Giving God a Chance
Staples (Minnesota) Assembly of God was one of the poorest churches in the state — it was small and, to most people, it was insignificant. Few people attended and little money was given to support missions. If it closed, would anyone even notice?
When Roy and Kathy Miles came to lead the church, a church that had experienced a split and much division, they knew healing could take place and the congregation would be amazed by what God could do with finances.
“Five years into our ministry here, we decided to add on to the church,” Roy Miles, now 65, says. “It was ‘impossible,’ because we didn’t have the money. But in 1987, we built a $150,000 addition with no debt.”
The church, which currently runs about 55 to 60 (including children) a week, originally designated 1 percent of its general giving to benevolences, which was primarily missions efforts. Before the building project began, Miles met with his board and recommended they try increasing that amount to 5 percent for a trial period of six months to see what God would do.
“Our giving increased, even though people didn’t know we had designated more to missions,” Miles says. “After six months, our treasurer recommended we remain at 5 percent. After the building was completed, we moved our missions giving up to 10 percent.”
Miles says that he’s told people over and over again that they need to give God a chance to do something. Instead of seeing a situation as impossible, Miles says that if God is in it, then give Him a chance to provide the resources for what He has directed you to do, and sometimes that requires taking a step of faith.
Roy and Kathy, who have been married 45 years, have now ministered at Staples AG for the past 35 years. The church, although not large, has a developed a bigger heart and has had a bigger impact on the world for Christ than some churches many times its size.
Staples AG gives $80,000 to well over $100,000 a year to missions annually. The church now designates 15 percent of its general fund to missions as it supports 52 missionaries and missionary projects, and regularly welcomes district missionaries in to speak. It also leads the Minnesota district in per capita giving.
In 2016, Staples AG not only gave over $81,000 to missions (which does not include its giving to local community charities — pregnancy care center, county chaplain, etc.), Miles led the congregation in raising an additional $52,000 to totally refurbish the church.
Longtime church member and treasurer, Chris Mumm, is still mystified. “That had to be 100 percent God,” he says. “I don’t understand how that money came in. We paid for everything in cash.”
Mumm sees similarities between the biblical account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes to what’s happening at Stapes AG. “People keep giving and God keeps multiplying,” he says.
“I always stress to my congregation is that every dollar counts — if we all give even small amounts it adds up and God blesses,” Miles says. “None our projects have ever been completed because of large lump-sum donations; we have joined together and watched God do these miracles through us.”
Miles says the church’s focus on missions extends into their youth and children’s programs. Over the last nine months the Wednesday night kids group (Sonlight) has raised over $5,000 to help support a young missionary stationed in the Middle East. The youth group has raised around $10,000 for Speed The Light for many consecutive years and the women of the church annually raise an additional $5,000 for local charity efforts.
When asked how the church does it, Miles agrees with Mumm. “It’s God,” he says. “One of the things I try to challenge other smaller churches with is to quit saying ‘I can’t’ and just try. We may be poor by other people’s standards, but God is rich.”