Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman is the Transitional Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Granby.
Scripture: Luke 14:28 (NRSV)
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?
The average cost of raising a child born in 1998 in America to the age of 18 is $223,939 according to the Wall Street Journal. This, of course, does not include the tens of thousands of dollars that my wife, Nicole, and I have spent on room and board and college tuition in the years since our oldest daughter, Fiona, turned 18. Now we have to figure out how to pay for college for her younger sister, Olivia.
But I assure you Nicole and I didn’t give one thought to the cost of raising Fiona when she was conceived. Neither did the thought cross my mind when she was born. It might have come up when we were considering child number two, but I don’t remember any extensive discussion. I remember the conversation going something like the following. Me: “Let’s have another.” Nicole: “OK.”
My point is that when it comes to the most profound decisions of my life, I haven’t counted the cost beforehand. Not really. Not in dollars and cents. Probably because the true costs of committing to a marriage, of becoming a parent, of following a call are incalculable. So are the benefits.
I think Jesus is getting at this level of cost/benefit analysis in his teaching on discipleship. The cost is so high and the reward so great as to make cost/benefit analysis absurd. Discipleship demands that we let go of everything, even our calculating minds. (That doesn’t mean we lose all business sense. When we do business, we observe the rules of business. Jesus also told his disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”)
I work with dying churches. Walking with congregations as they let go of what was in order to make space for what might be is a daunting and grueling task. Too often when church members realize that the cost of discipleship might mean letting go of a program they hold dear or a staff member they’re connected to or a worship style that’s meaningful or even a building that houses precious memories they simply turn back. For whatever reason, the cost is too high. The irony is that unless we’re willing to put it all on the table, it’s likely that all will be taken away in any case. How does that verse go again . . . ? “Those who save their life will lose it . . .?”
But not all churches are like this. Despite some seeming confusion in the wider church, First Congregational Church of Stamford has not, I repeat, not closed. It is restarting in a new location with a new minister with a new mission to the City of Stamford. I cannot begin to describe to you the level of courage, grit, and commitment the people of FCC Stamford continue to display. I encourage you to pray for them, to visit them, to learn from them, to contact them. Maureen Matthews (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the moderator. They truly have stepped into that space of profound and transformational discipleship where counting cost becomes an absurdity, where sacrifice becomes incalculable as does the reward.
Holy God, I hear Jesus’ call and long to follow. Teach me the wisdom of letting go. Open me to riches beyond imagining. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving or suffering in Mexico after a deliberately set fire at a bar killed 26 people and injured nearly a dozen others
- For those grieving or suffering in Texas after a gunman killed 7 and injured 19 others in Odessa
- For those suffering in Alabama where 10 teens were wounded by a shooter at a football game
- For those in the path of Hurricane Dorian as it causes destruction in the Bahamas and heads toward the U.S. east coast
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those who work in public service, transportation, construction, and any occupation that provides or supports infrastructure for the rest of us
- For those individuals who respond to emergency hotlines in service to others
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Norfield Congregational UCC
Saugatuck Congregational UCC
The Congregational Church of Green's Farms, UCC
The First Congregational Church of Willimantic
The Federated Church of Willington UCC
This Week in History:
September 2, 1969 (50 years ago) The first ATM opens for business at the Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, NY, allowing customers to access cash without the help of a bank teller (the only operation the machine could perform). Shortly after, ATMs could perform basic banking functions such as accepting deposits and reporting account balances. Today, remote banking, including paying for products and services, can be performed on cell phones.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
The Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman serves as senior co-pastor of Beneficent Church in Providence, with the Rev. Nicole Grant Yonkman. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School and recently received his DMin from Andover Newton ...