By now, you’ve probably heard we’ve got big changes coming down the pike. We are incredibly close to locking into a sizable property. We’ve actually put in offers to purchase on various places (with no success); and, as irritating as it is to continue looking, we believe that God has an amazing destination for us!
In the meantime, we are making some serious preparations for this facility by changing our campus configuration. For those of you who braved the weather on Feb 10th you already know that we will be merging our Fridley campus into our Spring Lake Park campus on March 17th. And if you haven’t heard that message, watch it ASAP… (perhaps even before you finish this blog!)…[linked here] Keep in mind, the goal is to UPGRADE… not subtract.
For example, people have asked me: Is Substance shrinking? Absolutely not. In fact, we’ve added almost 600 new members this last year alone (around 50 new members a month) — And close to 300 of these people did not go to church at all before this year. We’re still setting attendance records. And amazingly, we’ve done this while sending out almost 400 members to various church plants – churches like West Side Movement (launching this Sunday!) Incredibly, we’ve gotten almost 40 of our members into full-time ministry positions at various churches around the U.S. Our interns continue to get jobs all over the region. At times it feels like we’re the farm-team for everyone else’s churches (Pastors call me every week). But, in the end, I’m O.K. with this! As sad as it is to send people off, God keeps sending us amazing leaders. (We reap what we sow).
Another question people have had is this: “Are you consolidating the campuses because of a financial pinch?” Absolutely not. Keep in mind, our finances are the best they’ve EVER been. In fact, our annual income has jumped by over a ½ million in the last 5 months alone! (And to boot, we’ve recently trimmed an amazing amount of expenses). And YES…by consolidating campuses, we are going to save upwards of $200k a year. But as you heard in my State of the Church update the other week, I didn’t make this decision based on money… but we will happily take the savings! It just means more momentum for later.
Honestly, there are a lot of reasons why we are reuniting Fridley into our SLP campus. And if you missed the handout on Feb. 10th, Click Here. I listed all of the top reasons that motivated this decision. But it suffices to say, we’re doing it so that we can make massive upgrades to all of our Sunday ministries. We’d rather do three campuses at 90% quality than do four campuses at 65%.
For example, rather than setting up a big stage at Fridley every week, let’s take that volunteer bandwidth and step up our stage design – or, set up a gorgeous cafe area at SLP. We want to offer dozens of small groups on Sunday mornings – from SHIFT to Mom’s Groups to Dave Ramsey Classes. We also have amazing plans for upgrading our kids ministries and worship experiences. But none of this is possible based on the space issues of Fridley. And with a better facility only 5 minutes up the road, it simply doesn’t make sense to keep the campus going. And in the future, we hope to spread our locations out a bit further.
Also, there are a bunch of other huge church-wide initiatives we’d love to start. But first, we need to take back some of our staff bandwidth. For example, we’d love to start working on worship albums and films. It feels like we have a never-ending talent pool here. And the ideas we’ve recently dreamed up are simply too fun to keep putting on hold. We’re also launching a brand new missions and outreach program this year (and it’s stinkin amazing!) Even more, we’ve been interviewing some amazing talent (to fill in some slots on our pastoral teams.) So, even though it’s sad to say goodbye to our Fridley campus, it really feels like an exciting new era for us. Carolyn and I haven’t been this optimistic in years.
In the meantime, stay plugged in. We believe that God has given us a preparation year… before we go into a time of big expansion. Don’t get me wrong, we’re already undergoing a silent revival (& it’s almost amazing that 600 new members seems, well… slow). But we also know that God is wanting us to upgrade the internal health of our church… improving a lot of systems that are long over-due.
“But what can I do?” you ask? Well, for starters, if you haven’t read Pharisectomy, dive in. I wrote it to be a “user manual” of sorts for the Substance movement.
(2) Pick a service and a campus and really get relationally integrated. All of our campus pastors are thrilled to get to know you. It’s going to be easier to do this in our new configuration.
(3) If you find people who aren’t fully connected, help em out! Spend an extra 15 minutes in our church foyer. Make some new friends.
And most important (4). Pray. We will be making some big (& fun) decisions soon about our building. The clarity of our vision will be emerging like wild-fire this year.
In the meantime Substance, I love you guys. What a thrilling place to “do life.” Can’t wait to get to know you more and dream about His kingdom together!