“Our small town is no longer a small town,” said Debbie Mattke, a congregant of St John who lives on the farm she grew up on.
The daycare already has a waiting list, and a strong reputation around town. The childcare business has strong finances, and St John’s Council approved $100,000 toward the expansion budget.
To be sure, such a huge project, utilizing the church for neighborhood needs, can test the Biblical teaching to ‘have no fear.’ Mattke said that although she has faith all will work out, it is a daunting project.
“But we were such a self-absorbed church for many, many years. It’s important that you get out of the walls of St John, that St John goes out into the community,” Mattke said. “You gotta break away from: Is there need in our church? Oh, all day long! But is there need in the world? Much more so.”
“There’s so many churches that sit empty all week and then get used for an hour on Sunday. It’s a piss poor use of your resources,” said Theiss, apologizing for his ‘Texas vocabulary.’
“In our prayers of intercessions every Sunday, we say, ‘Oh God help us to be good stewards of our resources. Then we use our church space just to mow grass and sit empty for a week. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Theiss said. “If you have the space, use it.”
And use it, he does. Pastor Theiss continued a family legacy of growing vegetables as a hobby, in part to pay off seminary student loan debt, and grew at least two tons of local food next to the parsonage this season. “If this little amount of space can provide this much, how much are we wasting?” Theiss asked.
“It’s a hands on example of a lot of the stories that Jesus tells, a sower went out to sow, I see that every day,” Theiss said. “That Scripture is not some old ancient text from people long ago, but it's alive and well now.”