"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Baptist Dallas Falls Just Short of $130 Million, But Gets Enough to Proceed

It was announced this morning that the pledges for the First Baptist Dallas campus reconstruction capital campaign, "For Generations to Come", came in $15 million short of the $130 milllion goal. However, they will proceed with the project with a few relatively minor items taken out to lower the cost to be in line with the amount pledged.

According to Jeffress, the amount on May 2nd was $101 million, but several wealthy members ponied up an additional $15 million to get to the $115 million mark.

Congrats to the members of FBC Dallas and to Dr. Jeffress and his project leadership....however, if this project proceeds without a significant portion of the cash on hand, based on large pledges of a handful of wealthy members, this plan is fraught with financial risk for the church. But I hand it to Jeffress and his team - from what I can tell, they have been open and honest and transparent at every step of this process, and the people have willingly pledged $115 million, and Jeffress will give the church the chance to vote and approve the project in just a few weeks.

I hope and pray that if the project is approved by the congregation, that the pledges will materialize and the church is able to pay for the construction with cash flow from the pledges...else the church will be strapped with crippling debt from such a massive undertaking, "For Generations to Come".

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

If your sources are correct and Jeffress is going to have the church approve to go forward with the whole project, and I am sure they will follow Jeffress, what happened to the fact that reaching the goal was going to be THE sign this was of God? Isn't that basically what he told the congregation? Is this a total lack of integrity or what?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I don't think it is a lack of integrity. Listen to the service this morning, and hear Jeffress explain what transpired.

Anonymous said...

Just listened to the service. Sure sounded like the truth . . . building only as much as possible with the pledges on hand. Being will to scale back to only one block of buildings if that's all that was pledged. I agree though that we need to have a huge chunk of money in hand before the building proceeds and a July 11 groundbreaking won't allow for that. I do however have great faith in at least one of the families mentioned this morning as a last minute millions giver. I know of their personal integrity and faithfulness. If they said they will give it, it's done. Don't know the other family; they could be just a dependable. It's been my feeling throughout fund raising efforts at FBCD that the big money pledges usually come in. I think that the problem may be with those in the pew who got caught up in the emotion of the moment (or in this case weeks of moments) and over extended their ability to follow through.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is very commendable of you to report this the way that you did.

I have not followed this closely, that is, the church's plans, whether it's good etc. I haven't really even followed the fund raising program, other than to see it mentioned on your website.

But coming in a $115 million when $130 was the goal, and then addressing it as has been done, shows that this congregation has a heart to do this thing. It is part of the vision (I know some of you hate that word) that a significant portion (in numbers or dollars) of the congregation has bought into. It may not be my vision or desire, but those people are excited about it. So, I am hoping that it goes as well as possible.

Thanks for being even handed enought to report this in a straight forward manner.

Louis

Anonymous said...

Oh, also, I know that I may have mentioned this before, but for those that have an interest, the new history of Southern Seminary has a lot of material about the finances of the seminary in the early years. It was quite a gamble to start Southern, to move it from Greenville to Louisville and to build the "new" campus during the Depression. It was built on pledges, not cash on hand. It was almost foreclosed upon during the Depression. Feelings run so deeply about that that to this day Southern does not do any banking business with that institution or its successors.

I can say that our church, too, was built with a lot of risk. We had $25,000 in the bank, and 10 people when we started in 1992. Our pastor came then at a salary of $28,000. We had no building.

When we were finally able to buy land in 2004, we financed it. We financed the first phase of construction and the second phase, as well.

Someone has asked, "Isn't that risky?" The answer is "yes."

I suspect that it is usually this way for most non-profits, unless it's the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or something like that.

Louis

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Louis - I'm told that 50 to 70% of the total pledges come from a few select veryt wealthy members making million-dollar plus pledges, the rest from the average churc members.

This is risky. If just a few of these donors can't meet their commitment - for any number of reasons - this can spell fiancial disaster. I'm speaking from the perspective of how FBC Jax did it for decades: they may have had a few huge donors - if so, they were not named from the platform for sure - but if they made huge gifts, the church waited until money was in hand before they built.

And I'm somewhat skeptical as well about the estimates, when they are spoken as being low because of the economy.

If they go for it, I hope they succeed. But it seems fraught with risk from the magnitude of the project (6 to 7 times their annual budget), the questionable high-pressure emotional calls for pledges, and the fact that so much of the pledges are from some very wealthy folks.

Anonymous said...

The plan has always been to build based on the pledges, reaching the goal of 130MM was never criteria.

This is a unique program because we have a combination of large givers and the congregation came through in a big way.

Everyone keeps saying that significant cash should be in place, how much is that?

