Category Archives: Building Up and Facilities
In recent days I have been asked on several occasions: “When is the project going to be finished?” Which means it is a good time to provide an update about time, money and other questions and comments. Below is the latest:
- Anticipated Completion. This morning I confirmed with the general contractor that they are hoping to be done by the end of April. This could change, but believe me when I say that everyone wants the project to be done as soon as possible.
- Budget and Fundraising. The good news is that we have enough money on hand to pay for the construction contract.
- We are still receiving and accepting funds. Thanks be to God that through the generosity of many, we have raised enough money to finish what we started as it relates to the contract (See next bullet point). However, in the process of making progress we occasionally find an unanticipated challenge that sometimes results in a change order and cost increase. This has been tricky as we try to join an existing structure with a new structure, and I have been told by experienced people that projects always require unforeseen changes. We are doing everything we can to minimize cost increases, but sometimes they are inevitable. When they are necessary, we try to find ways to offset the cost. For this reason, we would like to encourage you to continue to give as you are able – as some continue to do monthly. In one sense, we have raised what we have needed to complete what we we began, but for the reasons above, we are still accepting gifts. If we have money left over, we will use it to repair our parking lot and provide furnishings (furniture) for our new space.
- What we are doing and what we have done. Remember that the contract includes 5,200 sq. ft. of new space (approximately $155 per sq. ft.) and just over 3,000 sq. ft. of renovated space (approximately $78 per sq. ft.) . Keep in mind also that we have renovated the children’s hall and added children’s space in the fellowship center.
- Where’s the main entrance? We anticipate the main entrance will still be the one at center of the south end of the building. On a rainy day, or for those who can’t walk long distances, the west entrance will be the best option. Those who need handicapped parking will be able to enter on the east side of the building.
- It’s Not a Pigeon Coop. Some have cleverly joked and asked whether the open space at the end of the building is a bird shelter or my new office. I assure you that it is neither. It is open, at least in part, to aesthetically break up what would otherwise be a very long stretch of metal building (See the bullet below about carpet color). The birds haven’t made this area a home yet, but that’s because most of them have been trapped inside the new construction space 🙂
- The finished product. I recognize this has been a significant sacrifice for many people in many and various ways. For some it has been inconvenient. For others it has been hard not knowing all the details. I want to say I am thankful for the patience of everyone involved. I have been impressed by the overall unity of our church during this season. It is no small thing what we are accomplishing together – and hopefully we have glorified God together. I do want to say that when the whole thing is finished, I think we will be pleasantly surprised with all that we are getting for our efforts, unity and money (Click here to read more about what we are getting). I know that trying to make everyone happy regarding the look of a building is like trying to get everyone to agree on what color the carpet ought to be – it’s not going to happen. But I truly believe that the finished product will be something we all can appreciate in one way or the other.
I always want to be as open and receptive as I can about the “what” and “why” of this project. If this update has caused more questions than answers, please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification and information. I am always happy to speak with you.
Right now there is a backhoe outside rattling everything in my office – including me. That’s good news! Here is a brief update on construction and fundraising.
We have been doing a lot of below ground preparation work: Moving water meters, digging and connecting new sewer lines and moving a fire hydrant. We have also been tearing up existing concrete, tearing down the existing drive-through canopy and building up a pad to pour the footing and slab for the expansion. While it looks like little has happened, in reality, there has been a lot of infrastructure work that has been done so the building can be built.
We have also built two large children’s classrooms in the fellowship center. A big thanks to all the men and women who volunteered get this done in an economical way. This will enable us to move all the Sunday Morning Children’s Ministry meetings to the west side of the building so that we have a more secure children’s area.
Construction of the main addition of 5,200 square feet on the south side did come to a stop for a little less than a month, as we were waiting to be approved for a building permit. Last week a permit was given and so construction has resumed. The unfortunate part of waiting on the permit, while also being slowed by a needed wet spring and summer, is that we are two months behind. Because of this it looks like the project is scheduled to be finished at the end of February instead of the end of December.
The construction team is presently meeting every two weeks to get updates on the progress of the project. If you ever have any questions about what is going on, please don’t hesitate to ask.
