The power of dreaming about Powerball

On Sunday morning I woke up but then began dreaming again.  No, I didn’t go back to sleep.  Instead I checked the news.

No one had won the Powerball jackpot.  I had four more days to dream.

So from now until Wednesday night I can dream and the scale of the dream is amazing.  An advertised jackpot of $1.4 billion means a lump sum payment of $868 million or about $478 million after taxes.

I’m certainly not the only one dreaming.  I imagine that the “build and price” section of websites like Porsche and Lamborghini have been getting more hits than usual, as have real estate listings for areas like the Bahamas and Manhattan.  A jackpot that big has brought dreams of travel, buying homes for loved ones or just sitting on a boat with a line in the water not going to work.

It’s a chance to stop worrying about paying for college, the roof that doesn’t leak yet but is a decade past its warranty, or what would happen if a huge medical bill came down the pike.  But instead think about the big picture and what is truly most important to you.

We had four hours in the car Saturday after dropping our daughter off at college and we talked about what we would do with that much money.  A big house where the extended family could gather, supporting causes and institutions we are passionate about, helping a few people who could use a hand at this point.

I will point out that we as United Methodists do not approve of gambling so I can’t endorse buying your ticket.  But I whole-heartedly endorse dreaming.

When is the last time your church did a little dreaming?  Do you spend time dreaming or are you mired in the soon-to-fail roof and the end of year finances you’re just now calculating?

Imagination is such a powerful force in organizations like churches.

If your church received a letter from a lawyer telling you a deceased member had left $1 million in her will, how would that change your ministry?  If a tornado leveled your church in the middle of the night, what and where would you rebuild to better meet the needs of your community?  If Bill Gates or Warren Buffett mailed you a big ol’ check and said to go be the hands and feet of God, what would that look like?

Of course there is a downside of dreaming.  The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 292,000,000.  To be honest, the chances of Gates or Buffett writing out that check to you are probably comparable.

So let’s not count on the lottery or a benefactor thousands of miles away doing this for us.

Let’s count on your congregation.  Hundreds of churches have used a Miracle Sunday to raise an amount equal to their annual budget for a visionary project like debt retirement, purchasing real estate or a huge mission project.  A capital campaign in your church can raise up to three times your annual giving to make the building more welcoming and accessible to visitors.  I have no doubt that in every single one of our churches there is a member with the ability to make 5, 6, or even 7-figure gift to your church but hasn’t been asked to do so or given a good enough dream to make them step forward.  In the U.S. more money is donated to charity through people’s wills than from corporate donations, so maybe you should talk to your members about planned giving.

I get it.  It’s easy to get mired in the bills, the building repairs and apportionments.  You’ve squeaked through another year.  But aren’t you tired of squeaking through?

For the most part people don’t join churches that are squeaking through.  And they certainly don’t join churches that are trying stay alive for another year or two.  More and more, people, especially young people, want vibrant worship, hands-on mission, a chance to connect and relate and find a group to help them grow and be held accountable.

So whether or not you win the Powerball, spend some time dreaming as a church.  There is a better than one in 292 million chance that the resources to strengthen your church are sitting in your pews on Sunday.

Give them a chance to dream, and a chance to make that dream come true.

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