Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will close on the sale of our house in Hudsonville and the purchase of our new house in Wyoming, MI. This isn’t an especially far move (15-20 minutes) but it’s not an insignificant one. A lot of people asked why we’re moving.
One exchange went something like this:
“We’re moving to Wyoming”
“Is the house you’re moving to bigger?”
“Is it in a better neighborhood?”
“So, why are you moving?”
That’s a good question. It’s more common, admittedly, for people to move “up” but, by a lot of standard markers this is a move “down.” The house is smaller (though with a finished basement it would be just about even or perhaps a bit larger) and it is in a city with “worse” schools. Based on sale prices, our new house is worth about 75% of the value of the house we are moving from. Nevertheless, we’re moving because moving puts us more in line with our core values.
The first reason why we are moving is to be closer to the church where I am a pastor. We will essentially be within walking distance (a little over half a mile away). This will afford more opportunity for ministry, especially hospitality. Additionally, I think there’s something to be said for living in the same neighborhood where you minister. It’s not necessary but as our church has shifted from a primarily commuter church to a far more “neighborhood centered” church I have begun to see more and more the ministry advantages of being a closer neighbor. Being close to the church also gives the added benefit of more time at home. I’m at church a lot and with a 20 minute commute I lost 40 minutes just traveling to and from church. On days I’m at church (which is several days a week) I’m adding 30-40 extra minutes to my day – time I can spend with my family.
The second reason why we’re moving is to increase the strategic impact of our resources. First, I am referring the resource of our house. We have a nice house in Hudsonville but we don’t, and probably won’t, use it to its full potential. It’s bigger than we really need and it’s too far away from too many people for us to use it to its fullest. Second, I am referring to the use of our money. Since this house is cheaper this allows us to significantly reduce our overall debt load (we have no debt except our house) and our monthly payment. We can use the extra money to more rapidly pay off our house debt (a move toward financial freedom) or increase our capacity for generosity or pay for Christian education and the discipleship of our children. This will also allow us to reduce driving and car/gas expenses again increasing our overall financial freedom and capacity for eternal uses of our money.
Finally, this move reduces one of the potential barriers in my life to eventual full-time ministry – the financial hurdle. We have always attempted to live within our means but a move to full-time ministry would mean a reduction in means. To allow for that possibility we need to live not only within our means, but below our means. I have no short term plans, or even long term plans for full-time ministry. I am committed to bi-vocational ministry at this time. However, I want to be open to where God may lead in the future.
There are a slew of minor benefits as well. We’ll be living within walking distance of a park. We’ll be close to friends with whom we can swap baby-sitting duties. We’ll have sidewalks. There are some downsides we well, some things I had to get over. We love our current house and it will be sad to see it go. I’m not looking forward to have a detached garage this winter. I’ll miss the third bathroom. But all in all, when we as a family looked at this move objectively we realized that this was a move more in line with our core values. It brings both freedom and opportunity we don’t have at our current address. We’re excited to see where God might use this for his glory.