permanent space update
Our church, Common Ground West (CGW), has met in a school for over 10 years, which is as long as we’ve existed! Two different schools, Eagle Creek Elementary and Deer Run Elementary, have graciously allowed us to rent their space over the years. We are thankful to worship in this space but having access to a building one day a week clearly has its limits. Eight months ago, the elders of our church decided to appoint a team from our church to pursue permanent space options. We believe God can meet anyone anywhere, but there is something special about a space that is set aside specifically for the work of the Kingdom. We want to be able to say “yes” to Jesus when He invites us into new opportunities and ministry, and having a building would provide a tangible space for that.
The goal of the search team is to recommend a facility that fits the needs of our church and that can be a blessing to the surrounding community. Over the past 8 months, this team has met, prayed, and worked diligently for our church. We have over 20 pages of notes that capture our conversations and work - these are sent to the elders and admin team to keep them informed. I was recently reading through these notes and it was encouraging to see the posture this group has taken. This task of finding permanent space for a church can be a daunting one. I am very proud to be a part of a group who prayerfully went before the Lord and asked Him for help. I wanted to share some of the prayers captured in our notes these past 8 months, as I think they are relevant to the opportunity in front of us:
We desire to have open hands and ask God to make it clear to us where He wants us to go.
Through listening prayer, there has been a strong sense of excitement about moving to a permanent space - almost like the anticipation with a new church plant.
There has been a sense that the Lord has been doing a lot behind the scenes for several years.
The word “neighbor” was also highlighted during our prayer time.
I want to thank the search team for their willingness to take on this work for our church - Steve Hanscom, Marty Read, Joe Garner, and Kaitlyn Bookmyer. There have been several more people willing to jump in to help as we move further along with this project - thank you, you will be needed!
Thus far, we have considered 14 properties within these somewhat loose geographic boundaries: 86th Street (north), 10th Street (south), Raceway (west), and Georgetown Rd. (east). We have looked at each property through 3 different lenses in our evaluation: cost, location, and functionality. Based on those criteria, most options were fairly quickly eliminated. Three options were worth pursuing further and we have spent significant time assessing these options. The door has now been closed on two of those options. It seems like the Lord has kept one door open and that opportunity is with North Liberty Christian Church (NLCC).
NLCC “checks the boxes” on all three areas of evaluation:
Location - their property is right around the corner from where we have met for over 10 years and very accessible via the interstate (map of property).
Cost - we think the financial numbers work well for our congregation.
Functionality - the property has over 5 acres of land allowing us to build a suitable facility and co-habitat with NLCC. NLCC would continue to meet in their current building.
We have a good relationship with NLCC and they have been generous in allowing us to use their building many times over the years for our prayer nights, leadership meetings, etc. I have enjoyed getting to know Ralph Lemmon, their lead pastor, over the past 2-3 years and I have a great deal of respect for him. He has been in ministry for over 50 years. NLCC has been ministering in the Indianapolis area since 1837 - over 180 years! How awesome is that?
We saw a lot of dots being connected with NLCC so our elders, admin team, and facility search team decided to send them a preliminary proposal to see if they had any interest. This proposal assumes we would become the owners of their building and land. The financial components are paying off their debt of $230,000, not charging rent for a period of 7 years, giving them access to the facility we build, and looking to join them in ministry opportunities including their food pantry. It also assumes that each church would continue to operate as an independent congregation. There are additional non-financial aspects of this transition that NLCC has expressed are important and valuable to them. Our goal with this proposal is to be generous with NLCC both now and in the future. We also think this proposal is set at a good price and value for CGW.
Ralph then had extensive conversations with his leadership and congregation. He had 26 in person meetings with folks in his church. As with any transition like this, further conversation will be needed to work through some of the details. That being said, they are supportive of our proposal and excited about this opportunity. Based on that support, we have hired the Veridus Group to complete a feasibility study on NLCC’s land. They will do the following for us: review all local ordinances, covenants, and restrictions, determine zoning, identify utility infrastructure, and provide a few conceptual site design options. The cost for this work is $3,500. Steve Hanscom and I have had conversations with them over the past week and the study seems to be going well. They hope to complete their report in the next week or two.
In summary, this seems like a nice opportunity for both CGW and NLCC. We believe each congregation could be a blessing to the other - there could be some beneficial “cross-pollination” that occurs between the two churches. Additionally, there are several other churches in the area which present opportunities to serve people in the area. There is an estimated population of over 83,000 people within a 3-mile radius of NLCC!
Stepping into permanent space is a big step for us but one that we believe is important and that we are ready to take. I was reminded of Ephesians 4:15 which says - We will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Our leadership desires to continue “growing up” in the way of Jesus and this is another step in that direction and one that can help expand our ministry.
What are our next steps? We ask that you continue to pray for us. We need unity and wisdom from the Lord. If the conclusion of this study confirms that we can build on the property, we then need to discern as a church if we are ready to take the next step and purchase the land and building from NLCC. If we take that step, and come to an agreement with NLCC, then we would have more conversation as a church around what we want to build, how we cohabitate well with NLCC, what additional financial resources we would need to build a facility, and when we can build a facility. Please keep in mind that a building project like this can be a 12-18+ month process after breaking ground.
Todd and facility search team