Think Like a Family Patriarch


When he left home, my Granddad Bouchelle started digging postholes in the rocky soil of central Texas for a $1 a 10-hour day during the depression. After WWII he took his young wife and baby son, my dad, to West Texas and started farming 80 acres he bought off his father-in-law with a bank loan. With God’s blessing, faith, hard work, and the boom of the post-war economy, Granddad retired with three sections of irrigated farmland and a very comfortable financial possession. 

My grandparents never lived up to their income because they carried the trauma of depression years with them and took Jesus’ teaching about wealth seriously. But Granddad was never in farming for the money anyway. He was building a family legacy for his children and grandchildren. He hoped that my father or one of his sons-in-law would take over the farm. That never happened. My dad left home at 18 to become a preacher, which fulfilled his mother’s dreams and prayers. Neither of Daddy’s sisters married a man who wanted to farm. So, did my Granddad’s vision fail? Hardly. But it wasn’t fulfilled as he thought.

Granddad never imagined his farm would be a one generation enterprise. And in a way it wasn’t. His three children held the farm together through a family partnership and leased their land out to a farmer.  All of them were able to retire and live comfortably, in large measure because their income was supplemented by the family farm money. This last year, the family finally sold the land and ended the partnership, but the heritage of my grandparents’ hard work, thrift, sacrifice, wisdom, and blessing has been passed down in myriad ways to four generations so far. 

Through the years, my grandparents helped my family when the preaching life was tight. They invested in my education and helped me prepare for ministry. I know they did similar things for my cousins. They found ways to take care of their family well beyond their lifetimes in endless ways. If things go well, all seven of their grandkids will have more stable retirements because of what my grandparents planned and did decades ago. 

My grandparents built a heritage of faith and stewarded their blessings well, but they never envisioned the form it would take. That doesn’t matter. Our family is much better off for what they did, and they invested for a future they couldn’t foresee. My grandparents trusted God to work through them beyond what they could see. They’ve been with the Lord now for a couple decades, but their gift of faith and the resources they stewarded continue to help our family and flow through us to all the things we support and do for the kingdom. 

If only churches would think the same way. Some do, but not nearly enough. 

What if your church saw the resources God provided as a legacy to reinvest: money, lands, and buildings as well as faith and passion?

What if your church were more committed to to pass on your legacy to a new generation than in perpetuating what you have done?

What if your church were to release the capital of faith in your resources to the next generation to be used in ways you could never imagine?

What if you saw your church’s property as kingdom resources to be reinvested in new forms of church and faith, seed money for future generations to use for kingdom works that you could never imagine?

Our faith doesn’t have to take the same form in every generation. In fact, it shouldn’t, and it can’t because times and people change. But the legacy of faith and the spiritual, relational, and financial capital a church has built up can be passed along so that the same God who transformed us, can transform our spiritual descendants. 

Heritage 21 estimates that $1.5 to $3 billion in real estate assets owned by Churches of Christ will change hands in some way in the next 10 to 15 years. What if the churches who steward these assets invested together with many others to repurpose just 10% of those resources for evangelistic and service ministries? That would release $150,000,000 for expanding the gospel and serving the needy. Missionaries, evangelists, and servants to the world would have a tremendous resource to draw from to fund the visions and dreams God called them to.

As a Foundation, Heritage 21 can help churches pass forward their legacy of faith into the future in a way that multiplies their impact. If we love our descendants in the faith, we will steward what has been given to us in such a way that it will be able to give life and strength to the next generation.

If your church would like to know more about the Foundation opportunities available to you through Heritage 21, contact us at [email protected].

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