By Susan LeDoux
Rick Snavely, CEO of Family Life Ministries, told The Good News, “Five years ago this month, I was recovering from back surgery and doing my walks with my walker around the house, praying to the Lord, and asking him what he has for my life, that I truly sensed a call of growing the ministry.”
Family Life Ministries will soon expand far beyond its original footprint as a Youth for Christ Ministry that Dick Snavely, Rick’s father, started 62 years ago,
“We made the decision back in the late 70’s that we saw the breakdown of the family becoming more and more of an issue. If we were going to be effective in reaching kids, we had to do things for the whole family. Over the years, we reinvented the ministry,” Snavely said.
Now located in Bath, New York, FLM is a multi-faced ministry that impacts thousands with the message of hope found in Jesus. Having outgrown its current building, it is ready to stretch into a new facility in Corning, New York.
From a half-hour radio program on a Saturday local rock station, Family Life Ministries now has 65 radio outlets across New York and Pennsylvania, reaching a potential audience of six million. Because of its streaming on the internet, Snavely said they tracked listeners in 120 different countries last Christmas.
“Our theme all these years has been ‘to God be the glory,’ because no way could we have imagined how he would have allowed this growth,” he said.
Radio, however, is just a part of Family Life Ministries. Performing arts play a huge role in spreading the Gospel. They will take themes from classical works (such as Little Women production slated for March 21 and 22 in Bath, NY) and use them to communicate the Gospel.
With a five-star chef and baker extraordinaire, their dinner theaters are immensely popular and, as in the February production of Selah, at times sold out. The Youth Theater teaches students from ages 8 to 15 how to use their creativity in the world of performing arts to glorify God.
Inmates in prisons find FLM’s Bible study program a wonderful way to become acquainted with the Christian faith. Additionally, the website, www.flm.org, provides links to such resources as Kingdom Bound’s coming Awaken Conference, to finding Christian pregnancy services, and even access to area music teachers.
As a para-church organization, FLM seeks to serve local churches by providing Biblical counseling with its two experienced, licensed counselors for, not only FLM’s Celebrate Recovery addiction recovery program, but personal counseling as well.
“Most pastors will tell you right up front that they don’t have degrees or training in counseling,” Snavely said.
Family Life Ministries walks along side of local churches to offer support. Snavely is adamant. “Don’t give to Family Life what belongs to your local church. That’s God’s ordained institution. We’re a para-church organization. We’re not a church and we don’t want to compete with the church, whether it be programming, or giving, or whatever.” In fact, in order to bless and encourage pastors, FLN offers an annual, free, daylong pastors’ conference with a national speaker.
The anticipated relocation to Corning triggered a “mammoth” capital campaign in order to purchase, retrofit, and add on to their new building. It will hold a 2,000 seat auditorium, a center for the arts, and a wing devoted to Biblical counseling. Snavely said the space is four to five times what they currently have.
How FLM came to purchase the building testifies to God’s providence. Previously, they had looked at the building but the price was way out of their range at 2.8 million dollars. Eight years later, a broker told them they might want to reconsider, since the building had acquired a new owner and the price had been reduced to 1.75 million. A Harley Davidson dealer, who was a friend and supporter of FLM, had purchased it.
“He called me up, and said, ‘Rick, I hear you’re interested in my building. I have to sell it by the end of the year. If you guys can buy it, I’ll sell it for 1.4 million.”
Between the cost of the building and the cost to renovate it, they were looking at more money than they had ever imagined.
“And that’s why we have the theme verse, Ephesians 3:30, ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worked in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.’” Snavely said.
He added his father constantly preached that as long as they give God the glory, God would continue to bless them. And so, it happened that a businessman, who recently had sold his business, approached Snavely with a proposition.
“If you think this is what the Lord wants, my wife and I will put a $500,000 matching gift challenge out there.”
Even with that, they were $400,000 short. However, their listeners raised a million dollars and they were able to pay cash for the building. With projected expenses enough to make their eyes cross — in order to retrofit the building and add the auditorium — the capital campaign continues.
What drives FLM’s success?
“No doubt about it. Without God’s people praying, this wouldn’t happen…God’s blessing is the only thing that makes this ministry possible.”
He praises the staff. “We have a group that are prayer warriors and want to serve the Lord. It’s a great combination when you have talented people who have a heart for God. You give him all the glory.”
“We have watched, over the last five years, doors open and close, and now we have a clear path to the final product…Thank the Lord, he has shown us, just with different steps, that he’s involved in this and will make it happen. We’re praying and praising at the same time.”