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Saving on mortgages, reinvesting in ministry

Two men talking in a church lobby about Thrivent.

New long-term, fixed-rate church loan helps a California congregation pay off debt earlier, save more than $2 million.

The ministry leaders at New Life Christian Center in Turlock, California, always want to be good stewards of God’s resources, desiring to invest in ministry, not mortgages.

“The building is only a tool to engage in the work God calls us to do. It’s about the people,” says New Life Executive Pastor Brett Avery.

Four years into a balloon mortgage with a local bank, the church was facing an impending loan maturity. So New Life began to look for a lender that knew churches and provided long-term fixed-rate options, in hopes of also saving money. Thrivent engagement leader Larry Brundage, who attends New Life, connected Avery with David Lee, senior relationship manager in Thrivent Church Financing*. Brundage notes, “Our church loan program is another way that Thrivent demonstrates its commitment to helping Christian churches of all types.”

Lee reviewed the church’s needs and provided a loan proposal. In March, New Life closed on a new fixed-rate loan to replace the balloon loan, which had a planned payoff in 22 years.

“Thrivent offered a rate that was significantly better than our community bank, and it’s locked for 15 years,” Avery says. “Ultimately it took about seven years off our payoff schedule and saves us about $2 million. It was really one of God’s provisions for us.”

Lee added that “the long-term fixed rate insulates the church from interest rate volatility in the future and allows the church to spend less on interest expense and invest more in the ministry.”

Brundage started introducing Thrivent at New Life in 2019. He led a few Thrivent Action Teams, one that created more than 160 kits for the homeless, which church members then delivered.

“I invited Matthew Sebastian, a Thrivent financial consultant in nearby Merced, California, to meet several of New Life’s pastors,” Brundage says.

The leaders also have been introduced to Thrivent’s Money Canvas, a free one-on-one coaching program that helps people build healthier budgeting, spending and saving habits. And Brundage and Sebastian set up a Lunch ‘n’ Learn with staff to talk about retirement options.

“We want to teach about stewardship, preparing for the future,” Avery says. “Yet this can be a tricky place for church leaders to navigate. We appreciate that Thrivent is willing to come and share what they offer.”

What does the new church loan mortgage rate mean to New Life?

In the near-term, Thrivent helped the church match the new payment with the budget, Avery says. “But long term, we pay it off seven years faster. This is a burden the church will no longer have to carry for 22 years.”

In addition, the church will not have to re-qualify or refinance the mortgage every few years, a big differentiator that Thrivent offers over many other lenders. And no more worrying about where interest rates are headed with a new long-term fixed-rate loan.

“Depending on how God’s people give, we could potentially pay it off even earlier and reinvest more into the ministry,” Avery says.

gold line

Author Donna Hein is editor of Thrivent Magazine.

*Thrivent Church Financing is part of Thrivent, a not-for-profit membership organization of Christians. We lend exclusively to Christian churches and organizations and are committed to strengthening Christian communities and equipping churches for the future. Learn more at or call us at 800-984-9425.

The client’s experience may not be the same as other clients and does not indicate future performance or success.