I am not one that is scared of debt as long as it is responsible debt. With the balance sheet FBCD will have at the end of the project it would be fine to have even 20 or 30 million in debt.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Biblical way of reaching people for Christ? Build buildings? Atract the World to "Your High Tech Churchy version of Cowboy Stadium." This is not the gospel! If this is the way the gospel is going to the nations we are going to have to spend millions and millions on builings. What if the Great Commision is not dependant upon building the "Right Building"....(Spiritual Oasis)....What if it dependant upon building the right people.... People who love Christ and want to share him with the World. I think the biggest risk is focusing on rebuilding the Temple and not rebuilding a people.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that God has called us to build buildings and campuses. God has called us to spread His Word. FBCJax and FBC Dallas and the other Megas have lost sight of this long ago. It is no longer about God's Will. It is about empire building.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it is not just the megas. My small church continues to talk about "how many buildings we would have" if more people would tithe.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous post on May 16 at 4:10 p.m.: I am a member of FBC Dallas and I think I know which of the two families you referred to. I know the other family very well, and if they pledged it, it's also a done deal. I feel very good about the majority of the pledged money actually being "money in the bank," and think Dr. Jeffress has gone about this in the right way.

Anonymous said...

Because of this scandal, I have it on good authority more mega church preachers are fact checking their sermon illustrations. (this is important because they rarely do their own research)

Now, if only they would fact check what they teach about the Word.

Matt

Anonymous said...

Various assemblies for three centuries did not have their very own building. The "welfare" of the people came first. FBC Jax Watchdog....you need to do a piece on FBC Leesberg.. now that is what a building project should look like.

Anonymous said...

I don't see what the fuss is all about. If they want to vote to build a new facility, it's their right to do so.

Also if I understood your previous posts on what you feel about tithing, what's the big deal if the majority of the funds came from some wealthy members?

Anonymous said...

this is to may 17th 10:34. The question isnt whether they have the right to build a building. Of course we have the right, and free will to do so. The question is.... Is this God's plan? I grew up at first dallas and i would argue that most people there truly love Christ.

I am almost positive most of the church members have good INTENTIONS in giving to the new building, and want to see people come to know Christ. I believe this begs the question.... Does God bless good intentions? I believe that Scripture shows God blesses not our plans for reaching people for Christ but His plan. He doesnt need our American marketing strategies to bring people in, He doesnt need us at all...

WE NEED HIM!!!....Case and point in Asia, Cuba, and other countries around the world you wont find ornate buildings or fancy "sky bridges" You wont see evidence of a church being there until you meet the people. When you meet the people you see what the Spirit of God is doing in those countries. They meet in basements and houses in secret...and with what little money they have they pour into making disciple...(raising up people and sending them out)...This is foreign to us in America. The funny thing is they dont need all the the stuff we surround ourself with.

Somewhere along the line they believe the Spirit of God and the Word of God are enough. They are right. What if we didnt care about where we met?...or what the building looked like?...What if we cared about sending people out of the building to our cities and the nations? God help us to wake up to your plan.

INSIDER said...

Please allow me to share insider information about the building plan. The cost for the building promoted in the vidieo was $180 MILLION. The "team" knew they could NOT raise that much so they shot for $130 million all the while knowing they couldn't build the original plans. They told the congregation Sunday they would eliminate building a parking garage but they are going to eliminate more than that. The children and youth space will suffer the most. I wish there was a blogspot for FBD. The stories I could tell. I would love to call it "No Spin Zone". That way the "team" couldn't have a chance to spin any conflict.

Anonymous said...

While the dog has been generous in his belief that Robert has been truthful and forthright , the truth will start to come out and the dog will have to rethink his position.

Anonymous said...

Robert has been truthful and transparent his entire life. Throwing out blind accusations like that against anyone is simply childish.

You may not like his stand or believe in the vision he has for our church. You can say you feel like this was pushed too hard, that we shouldn't use market consultants or whatever but to call him a liar is a bogus claim at best. GROW UP!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I don't know what the INSIDER is talking about, but all along I have been uneasy about the $130 million number, for a couple of reasons.

As I understand it, the $130 million number included EVERYTHING in the plan, PLUS paying off the $15 million in debt already on the books. Which means the price tag of the construction was really $115 million. But whenever they talked about leaving out the garage, or adjusting this or that, it was spoken of in terms of the $130 million price tag of construction.

Also, the $130 million number, as I understand it, came out as a "reduced" number because of the depressed construction industry making now the ideal time to build. That seems odd. So was the price normally $150 or $160 million, but it is believed that it will be much lower given the economic conditions?

All of these questions in my mind increases the riskiness of the project, and makes it less likely that the church will get everything being advertised now at the cost of $115 million, AND it will all be done debt free in 3 years with the old debt also being retired.

Call me a skeptic.

karateka said...

If my church was spending $130 million on a project like this, I wouldn't tithe, either. Part of the purpose of the tithe is to get everyone to pay a bit, not a few big donors shelling out for everyone. It is a spiritual law of giving more than a financial law of funding.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of the tithe is to honor God not to get everyone to give a little bit. If you believe in the tithe and somehting is going on at the church that leads you not to tithe it is time to find a new church. Those of you that follow the grace giving supported here could look at it differently I would assume. But for those of us that believe the tithe is still God's plan for his people should never stop tithing.

I will contradict myself here I guess. But while I still believe in the tithe very strongly I have never believed in the storehouse requirement that many pastors seem to be preaching now. While I believe it makes sense to give it to the general operations of the church I dod not see it as a biblical mandate. So I guess the case could be made to give it elsewhere until things change but I would not want to attend a church that I could not support financially.

Kind of a ramble but checked in, the deacons meeting announcing the plan is tonight and the church will hear it Sunday. So I guess we all need to stay tuned to see what the Dawg has to say....