(If you are wondering what the benefit of this project will be, please read this blog from March 26th: What We Are Getting From the Expansion and Renovation)
Giving continues to be very strong. Since the official three-year Building Up Campaign ended in March, we have taken in approximately $60,000 of new funds in just four months. In April we began telling the church that we will need at least $160,000 to finish the project, and because of the generosity of many, we now need at least approximately $100,000 to finish the project.
We say “at least” because in the process of construction, unexpected things come up that sometimes increase the cost of a project. The Facilities Team, the architect and the general contractor are working very hard to make sure we do everything thing we can to avoid change orders that drive up costs. We want to make every dollar count and honor the expectation and the contract budget we have agreed to with the contractors.
We (Finance Team, Facilities Team and Elders) have also been asking the church to affirm by vote, making available $244,000 from savings toward the project. It is very important to emphasize the words, “make available”. Depending on the how the last bit of fundraising goes and whether or not there are change orders that drive up costs, we may not use all of the $244,000 we are asking to be made available. We have only asked that the church make that available in case we need it to finish. We may well need all of it, but then again, maybe we won’t.
We will vote by ballot this Sunday to affirm the recommendation of making available the $244,000 from savings as needed. We have been announcing this on Sunday mornings and you should have received a letter describing why we think we are financially able to use this money from savings. Please prayerfully consider this and be prepared to vote Sunday, August 16th. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
- We did sign a construction contract this last Monday (March 23rd) and we are grateful for the patience of our church family. It “only” took 3+ years, but we should now start to see some visible progress beyond in addition to the children’s wing renovation that has already been completed.
- The estimated time for demolition and construction will take 275 days, which will put us right around Christmas for completion of the construction and renovation.
- One of the first things that will happen is that the children’s resource closet, on the west side of the building, will be emptied and turned into a temporary entrance during the expansion of the south side of the building. We may also see about having people enter through the back door on the northeast side of the building, but this is still in the planning phases. We ask for your patience and flexibility as we try to accommodate our week-to-week activities and the construction.
- Once the steel is ordered for the expansion, it will take about 15 weeks for it to arrive, which will be sometime around the first of July. I suspect things will start to pick up considerably prior to the arrival of the steel.
- There are a lot of details that are not yet known as it relates to when and how, but we will do our best to keep you posted so we can adjust as necessary.
FUNDRAISING AND FINISHING WHAT WE STARTED
The generosity of our church has been outstanding and encouraging. A big thank you to all who have supported this project.
With the support of the Finance and Facilities Team, the Elders explained to the church on February 22nd that we still need to raise at least $160,000. Since March marks the end of our three-year capital campaign, “Building Up”, the Elders have devised a plan to continue raising funds for the expansion and renovation. The plan is to:
- Pray for God to increase our faith and provide through His people what is needed.
- Ask those who made a pledge in March of 2012 to continue to work toward completing their pledge. There is still over $100,000 dollars in outstanding pledges from the original campaign.
- Ask those who have completed their pledges to continue to give for the next year as they are able.
- Ask those who have not yet joined us in giving to do so as they are able.
- When we get close to the completion of the project and have a better idea of the exact amount we need to finish, we will make it know to the church and ask for people to pray and give sacrificially to raise what is needed.
In other words, we are going to ease off the fundraising pedal for the next several months and ask those who can continue to give to do so, and then we will do a big push in the last few months of construction. We hope that seeing construction progress will serve as a catalyst for giving.
Finally, in regard to fundraising I want to clarify questions and concerns that I suspect are in the minds of more than a few.
- As a matter of priority, I would rather you give to the ministry of the church by way of regular, joyful and sacrificial giving, and to missions before you give to the building fund. This building project is important, but it must not prevent us from local and missions ministry.
- I recognize we are asking our church to give sacrificially, and I am sensitive to the potential of fostering giving fatigue, but I hope we can continue to work together and trust God together with joyful hearts that honor our Lord.
- We have not, and we will not, take on any debt to complete this project. We do have a enough money available to complete most of this construction and renovation project. The rest of the money we need to raise will be mostly for finishes and furnishings.
I am excited about getting started and I look forward to the day when we look back and see how far God has brought us in this endeavor so that we can continue to glorify God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all that He has commanded.
(If this post raises more questions than it gives answers, please contact me so I can speak to the concerns directly. A lot of time has passed, many meetings have taken place and the plans have morphed since we began this journey. Below are two blogs that deal with some of the questions we were asking, receiving and dealing with early on in the process.)
