Chapter Eleven

Sam’s phone vibrated on the desk making him jump, “Hey Sam, this is Mike can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Oh, hey Pastor Mike what’s up?” Sam got up and closed the door to his office.

“I was just checking on that parking lot paving and expansion project for the church.” Pastor Mike Johnson replied.

He, Sam and Cory had all met the previous month to come up with an affordable way to pave the existing parking lot and expansion to accommodate for new growth in the church. With growth came complaints, one of which was adequate parking. Folks just didn’t like walking through mud puddles in their Sunday clothes.

“Yup, I met with Cory yesterday to put together the proposal. I have it right here in front of me. I was just about to send it over to you.”

“Awesome Sam, what is the cost for the church?”

“Well, Pastor Mike, you really should see the breakdown of time and materials to really grasp the cost of this.”

“You’re scaring me Sam. Can’t you just tell me over the phone?”

“I sure can Mike” Sam replied “It looks like the total will be $56,800.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Hello? Mike? Are you there?”

“Yeah Sam, I am here. How are we going to pay for this Sam?”

“Well,” Sam said clearing his voice “I believe that if God is behind this whole expansion project then He will provide for it won’t He? I think you need to announce this to the congregation and tell them we need to raise the extra money. Ask them to commit over and above their tithes as an act of faith.”

“Sam, tithes are down. People are struggling to making ends meet and they definitely do not want to hear that the church needs more money. The tithes we are getting barely pay my salary and the operating costs of the church. We cannot even afford to help the missions this month, not to mention the government is threatening to take away our 501C3 nonprofit status unless I conform to their guidelines.”

“What? What are you talking about Mike?”

“Yea, I got a letter the other day laying out what I can and cannot preach about. They say if I preach about homosexuality and this transgender thing they will remove our not for profit status. If we lose that and people do not get their tax deductions we will no longer get the tithes we need to operate. I have no other choice but to comply.”

Sam couldn’t believe what he was hearing and said. “Well, I say God is bigger than that. Surely the congregation would continue to tithe whether they got a tax deduction or not.”

Pastor Mike responded “I am just not sure that is something I am willing to put to the test Sam. Maybe we can come up with another way to raise some money. One thing is certain we need the parking lot to bring in more people and that will bring in more tithes. It is simple math.“

“Well” Sam said, “I am sure God will work this thing out Mike”

“I hope so Sam, I sure hope so. Thanks for getting me the bid.

Pastor Mike hung up with a big sigh. “Well we are not going to make that kind of money doing a car wash that’s for sure.“ he said out loud.

“Katie the church secretary had been listening in to the conversation.

” Pastor Mike?” she asked from the office just outside.

“Yes Katie?”

“I didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation but your door was open and well I couldn’t help it. I was kind of thinking, maybe we could get someone to come in and put a concert together? Maybe we could sell tickets.”

“Yeah, we could do that” he said his voice trailing off. She knew that he was brushing her off by agreeing with her but what he didn’t know was that she had a connection. Her girlfriend’s sister was getting married in a month and one of the singers of Meadow Song was going to be a groomsman at the wedding. She had dated him back in the day before he had gotten all famous. Travis had contacted her for a date at the wedding but she had turned him down. The group had planned to do a surprise appearance for his bachelor party. Just maybe, she wondered, they could be persuaded to do a small parking lot fund raiser. She looked on the calendar and noticed that it coincided with a women’s conference that was being held at the church the Friday before the wedding. Her wheels started turning.

He had given her his number in the event she changed her mind and well, maybe her mind could be changed!

After the conversation Sam sat at his desk, stunned by Pastor Mikes suggestions. He had to tell Robin about this as he reached for the phone.

“That explains why the sermons have been so watered down lately. Pastor Mike doesn’t want to offend anyone or they will not get the tithes to operate the church!” Robin remarked in furry.

“Heidi was right! Seven Mile is just like all the other churches in the valley, watering down the messages to bring in the people. It all comes down to money just like everything else in the world. That’s what they called it tickling the people’s ears in the bible Sam!”

After Sam hung up Robin stewed over their conversation the rest of the afternoon. Pastors have stopped delivering sermons on the book of Revelation and end time prophecies because they didn’t want their churches labeled as a doom and gloom church. If they mentioned money heaven forbid they were money hungry. Congregations wanted to hear how much God loved and forgave them not about sin and the consequences of sin. They were completely compromising the word just as the bible said would happen in end times.

Robin called Heidi to confirm coffee on Saturday.