People are always asking me questions about our future facility. And truth be told — things change every month. Part of it is because our growth is constantly changing. Facility planning for a church like this is a lot like making an award winning chicken noodle soup – where people are randomly adding more noodles broth and spices every time I look away. I.e., it becomes a constant recalibration in order to make everything taste right in the end. So forgive me if this seems like a roller-coaster from time to time. However, when we zoom out, there are certain things about our facility that are abundantly clear.
So to makes things a little clearer for everyone, I’ve jotted down a few ideas into three categories: (1). What we know. (2). What we Don’t Know. & (3). What are we doing now. So let’s dive in!
What do we know? We know that we need to move into a permanent facility. Growing our church has never been a problem for us. But keeping our church healthy is a constant battle. As our congregation gets more diverse, our needs are increasing. We know that we need to take our children’s and youth ministries to the next level. (I have many exciting dreams for this). And we also know that young families are the ones who are most benefitted by a permanent facility (due to functional children’s spaces). We know that reaching middle-aged families will also greatly balance out our financial health. Don’t get me wrong: Many of our college students are passionately tithing their $10 a week. But, when every month brings in a hundred new converts… we’re like an orphanage without enough seasoned care-takers. Thus a building will demographically balance us a bit.
Keep in mind, we also spend close to $40,000/a month on facility rentals each month. We really should be spending this on our own facility thereby building equity for our future. But girding up our down-payment has been a constant battle for us. We keep hitting “non-growth-capacity” at each of our sites. Thus we’re constantly faced with the problem of: (1). Shutting our doors to lost people for the next 3 yrs while we save up a downpayment, or, (2). Spending a significant part of our down-payment on launching a new portable site (thereby delaying our ability to move into a permanent house). I.e., it’s like a terrible catch-22. We’re like an orphanage faced with the dilemma: Do we let babies die at our doorstep so that we can save up more money to get them a healthy bedroom? Or, do we just throw 20 babies in a bed and spend the money on food? You see, church: This is why we’ve GOT to get desperate before God and be generous towards his kingdom.
We also know that we’re probably going to need about 3-5 million dollars for this down-payment. To some, that’s a lot of money. They wonder if we’re being extravagant. Yet other people are like: “Only 5 million? Are you only building a 200 seater?” And truth be told, building costs can be a complicated art-form.
Again: We know that we need, at least, 10 acres of land. We’re hoping to build something with around 1300-1500 seats. Of course, some of you are doing the calculations and realizing that “We’ve already outgrown that size of a building!” And yes. That is true. But remember: We believe this facility will only be the first of many around the metro. And this Multi-site is one of the ways our church can maintain a healthy margin and avoid foolish debt. Believe it or not: We can already afford the mortgage on such a building. We simply can’t yet afford the down-payment or the equipment to fill it. I.e., it’s hard to build a facility of this size for less than $10 million. But if all of our members dug for the spare-change under those couch cushions, we could save up this down-payment within a year. So, although the number seems big… remember: our church is big. And if everyone pitched in a $1000 we’d have 2-3 million in no-time. Of course, we realize that even $500 is a stretch for some. Yet others are fully capable of $5000. So… be praying with us that everyone has a grasp of how profound this could be.
What we also know is that we want this building to be as centralized as possible. Of course, this value might cost us a bit more (as ‘deeper into the city’ often means ‘higher priced’). But, keep in mind: Our longer-term plan is to expand campuses all over this city. We’ve already been talking about highschools on the South-side and west side. But, as for our first permanent campus (of many), we’re going to stay in the centralized northern metro. But with all that said, there’s a LOT that we don’t know.
What we Don’t Know: For example, we don’t know if we’re retrofitting an old existing facility or if we’re starting with a blank slate. We don’t know the timeline because we simply don’t know how fast our congregation can rise up to save this down-payment. (Also, it usually takes about 2 years to build a building from scratch). So there’s a lot at stake if we can’t get this project going asap.
In the meantime, What are We Doing? First off, we’re scrutinizing this process from every imaginable angle. Thankfully, we have some pretty smart people helping us over at the Tegra Group… www.tegragroup.com (They’re the ones who helped build the Twins Stadium!) But, if you have any good advice, we always love to listen!
But in the meantime, this is what you can do: Give generously in our Catalyst offerings (Sun, March 13th, July 10th, and Nov. 6th). Every week we hear about a new and radical conversion story happening at Substance. We get more “fruit per dollar spent” than almost any organization I’ve ever been a part of. Every time we expand our box, we fill it with new converts within 6 months. So keep in mind: We are a church in revival. And “God will not forget the love you have shown his people” (Heb. 6:10) by sacrificially giving to this offering.
Lastly… pray. There are churches all over the U.S. (& now, the world) who are relying upon our success. When people are giving up on church everywhere in the U.S., we cannot afford to fail – especially when God has anointed us to do the impossible. So as we ask the Lord of the harvest to “send out workers into his harvest field” let’s make sure God has a barn (or, building) to fill up. Or else, this amazing harvest will rot like everything else in our world. Amen?