WICHITA FALLS—It wasn’t loaves and fishes, but dollars and cents the congregation of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls brought together. The result was still astounding—the payment of $8.4 million in debt in seven months.
“The great thing was the whole church contributed. I’m not going to tell you that every single person in the church contributed, but it truly was a churchwide effort. It wasn’t one of two people writing a check, but a church coming together in a common purpose. Our people who have been financially generously blessed gave generously. But those who didn’t have a lot to give still contributed what they could,” Pastor Bob McCartney said.
That sense of community and ownership also struck Minister of Media Rod Payne. “In this day and age, for something like this to happen is truly incredible,” he said.
“And the really neat thing is that many people were able to give because they made changes in the way they lived to enable them to give. Some gave the money they had been using to go out to eat. Others gave up other things to give themselves the opportunity to give. To see people make these lifestyle changes, that was what was really impacting,” Payne said.
Challenged to "level the mountain"
The campaign began last April when Interim Pastor Bill Anderson challenged the North Texas congregation to “level the mountain.”
“The church got behind that,” said McCartney, who was called as the church’s pastor in June. And now the church can pursue new ministry ventures with the $365,000 a year that was going into debt retirement.
Church planting is one of things the church is working toward, along with a variety of ministries outside the church, especially in low-income neighborhood
New college minister
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“One of the things we did immediately was add a college minister to our staff,” McCartney said. “When I came here, God gave me a burden for Midwestern State University, and we’re going to reach out to the students there.”
While the money came from the pockets of the people in the pews, Payne gives God all the glory.
“It’s not a thing where we’re saying, ‘Hey, look at us,’ but that the sovereign God of the universe saw fit to give our church a stimulus package,” he said.