Lutheran Church Extension Fund Partners with Faith-based Builders
Matt Burow is a lifelong Lutheran. So when he created his construction company in 2004, he did so with ministry at the top of his mind and to help ministry organizations with his God-given talents.
“I am not a teacher or a preacher,” Burow said. “My strength God has given me is to be a builder.”
Burow founded Catalyst Construction in 2004 with the support and encouragement of his wife, Jodi. “She knew my passion was to build,” he said. “She gave me the encouragement to go for it.”
He dreamed of serving mission-based organizations through construction. From 2004 to 2008, Catalyst Construction was Wisconsin’s largest church and private school builder. Then the recession hit. Donations suffered. Projects halted. Burow wondered if his company might fold.
“God will provide,” he reminded himself. “God will provide.”
Then, an idea came.
Leveraging God’s Resources for God’s Purposes
A church in Hartford, Wis., stopped its expansion plans because of a lack of donations, but they also owned substantial property. Burow knew the community also experienced a significant shortage in senior housing.
“I told the church, ‘If I could get this land rezoned for senior housing, I think we could sell it, and you could complete the church addition,’” he said.
Sure enough, the property was rezoned, sold and the church finished its expansion. Word spread, and Burow helping struggling faith-based organizations leverage their excess real estate.
“The Christian senior housing facility inspired a lot of other congregations to think differently,” he said. “In 2008, I got a call almost every week. ‘We’re struggling financially. Is there anything you can do with real estate to help us?’”
Lutheran Church Extension Fund Makes Faith-Based Construction Possible
Many faith-based organizations need help to secure conventional loans. When Burow works with a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) organization in this predicament, he refers them to Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), which offers resources to fund LCMS ministries.
“LCEF is our secret weapon in making faith-based real estate purchases possible,” Burow said. “Their competitive interest rates make the mission-based organization strong.”
In addition to helpful loans, those who invest with LCEF have the added value of knowing their dollars support other like-minded ministries.
“LCEF has a great leadership team,” said Michael Klatt, Matt Burow’s business partner. “They recognize right now is a critical time to help organizations transition through the challenges of post-pandemic ministry. You couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
Dan Brown, LCEF vice president of national lending, believes in the partnership between mission-minded builders, such as Catalyst, and LCEF.
“Matt Burow does generous and charitable ministry work in and around Lutheran organizations,” Brown said. “We believe in what they are doing and are blessed to come alongside him.”
The Value of Faith-Based Senior Housing
Burow and Klatt also see the outreach opportunity in faith-based care for seniors. They founded Spero Senior Ministries a few years ago to build senior housing that cares for the whole person, including their soul.
“Seniors are the largest, fastest-growing part of America’s population,” Klatt said. “They suffer with loneliness, helplessness, and boredom—but the most critical area is how to care for their soul.”
As an LCMS Recognized Service Organization, Spero recently received a loan from LCEF to acquire a senior housing facility in Watertown, Wis.
“If it wasn’t for LCEF granting the mortgage on the property, we would not have been able to buy it,” Burow said. Spero Senior Living, the management arm of Spero Senior Ministries, now operates the property known as Spero Heritage.
“Matt (Burow) is a very charitable guy. . . (the Spero Heritage project) is a testimony to what he does beyond just being a contractor,” Brown said.
The Building Will Continue
Burow and Klatt will continue to build for a better future through senior housing and helping faith-based schools, churches, and organizations.
“We are here to serve congregations and other ministries in what their mission is,” said Klatt. “We try to really get to the heart of what they are trying to accomplish.”