Blogs previously written about Building Up:
I was recently doing some spring cleaning and in my office desk I came across several years worth of documents that tell how we have come to where we are with regard to our Eagle Heights building expansion and renovation. I thought it would be good to update our faith family on what is currently happening, review briefly how we arrived at at this point and describe what we will be getting in the upcoming expansion and renovation.
Where are we in the process? We plan on signing a construction contract as soon as early next week, which means we should begin to see some demo, and eventually construction.
Before giving some details about the upcoming project, it might be good to reflect on how we came to the place that we now find ourselves. Especially since it has been so long since we began this journey.
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 2011 we began working with TriArch Architecture Firm to produce a master plan (I found a plan from TriArch that was dated May 25, 2011). Several months later we began working with our current architect, Nathan Richardson, who did an extensive study of our current facility needs and future needs. Based on the work TriArch had done and his own study, Nathan recommended to the Facilities Team a “phase 1a” plan that would consist of both new and renovated space to make one functional building.
On September 11, 2011, the Facilities Team and the Elders asked the church to affirm two recommendations by vote. The first recommendation was: “Starting the Architect design effort for all of Phase 1a. Moving forward with Phase 1a construction, only as the Lord provides in a debt free effort.” The second recommendation was: “That we move forward with a capital campaign over a three-year period with Horizons Stewardship Company. Horizons will assist us to raise the money needed to build phase 1a and to help our people follow Christ as disciples with their money beyond the three-year campaign.” We voted overwhelmingly to move forward with both recommendations.
We have been working and planning since that time to finish what we started, which included a three year capital campaign that began in March of 2012. Three years later we are technically winding down our three year campaign and thanks to the generosity of many we have exceeded the campaign goal that was pledged.
Having said that, I want to stress that we are not yet done raising money. Our campaign goal of $785,000 was based on pledges made by the people of Eagle Heights in March of 2012. It was never meant to be the amount we thought we would need to do the renovation and expansion that was being recommended. We recently told the church at a Communication Matters Membership Meeting (February 22) that based on estimates from contractors and our architect, we believe we will need to raise at least another $160,000 to finish the plans and furnish what we have proposed to renovate and build.
WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP
If you have not completed your pledge, please continue to give. If you have completed your pledge, like my family, and you can continue to give, please do so. If you have never joined us, there is no time like the present. Once we sign the contract, it will be an estimated 275 days before we complete the project. I truly believe God will provide, and it will be through the continued generosity of His people.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT WHAT WE ARE BUILDING
- We will be adding 5,200 square feet to the south end of the existing building. The cost is estimated to be approximately $155 per sq. ft. (I wrongly stated that we were building 5,400 sq. ft. at our February 22nd meeting.)
- We will be renovating approximately 3,200 square feet to synthesize the new space with the existing building. The renovation cost is estimated to be approximately $78 per sq. ft.
- It is helpful to keep in mind that there are many costs associated with any construction or renovation project (building codes, etc.) that may not be immediately apparent. We are learning a lot through this process. For example, because we are expanding our worship gathering space, we are required to add an additional fire sprinkler system in that room. These investments ensure we are providing a safe and sustainable place for our church.
- Why start when we don’t have all the money? A Facilities Team Member who works in the construction business assures me we currently have enough money on hand to get the construction and renovation to a safe and conducive point – not leaving any dangerous or exposed areas. Meaning we can get the expansion in the dry and climate controlled, and hopefully over the next 275 days we can raise the rest of the money to finish what we started together.
- It is important to note we have already renovated the Children’s wing of the building to accommodate the expansion.
WHAT ARE WE GETTING FROM THE EXPANSION AND RENOVATION?
Because we have chosen to add-on to our current facility instead of just building a new building to the west or the south, we will be getting:
- A very functional facility that is easy to navigate. Have you ever been to a church building that obviously has had many additions? We are not building a maze and that is a good thing.
- A more secure children’s area. We hope to move most, if not all, of our children’s ministry to the west side of the building. The area will have a secure check-in area that will restrict unnecessary traffic.
- New welcome and gathering space and new way-finding space. It may not matter to people who are comfortable coming to a crowded building, but people need to be able to enter the building without feeling like they are shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.
- A cafe area to serve guests and facilitate community, as well as to offer a flexible space for ministry throughout the week.
- New storage space. There will be a space to store the basketball goals and most of the chairs we don’t use. This will help us free up worship gathering space.
