Texas Church Learns You Can't Outgive God
Small, Texas church sees blessing after blessing with renewed commitment to missions giving.For a church of only 30 regular attendees, paying off over $30,000 in debt while also catching up on overdue balances, including the $15,000 they were behind in their missions giving and the 30 days they were delinquent in bills, seemed like an impossible task. Yet, through a renewed focus on honoring their commitment to missions, Azle First Assembly of God learned that the only thing impossible about their situation was that they could not out-give God.
On Nov. 6, 2022, Josh T. Lowrance, 37, preached his first Sunday as lead pastor of Azle First Assembly. Having served in full-time youth ministry for more than 15 years in Houston, Texas, and Louisiana, moving to the small town of Azle, located 17 miles northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas, where he would become bi-vocational was a “huge leap of faith.”
“There was this part of me that kept questioning what I was doing and why I was making the transition,” Lowrance says.
Working as a middle school teacher during the week while leading the church through its enormous financial struggles caused Lowrance many moments of question and doubt. However, Lowrance decided to stretch his small congregation and roll out a five-year plan to pay off all late bills, credit card debt, and outstanding missions commitments. In that same plan, Lowrance proposed a savings plan to help the church build up enough savings to cover three months of operational expenses in case of an emergency.
Aside from all the money owed, the church, comprised mostly of seniors, had resigned to the fact that the church couldn’t grow. Lowrance notes that there was a lack of enthusiasm within the church and the general tone was dull and unremarkable.
“When I presented the plan to the board, they were all in agreement. However, during the board meeting, we all felt really led to tackle our missions giving first because those were commitments we had made and felt we needed to prioritize,” Lowrance says.
The church’s financial strategy rolled out that month and payments began going to missions.
One board member who was serving during the time of the missions commitment decision was Rob Colgan, 65, who had been serving for five years.
“Most weeks, we could barely cover our bills,” Colgan says. “Finances were tight, and the money simply wasn’t there. But when we decided to see those commitments fulfilled, that’s when things took off.”
As the church began to sacrificially give, the floodgates of Heaven opened and monetary gifts came into the church, attendance increased, and favor was found in the area of their finances.
“There is no doubt God was at work,” says Colgan.
By the end of January 2023, Azle First Assembly had caught up on all of its missions commitments, paid off all credit card debt, and had saved enough money for exactly three months of operational expenses.
Additionally, the church was able to add part time staff, including an administrative assistant and a student ministries pastor.
Today, the church has found a renewed excitement and has started reaching out to the community through additional avenues of giving. Partnering with the local crisis pregnancy center, investing in individuals who are in need, and other local partnerships have continued to draw people of all ages through Azle First Assembly’s doors.
During the summer of 2023, the church was also able to financially support a missions team that went to Kenya.
“New life has been breathed back into our church. Now, people are excited to come on Sundays. They are excited to give. They are excited to invite friends and neighbors. They are excited to bring people with them,” Lowrance says.
The spirit of giving has been contagious and spread church-wide. Attendance and giving are both at an all-time high, just one year after the church’s re-dedication to missions. The congregation has tripled in size, and in November of 2023, attendees gave an offering of $40,000 in a single Sunday.
“Our attendance and our offering that week were the largest ‘non-Easter’ numbers at the church since I’ve been here,” reports Lowrance.
“Every week we look back to last year and are in awe of how far God has brought us,” Colgan says.
Azle First Assembly remains focused on investing in souls. Yet the more they give, the more God returns.