Twenty years. It has a long time. I started June 1, 2000. I resigned from the law firm to start what was at that time called the Christian Community Foundation in Kansas City. We started with a big dream: we wanted to be part of encouraging radical generosity in order to advance the gospel around the globe to those who had never heard.
When I started, there was little fanfare. No press releases or big announcements. My first big act was to create articles and bylaws, and to file for tax-exempt status. I worked from a home office. It took about four months to get organized with marketing materials and a website. We went through 26 iterations of our logo! Perhaps our biggest activity was to meet monthly as a board and pray.
For my part, I hit the road. Sometimes I’d have seven meetings per day, and I put over 30,000 miles on my car in the first year.
Along the way, a simple message resonated:
- God is the owner.
- We are stewards.
- We are accountable for our use of God’s resources.
- We should invest in things that last—for eternity.
To that last point, only foolish investors put their money in those things where moths and rust consume. As we walked with so many of our people, we saw great acts of generosity with a growing intimacy with Jesus.
But it would be foolish of me to give the impression that the journey has all been rosy. It has not. Leading a ministry focused upon stretching the horizons of what people can do comes with challenge, danger and disappointment.
Much of that disappointment is in myself. Flaws exposed. Trying too hard. Relying too little on the wonders of grace. The scriptures tell us, “Take away the dross from the silver and the smith has material for a vessel” (Proverbs 25.4). Weeding out those stubborn impurities is a grueling process. Thankfully the Lord is a patient craftsman.
Now after 20 years, I’ve traveled the country, taken hundreds of flights, and sat in coffee shops of every shape and size. I’ve heard thousands of stories of men and women on a simple journey—the Lord wants our hearts more than He wants our stuff.
I could recount for you all the statistics—the number of accounts opened, the dollars contributed, the dollars granted, the lives touched by great giving, but it seems there’s something deeper still. We stand in the midst of the world’s greatest wealth transfer—an estimated $68 trillion. With that transfer, it seems that we have an untold opportunity to unlock worldly treasure for God’s Kingdom purposes.
And as part of that transfer, we realized there was a great opportunity to sign our name to a great legacy, along the lines of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thus, in 2018, we made the shift to become The Signatry, A Global Christian Foundation. It is part of the continuing journey.
What have we learned over the years? What lessons for me, the team, the board? I can boil them down to seven:
- There’s something special about a community of people who pray for a mission and each other.
- There’s tremendous power in simply asking people to share their story with you and then to listen well.
- It is a privilege to be invited into the lives of families wrestling with the power of money and possessions in their life and seeking to redeem that power through profound generosity.
- Walking with God is a grand adventure—risky yet secure, invigorating yet peaceful, humbling yet ever awesome.
- God cares about legacy. He wants our families to be multigenerational. He wants our lives to count for something beyond this life.
- God is saddened by our sin, but oh, how he loves it when He can coax us out on the water.
- The longer I do this work the more humbled I am. It’s never been about me, my talents or abilities. But it has always been about the divine drama he’s been unfolding in front of our very eyes.
After 20 years, some might ask, “What’s next?” I think instead my prayer shall be, “Lord, may I be faithful with all that you put in front of me!” And still, forever and always, we continue to have this dream that we might write the last check to send the last missionary out to reach the last unreached people group. Then this work will be complete, and we’ll all go home. Peace to you.