- More worship gathering space. Depending on how the chairs are set up, we believe that by de-cluttering the room, we can increase our seating capacity by up to 40%. This may provide us with the opportunity to go back to one worship gathering.
- New entry access. Our current building has one point of entry. The expanded version will have three with a new covered drive on the west side where there will be a new concrete turn-around.
- A new conference room on the east side of the building with a new bathroom across the hall.
- A reconfigured office space.
- A new entrance to the bathrooms.
- A new guest/connection center so people can find information before they go into the worship center. This will be located in the existing welcome area, which will also free up the worship gathering space.
- An updated aesthetic. Not everyone values the looks of a building, but we always want to make a good first impression. Nothings should be offensive but the gospel. Within reason, we don’t want the building to be a barrier for people.
The extra time we have taken to refine the plan to optimize what we have, and to build something we can afford, has worked to our advantage. I believe this current project will get us close to having a building that could be a complete facility for the foreseeable future. We may yet need to add a minimal amount of children’s space, and we would also like to provide a dedicated youth space, but I believe those are much smaller projects compared to our current project.
Thank you for your continued patience and support. Again, if this spurs questions, please feel free to call or set up a time to speak with me. I am eager to speak with you and I will do my best to get you as many answers as possible. May God be glorified as we work together to trust and obey all Jesus commanded.
In case you were not able to be at the Reunion Dinner this past Sunday Night, we shared that currently we have received pledges for $503,051 from 34 families/individuals. We thank God for those who have set a high standard of faith and generosity toward our goal of expanding our current facility.
Our hope is that the generosity of the 34 will move the rest of us to participate in what God is doing among the whole church family.
Our goal is to raise $1.15 million. It seems beyond us and perhaps it is, but It’s not a question of: if we can do it, but rather do we have the will to do it?
The 34 lead commitments average almost $15,000 per commitment. We believe that there are still around 150 families/individuals who could participate in the Building Up Campaign. If all 150 families contributed an average of $4,500 over a 3-year period, we would reach our goal.
Some might not be able to give $4,500 but we can all sacrifice something based on what God has provided to each of us as stewards of His creation.
Everyone can do something. Here’s what we hope each person would do as a part of “Building Up.”
- Pray and ask God what your part is.
- Tithe. Give regularly, joyfully and sacrificially to the church budget. We would rather you start here than give to the building fund if you are not already giving regularly.
- Stretch. Several people have already increased their original commitment because of their willingness to be stretched by God.
- Trust. God is able to supply all of our needs. Do you believe that?
- Hand in a commitment card on “Commitment Sunday” so we can know where we are in our campaign efforts.
A young man in our youth group came up to me after the Reunion Event on Sunday Night and said: “Pastor Brent, I have been thinking about what I might do for ‘Building Up.’ I recently got a job and I want to start giving $5 every two weeks. Do you think that is a good idea?” I responded: “I think that is great because you have a willing heart and your little means a lot to the God who knows your heart.”
I’m looking forward to what God does in each of our hearts as we ask: “Lord, what do you want to do through me?”
I said many times on Sunday that the building a local church meets in cannot be the main thing. The mission of the church is not to build buildings and we cannot afford to let facilities distract us, but neither can we ignore facilities as though they don’t matter. The building is a tool for a church that enables it to accomplish much of what a church is to be and do.
The building is not irrelevant.
As a matter of fact, in our culture and time I am inclined to argue that the building is more significant than it was in times past (1st to 4th Century), and in other countries like China where religion that is not sanctioned by the government is illegal. We might say that a building is not necessary but in some ways it is contextually helpful and portrays certain things about the local church that meets in it.
For example, a building portrays:
- Our commitment to gather to worship God through Christ and build up His body. A building is a visible reminder to a community and to the people of a church that they have prioritized the assembling of themselves as instructed in the Bible. Does a church need to own a building to gather, worship and build up? No. But unlike a school a church meets in, a building for the church is a visible and tangible commitment to gather and everyone can see that.
- Our willingness to unify to share resources to maintain a place we can gather.Would I rather give most of the money for facilities to missions? Would I rather give the money I use to pay for my house and utilities to the church and missions? Yes on both. But I do need a place to live just as a local church needs a place to gather and that place represents shared sacrifice for the building up of the body of Christ.
