Many of us may not be aware of this, but as a church we have only had a few years in our 40-year history where we were not expanding or renovating our facilities in one form or another. Our building is in use seven days a week, with about 400 people utilizing it each day during the work week. We have grown from a staff of seven people up to 85 people. Our congregation of 175 people in 1980 has grown to roughly 1,500 people. There are constant requests to use the same spaces at the same time, so our different ministries can function. Between growing ministries and adding new ones, we’ve had to be very flexible and creative in how our current building space is used.
Over time, we have pulled together various teams consisting of long-term and newer members and presented them with the constancy of trying to make all the scheduling and space needs work. We have explored all the ways we could expand on our existing property but soon realized we would have to sacrifice parking and outdoor recreational space, we would not meet city code for fire or parking, and ultimately we would not be able to satisfy the space needs. The consistent response, once the problem is understood, has always been: We need to purchase more property and build more space.
Our posture throughout the years has been to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. It was only three years after our church was built in 1980 that we began expansion. In 1983 we expanded the sanctuary to twice its size and added the south foyer and elementary classrooms along the south side. Two years after that, we added the north foyer, additional bathrooms, the multi-purpose room, the gymnasium, and additional classrooms for our high school. Our plan from the beginning was to share space with Christian Fellowship School (CFS) and then relocate the church when space needs could no longer be satisfied.
From 1987 into the 1990’s we did not do any major expansions, but performed various renovations to our interior spaces, carving out new office space from hallways and storage rooms, and adding and removing walls to better meet our needs.
In 1995, we started asking how long we could make this building work for all operating ministries. CFS was growing and needing more and more space. Likewise, our church was growing in attendance, but we did not want to move to two services because of a desire to remain close as a church family. Still, people could not find parking or seats on Sunday mornings. This eventually lead us to holding two services on Sunday.
1999 and 2000 saw the addition of three modular classrooms on the south side of our building to meet pressing needs. This was meant to be a stop-gap measure. It was at this time that we gathered with our small group overseers and once again laid out the problems of space and they unanimously said: Don’t delay. Start looking for property. In 2001 we searched for property along Scott Boulevard and met a farmer that was ready to retire and amenable to sell us his land. His name was James Judah. Many of us recall a sense of awe realizing, “We are going to occupy the land of Judah!” Mr. Judah’s farm was 160 acres, way more land than we wanted. We met a developer that was willing to buy all 160 acres, sell us whatever portion we wanted, do all the logistics for zoning with the city, and get roads and sidewalks built to extend Chapel Hill and Louisville Roads. He was a godsend and delivered exactly what he promised. We bought 37 acres of land, and just as miraculously paid it off within two years.
By 2008 we recognized our existing building needed a major makeover. Our facility was looking dated. We had not upgraded its look in over 25 years. Our desire has always been to keep our facility well maintained. With that in mind, we undertook the renovation of the auditorium, foyers, bathrooms, outdoor façade, and added some walls in an effort to make more functional space.
In 2011 we added the 5000 building (named so because that is its total square footage) for children’s ministry. With that addition we had now given up about 25% of our parking space. Our planning teams continued to meet to address building use and in 2014 said it was time to talk to architects. With this decision we moved into the Increasing Our Capacity initiative in 2015.
We have not given up the attempt to address space demands in the current building and in 2018 added three additional modular buildings to the south side. We currently have six modular units in use on the south side of our
building and the 5000 modular unit on our north side. And this is where we stand. With the addition of our African third service meeting on Sunday, and continued conversations about building use, we fully expect the pressure for space to continue.
God-willing, we will break ground on the Chapel Hill property within the next 18 months. We do not go there to settle, but we do want to go there with a sense of peace and a sense that the Holy Spirit is leading us. Our future is not in our hands but in His and that is our confidence. God has taken us thus far, we have labored to be wise stewards of what He has given to us. We are committed to keeping in step with Him as we move into the future.
The Israelites (and more recently, we) piled stones as a monument and reminder of what God had done among them. That pillar of stones was used to look back on their journey and also to bolster their faith for what God was yet to do through them. Let us look back, confident that we have stewarded to the best of our ability this property that God has blessed us with, that we might be confident God will entrust us with even more on the property at Chapel Hill.