Back in August 2011, I made a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to spend time with my hero and mentor, Wayne B. Smith. Wayne was the greatest encourager I’ve ever known and, as I’ve shared on many occasions, was like a father to me. Very few know I had gone on that trip to get Wayne’s blessing to quit. I was tired, worn out and felt like I needed to step aside and let someone else lead.
But God had other plans.
It was Saturday and we went to lunch at a steakhouse near where Wayne lived when I asked him what he would do if he had it all to do over again. He instantly said, “Three things.” But before he could tell me what they were we were interrupted by several people who came by our table to say hi. Even on our way out the door people kept coming up to say hi and give him a hug. He was more popular (and probably still is) than the governor of Kentucky.
As we walked out the door Wayne, with his walker, pointed to a bench in front of the restaurant in the hot August Kentucky sun and said, “Sit down,” which I promptly did. I had no idea what he was doing but once I sat down he began.
“Here are the three things I would do differently …” Oh, okay, I thought.
“Number one,” he said holding up his right index finger with classic Wayne Smith enthusiasm and authority. “I quit too soon.” I sat there stunned even telling God under my breath, "There’s no way you’re speaking to me through him." Remember, I had come to Lexington to tell him I was ready to quit. “Number two. I would have done greater things for God. Things that people thought were impossible and crazy.” I immediately assured him what he had already done was amazing and considered impossible by many; now admired by all. He wouldn’t have any of it and kept saying he would’ve done more. “Number three. I would’ve hired you.” The third thing he said under normal circumstances would have moved me to tears, but I was still stunned by numbers one and two.
I dropped him off at his house, went back to the hotel and asked God what this was all about. It was in that Marriott hotel room on that Saturday afternoon when God gave me the vision of building a 75,000 sq. ft. youth building and a 75,000 sq. ft. children’s building. I sketched out the ideas as fast as I could write, calculated the cost per square foot and came up with $30 million for what it would take to build those buildings.
Fast forward to our elder’s meeting in September. I had just returned from my summer break and asked the elders before the meeting began if I could share something. I told them I thought I had heard from God, but maybe I was just crazy and needed to quit. I told them if they felt I needed to go ahead and retire I would be good with that, but I felt I needed to share what I believed God had laid on my heart for our church. After I shared what happened in Kentucky and the vision of building both a new children’s building and a new youth building, everyone was wiping away tears and every elder strongly affirmed they believed this was from God.
We went to work the next day creating a strategy, drawing up plans and sharing the vision over the next several months. We even chose a theme: WE BELIEVE! and in the spring gave out black t-shirts with the theme on it. It was the first Sunday in March 2012. Sadly, it wasn’t long and we discovered not everyone believed as we did. In fact, a number of people left, including some staff. The next several months were dark, discouraging and foreboding for all of us. It would’ve been easy to quit, give up and walk away like so many others had done. But we didn’t. Something kept us moving forward: we knew we had heard from God.
We revised our strategy, rallied the troops and redesigned our theme. We had red t-shirts printed with the words: WE STILL BELIEVE! on them and gave them away to everyone. It wasn’t long and in August 2015, three years later, we were celebrating the opening of our brand new children’s building. On that day, we shared the vision of the youth building again. Our new theme would be WE BELIEVE MORE THAN EVER! and yes, we got new t-shirts, again.
Now here we are. November 2019, four years later, getting ready to break ground on our new $24.5 million youth building. We’ve given $42.5 million so both buildings are completely debt free. Take a moment and consider the remarkable investment our church family has made and is making in the lives of children and students not just for right now, but for eternity.
That is something genuinely worth celebrating!
This Sunday, we’ll be having ONE GIANT SERVICE at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate the blessings and provisions of God upon our fellowship. I’m praying thousands of people will pack our amphitheater as we lift our hands and hearts in praise to God. I’m also praying thousands of our people will bring a love offering, above and beyond your regular giving, to say thanks to God in a tangible way.
Wayne Smith used to tell the story of a time when Southland, the church he pastored for 40 years, was raising funds for their new facility. He’d preached his heart out and the time came for the offering. Just before the prayer, a gentleman in the back stood up and said, “Brother Smith, could I say something?” Wayne said the man wasn’t a member yet, but because he was a Baptist, Wayne knew he wouldn’t say anything embarrassing. So Wayne told the man he could. The man walked about halfway down the middle aisle to the front and addressed the congregation. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve all been praying and planning for this offering and we’ve heard a mighty fine challenge from our preacher today. I just want to challenge you that whatever you were planning on giving, DOUBLE IT!” and he went back to his seat and sat down.
I’m praying thousands of people will pack our amphitheater this Sunday as we lift our hands and hearts in praise to God.
Wayne said they made their goal.
This Sunday our goal is to thank God for all He’s done in the past 49 years at Crossroads. I don’t know how we’d ever put a price on that. But whatever we think would be a generous love offering, it might be appropriate to double it.
Years ago, some said, “It couldn’t be done.” JESUS said, “With God nothing is impossible!” and this Sunday morning we’ll celebrate WHAT GOD HAS DONE!
Come celebrate with us and bring everyone you know.
© 2019. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.