Growing Churches Take Giant Steps Forward with Christ-Centered Lender
By Carl Stagner
Two Church of God congregations, one in West Virginia, and one in Indiana. Both healthy, strong churches, but both facing “good” problems. Surges in attendance, coupled with distinct, significant transitions in each church, meant ministry momentum might no longer be sustainable without an outside voice and trusted partner. It wasn’t long before they discovered in Mark Senseman and CDF Capital an inside voice with experience not only in financial capital, but also spiritual capital. Southridge and Catalyst Churches had reached within the Church of God and found the crucial knowledge and outside perspective to take giant steps toward greater kingdom impact.
“Tremendous growth both numerically and spiritually.” Now, that’s the kind of description of the past year that most pastors would love to claim. Why, then, in such a good season, would Southridge Church in South Charleston, West Virginia, need to partner with anybody? “This growth has given us the opportunity to hire a new staff member, create new ministries for high schoolers, and adults dealing with recovery,” Michael Coker, lead executive pastor, explains. “Our growth has also caused us to reconsider how we use our building space on Sunday mornings.”
No doubt about it, that’s a good problem to have. But if not stewarded well, good problems can turn into bad problems!
“Our goal in reaching out to CDF Capital has been to free up capital within our budget to be able to do more ministry with more of the money that we receive,” Michael explains. “We reached out to them based on a mutual relationship we had with Mark Senseman. The timing was perfect because we were getting to the point with our existing mortgage company that our interest rate was about to change and we needed to consider new options. CDF Capital has helped us strategize financially for the future as we take advantage of our current ministry success.”
Some three hundred miles to the northwest in Pendleton, Indiana, Catalyst Church was on the brink of change. Though the church is only a little over a decade old, a spark then had lit a fire that is now a thriving Church of God congregation not far outside of Anderson. Rolland Daniels, lead pastor today, has led the ministry efforts to new heights on the heels of the founding work of Chris Denney and critical transitional ministry by Carl Addison. Interim executive pastor Nate Bowers has been a part of the congregation since the beginning. He describes their “good problem to have” quite well.
“After meeting in several local schools and then leasing a small Wesleyan church, we were faced with the burden of being able to make room for those who had not yet walked through the doors, and providing a permanent space and footprint for Catalyst in Pendleton. In the midst of launching our ‘All-In’ campaign in 2018 for the purposes of securing land, upgrading a transitional facility, and completing plans for a new facility, God miraculously provided (Matthew 6:8) instead an opportunity for us to purchase a 13,000-square-foot former event center and the fourteen acres of land on which it stands. Through divine intervention and overly generous hearts, we were not only able to agree to terms with the former owners, but were also able to raise the requisite down payment. Through the fortuitous connections of one of our members, Jeff Jenness (former president of Servant Solutions), we were introduced to CDF Capital in search of a lender.”
Mark Senseman, representing CDF Capital to Southridge and Catalyst, as well as the Church of God movement, is no stranger to “our tribe.” Growing up in the movement, his dad served several congregations as pastor, from Kentucky to Kansas and back to Ohio. His sister, well-known to the movement, pastors Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia—Melissa Pratt. Though not called to vocational ministry, his degree in business from Anderson University has helped him live out the love of Christ in the workforce as a layman.
“I never felt like God was calling me into full-time ministry,” Mark reflects, “but rather that my career would reflect Christ in me. I just wanted to serve people and meet their greatest needs. Today we use the term biznistry. Today, having the opportunity to bring financial capital, leadership capital, and spiritual capital to churches, is the blending of my career and calling as a Christ-follower…I got involved with CDF Capital out of my desire to help resource churches to be effective in what they do to spread the gospel.”
Michael Coker couldn’t be more pleased with what Mark and the CDF Capital team have provided. “The team has been very easy to work with,” he explains. “No matter what questions I have, they are willing to work through them with me. They also helped us set up a savings account with them that will be both advantageous for us as we gain interest, and useful to them as they are able to help other churches in the future. I would recommend them to other congregations because they are professional, ministry-minded, and knowledgeable.”
Nate’s sentiment is similar. “Although we had several extremely competitive offers from other institutions to consider,” he recalls, “Catalyst was drawn toward, and ultimately decided on, CDF for several reasons. Not only did they end up providing us the best rate and package, but their superb customer service throughout he application and lending process combined with their kingdom focus was a major asset and attraction for us. They even sent a team to consult with us on vision and renovations for our new facility. CDF Capital truly has provided transformation capital to Catalyst.”
CDF Capital not only offers resources related to lending, but also publications and events addressing a variety of needs pastors and churches face. For example, every year they host a three-day leadership summit for executive pastors with content designed to help churches deal with current challenges, evangelism and discipleship, communication, transition, succession, and more. Mark Senseman joined the movement in Florida last year for the Church of God Convention, an experience which was sponsored in part by CDF Capital.
“CDF Capital was happy to sponsor the 2019 Church of God Convention and be a part of everything that happened in Orlando,” Mark reflects. “But we are more than just a sponsor. Beyond the conference, we have been working with multiple churches on loans, we’ve connected with the women of the Church of God on development, and we’ve had our senior leaders meet with the central offices on Church of God leadership initiatives.”
“We’ve helped a thousand churches in our sixty-five years, and Southridge and Catalyst are just two of those,” Mark concludes. “I don’t know how many more Church of God churches we will help. We have something to offer every church. But what I do know is that I want to see many more enter the kingdom of God. If I can help churches reach more people with the gospel and give them a church home in which to grow in their faith, that is what will matter most.”