- Our commitment to staying and pressing forward. Last year the Oklahoma State Cowboys Football Team had an Offensive Coordinator who made plenty of money and never bought a home in Stillwater. Rather he rented a suite in the Cimarron Best Western and ended up staying one year and went on to other things. By his lack of commitment it was fairly obvious he never intended to plant himself in the community. Our building means we are planted here as a people and it represents our presence in this community.
- Our vision and ambition to share Christ with more people. Our desire to expand what we currently have is one that is based on an immediate need but also one that is based on the hope for a better future. We believe we are going to grow in number and we hope our facility will allow us to grow people in Christ-likeness. Being able to accommodate more people represents the hope of sending more on missions. It represents the hope of seeing more people delivered from sin and addiction. It represents the hope of seeing more people trust and follow Christ for all of their lives and for the rest of their lives. I don’t think the building is the only mark of an ambitious and growing church, but I think it does represent an ambition to do greater things for a great Lord and Savior.
The building is not the point but it certainly isn’t pointless. It in part represents hopes and dreams for the future and I hope that whatever we do, whether we build or don’t build, we will do it for the glory of God and the sake of the gospel of Jesus our Lord. It can be done.
I was recently asked the question: “Is expending this much money on this project the best use of our money as we aim to share Christ with the world and disciple our members?”
The question as to whether it is worth the time, effort and money to expand our current facility is certainly a welcome and worthwhile question. Because of various influences in my own life and because of convictions and preferences I have developed, I have asked that question periodically along the way of the last year-and-a-half. I know there will always be people who don’t want to build anything because they don’t want to spend money. I know there will be some people who always want to build something because they have money. I know there are some people who can’t imagine that amount of money because they have so little money. So then, how do we know this is what God would have us do? Or we might also ask, “Do we know that God doesn’t want us to do this?”
Having said that, here are some thoughts I thought in response to the aforementioned question:
- The Bible, inspired by the Spirit, does not condemn buildings or even aesthetically pleasing buildings. It does condemn selfishness, hoarding and waste. Is it wasteful to build or not to build? that is an important question.
- We get a lot of use out of our building. Some of our building receives unnecessary wear and tear because of its size and layout. Would an expanded facility help with this? I think our current plan would, while still allowing us to get maximum use. If we were building a facility that we had no need of, which would equal no use, then I would not want to build.
- Functionality can be a barrier for people. Every space is useful to the degree that it is functional for a certain number of people. I have a firm conviction that our current facility will not allow us to accommodate more people on a consistent basis. It is true that we don’t know if that is the problem, but I certainly think it is a part of it.
- Aesthetics can be a barrier for people. Whether right or wrong, some people identify churches by the way they look. I’m not saying ours looks bad. I am saying it could look better. We don’t want our building to look like Jesus is broke and God don’t care. I would even argue that God does care what things look like based on our ability as creatures to appreciate the beauty in the creation. We will never have an extravagantly ornate building, but we can have a building that appeals to those in our community.
- Growth needs to be accommodated. Going to two services only solves a fraction of the challenge we face when it comes to space. As I traveled down the hall just before our worship gathering this past Sunday, I had to bob and weave to avoid the people. I don’t mind that. My guess is that not everyone is like me. I dream of the day when we would be strong enough to solve our need for more space by planting churches. I don’t think we are there yet.
- There’s a real opportunity for unity by building. In some ways a building project is a program or event, and a visible one at that. We must be careful thought to make this “event” one that is a means to a greater end as we work together to trust God for the resources we need and want.
- There’s a real opportunity for discipleship by building. The bottom line is that there are a good portion of the people who attend Eagle Heights, and many who are members, who are giving nothing or little to nothing. What we do with our money is a discipleship issue. If we have given our life to Christ and not given our money to Him then how can we say we have given our lives to Him. It’s His anyway. I see this as an opportunity to call people to trust God with their money.
- If there is a better way for us to spend our money, why aren’t we doing it now? Every year we ask for money for missions and for the budget and for Stillwater Life Services and so on, and every year we make do with what we have. Is this project going to keep us from what we have been doing and should be doing? It is true we could spend this money on something else but the question becomes, would we have this money to spend at all? People have disposable income. All of us do. We just spend it on other things. Maybe this will challenge people to give more to other good things once we are done raising the money we need for this joint venture.
- Leadership. Can we turn around now? