For more than 20 years Tar Landing Baptist Church in Jacksonville has been buying, renovating and building debt-free.
“The word free is so important,” said Jack Marshburn, pastor for 25 years. “The word free does free you up. You don’t have the moral issue hanging over your head.”
This freeness allows the church to “stay focused on ministry and missions,” he said.
In the next year the church should have a new $1.4 million sanctuary built next to their current sanctuary.
“Nothing of our budget has been in any way hampered,” Marshburn said.
The church’s last loan was taken out in 1974 and paid in 1984.
“That was the last time the church borrowed money,” Marshburn said.
In 1987-88, the church paid cash for $125,000 in renovations. In the mid-90s, the church paid $19,000 cash for a church van. In 1999, the fellowship hall was built for $200,000.
“Years ago, the church established a discipline of putting (aside) a percentage for a building fund,” Marshburn said. Since then, monthly amounts have been set aside for future building projects or purchases.
“Monthly discipline has made the big difference,” he said. “When those projects were first planned … that made it much simpler.”
Four years ago, the church paid $50,000 cash for a 26-passenger bus.
About the same time the church started a three-year capital campaign to build a new sanctuary. Since that commitment, Marshburn said the church averages $5,000 a month in addition to the percentage budgeted by the church. When they began they had $240,000 in the building fund. The church expanded the capital campaign another year and has now raised nearly $1.1 million.
Marshburn said the members can now look back and see the favor of God. The capital campaign started before the addition of an associate pastor salary, but he said God has been faithful.
“It’s amazing how God has provided,” he said. “In this time, no missions or ministry has been cut back. In fact, this year has been the best year (in regards to offerings).”
The bounty has been a blessing to Marshburn, who said he tries to model financial health in his personal life as well.
“When you start challenging your people, you start challenging yourself,” he said.
There were “personal moments of hesitation” over the years and cases of the “what ifs?”said Marshburn.
“I had to settle some things in my own life,” he said.
Tar Landing has offered financial classes in the past and hopes to offer more in the future. They have two couples who are certified to do small-group training, and Marshburn plans to utilize those talents for the rest of his flock and the community.
He hopes to do one-day seminars “to help people in a practical way, help them get out of (debt) bondage,” he said.
Marshburn was quick to emphasize that “the giving for the building and so forth has not taken precedence.”
Instead the church has continued to strongly support Southern Baptist missions as well as some independent ministries in the Philippines and Honduras.
“It’s been a tough year (with the economy) but the giving has been very strong,” he said.
The pay-as-you-go mentality has spread throughout the church, and they are moving forward in worship as well, he said.
The church recently switched from two services back to one in preparation for the coming sanctuary, which Marshburn hopes is finished by the end of the year.
In an October newsletter, Marshburn addressed his giving church: “I must also acknowledge the faithful givers in this fellowship. I have no idea who gives or who gives what; but this I know, we have people who give, who give generously, and who give consistently. This allows us great liberty in ministry. We do not know the restraint of having insufficient funds.”
Financial health package
Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.