The past couple of weeks, I’ve been troubled in my spirit… Is that good Bible language for spiritually messed up?
Our church has experienced a lot of growth lately and we’re having growing pains. That’s partly because our building is way too small. It was built in a time when a) churches didn’t have parking lots – they expected to fill the whole property with buildings and b) neighborhood churches were the thing. There was a plan for a bigger building across what is now grass and parking lot, (it would never be approved under current building codes), but the small “chapel” that was built first was the only worship space that ever made it off the drawing board. On Christmas Eve or Easter or at the memorial service of a beloved person we can fit 144 people in the pews (6 per small pew), but nobody will sit at that density the rest of the time. The more realistic four per pew yields 96. The subtract the first three pews that nobody wants to sit in (maybe they don’t think I bathe) and you have 72.
We almost always have more than 72 people. Adding the Trinity Cafe, our video venue with coffee and snacks, we can get 120 people on a good Sunday at our 9:00 service. At 11:00, people don’t sit in the cafe so it’s stuck at about 100 tops.
So we need to do something to make space to grow God’s family! How do you do that in a small building? The simplest plan is to add another worship service. That means either reworking the Sunday morning schedule and maybe shrinking the existing services and fellowship time to make it all fit. Or it could mean installing seating that would allow more people in the same space (you can fit 20% more people in separate chairs than you can in pews). Or it could mean moving an existing worship service off site to a bigger space.
The things least likely to mess up what we’ve got going already are adding a new evening worship service and changing the seating in our sanctuary. Adding a service is a big commitment and it requires a number of committed people to keep it going. Buying new chairs is expensive (maybe $20,000 to get 150 nice-looking, comfortable seats with wooden legs that hook together). I find both of those daunting – mostly because the needed resources are out of my control.
There’s that word again! We’re called to make leaps of faith and to allow God to do great things, but God rarely writes the plans in the clouds of the sky or delivers the plan engraved in stone tablets.
We meet tomorrow to see what the group’s discernment (fancy theological word for looking for God’s will) has been. We may be able to make a decision and then move ahead with making it happen. I’ll keep you posted.
What we’re not going to do is sit idly by and allow the momentum that God has provided to die. We do not plan to “quench the Spirit.” We will do something and it will be risky. But – whether it succeeds wildly or fizzles – God will be there with us.
If you read this, please pray for us (and me personally) as we step out in faith! Where are you headed, Lord? We want to follow you there!