:8, 10-11 ESV)

May God make each of us channels of blessing in 2017!

Dwight & Zonya Gingrich

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 [email protected].  (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.

Subscribe to Dwight Gingrich Online to stay informed about this churchfunding experiment:

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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