Oh no! Sell the church building?
If you haven’t heard a developer wants to buy the land the congregation now owns for a retail center. In exchange for the land the developer will trade us a 78,000 square foot building and a substantial amount for cash. The proposed building originally was a large discount retail store and has been upgraded in the last ten years to house electronics manufacturing. For the most part it is a wide-open space.
From my perspective this is a unique opportunity for us. Congregations who have outgrown their facilities or find them not to support current ministries strategies, often find themselves stuck in the status quo. New construction is tremendously expensive. To whom do you sell an old church building? In forty-five years of ministry I can’t remember another church having such an opportunity.
I have been asked three questions relating to the possibility of a new facility for our congregation.
“What can this new opportunity present to your area of ministry?”
Since the proposed building is basically a clean slate that gives us the opportunity to design a facility that fits our style and needs. Let me address this first from a teacher/preacher perspective. Currently our platform in the auditorium is very small. If we want to have a worship drama or skit there is very little room. There certainly is no backstage access unless one hides in the baptistry changing area or runs around the building and hope the door didn’t lock.
There is no significant atrium or foyer in our current building. That causes crowds to form right outside the doors to the worship center. When I can hear people visiting in hall when I preach I am led to believe that there is a design flaw. The tentative new design has a really large foyer away from the auditorium entrance. This will allow the essential meeting and greeting and fellowship without being jammed into a hallway.
More seating in a less cramped area will give opportunity for more of us to worship together at one time. Right now our 11:00 service can feel really tight. The new space would allow for wider aisles along the sides and more seats.
The large “fellowship hall” style room will not be in another building but closer to the action.
More and larger classrooms will be available to the adults. Hopefully we can incorporate modern technology into those classrooms to make studying God’s Word more effective. That’s true for the rest of the building, too.
This building will truly be accessible for everyone. It is all ground level. That is important because Longview has been designated and certified as a retirement city. I think in the next few years we will see an increase in older believers worshiping with us. That’s not just because of the city’s designation but because the folks hitting retirement status right now are a part of the largest generation the world has ever known. They will be a tremendous group of people desiring to be involved in ministry. But, they will eventually grow older, too. We want everyone to be able worship and serve our Lord with us.
There are too many good ministry possibilities to list in one blog.
“What are some of your concerns that you have to your area of ministry?”
Change can be traumatic for a congregation. Most of us like being comfortable (including me) and change means not being comfortable. It can stretch us spiritually and emotionally. Change can cause us to rely more on God than on ourselves, if we will let it. We should be looking at all of life with the attitude of how we can serve the Lord more effectively. That is probably why Paul was prompted to write, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:1–2 (NLT) That implies we need to think unselfishly about being more purposeful in using our life for the Lord.
If this whole opportunity comes to fruition it will take several months. We could easily be discouraged by the whole process. Again, relying on the Lord and keeping in close contact with Him will help.
“How can the congregation pray for you about this decision?”
Pray for the elders. They have been involved with researching this possibility for months. There have been weekly meetings – sometimes a couple of meetings a week. Individuals have been given specific areas of research – all the way from building design to security, to neighborhood analysis, to financial issues, to impact on the community as well as the congregation. These men are committed to the Lord and still have the other responsibilities of life too.
Pray for me for extra energy, too. Building projects can be consuming. Ministry still needs to happen. The trials and joys of life do not take a holiday for building programs. People still need to hear the Word of God preached and taught. This is not my first building project. My dad was the chairman of the building committee for two church buildings when I was a kid. I know how much was required of him. I have been through building programs in ministry. I know the Lord will have to sustain us.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (NLT)