This post is from a friend and written by him. It is a letter he sent recently to a younger pastor…
Early on as pastor of this church I found out some retired guys met at McDonalds on Thursday mornings. There they hung out together to drink cheap coffee, sit on hard chairs and shoot the breeze. These guys would never pay for a $3.74 cup of coffee at Starbucks. One week I decided to visit with them, and from then on I would stop in about once a month or so. We bantered back and forth about all sorts of things. They complained about the youth pastor’s earrings and teased me about working one hour a week. They whined about how poorly the ushers dressed and expressed fear that those ushers would start coming to church in their pajamas. They criticized the government and said pastors get paid too much. They fussed about how I stopped wearing a tie on Sundays and asked if I still get paid the Sundays I don’t preach. They told me only I should do the pastoral prayer and how I get too much vacation. We debated about music-they wanted to get rid of the drums and I threatened to have the drummer play louder. The banter always went both ways, and we always laughed together. Some of the more gentle guys even tried to stifle the harshest ones. Then they would say things like, “Overall you’re doing a half-decent job… for a young pastor.” (I was 38-years-old.)
Pretty early on in these visits, but not right away, I started to bring up the church mortgage. I would ask them when they thought we could pay it off. I fear some of these guys would only donate spare change from their pockets if I asked for money to plant a church. But they hate debt. These are the type of men who paid off their houses decades ago. One guy in the group attends another local church in the same denomination. I challenged him to visit on a 5th Sunday when the offering went toward the debt. (He did, but he brought cash so no one would know what he donated.) I think I challenged them to get the mortgage paid off in two years and we came pretty close. It was about $357,000 when I began and less than four years later the debt disappeared. I have no idea how much any of these guys gave, but I bet it helped.
Since then I started a “retired men’s Bible study plus Steve.” I don’t go to McDonalds anymore-they come to church and they’ve invited a few of their friends.