Last year was one of unprecedented transition for Grace Baptist Church, the family of believers that I help lead and pastor. After a couple of years of unusual growth and trials, God opened a door for us to sell the facilities that we had utilized for over two decades and buy a Racquet Club that was in foreclosure.
Through the incredible leadership of a special task force of men in the church, we were able to sell our old property, buy the new one that included a 20,000 sf building that we renovated for our purposes without borrowing any money. Furthermore, we spent six months meeting in temporary space while the remodeling took place and saw God prosper the work of the gospel in our church and community through the whole process. On April 8, 2012–Easter Sunday–we held our first worship service in the new facilities, debt-free.
God taught us much through that transition and we are still learning valuable lessons today, not the least of which is that buildings and properties are simply tools and should never be allowed to define a church or its mission. We remain happily in the throes of figuring out how best to leverage our new space for kingdom work and look forward to seeing how the Lord guides us into the future.
Last week our local news paper published a story on church construction in Southwest Florida. They used Grace as an example of one way that it can be done. It is an interesting piece, especially for churches that might be thinking of building expansion or relocation.
In the Great Recession, with Southwest Florida’s economy in tatters and population falling, churches found it hard to hold their own, let alone expand.
Many lost buildings or couldn’t expand because of financial problems.
Now, with interest rates, construction costs and property values low, churches are starting to expand again — but that brings its own problems. (continue reading)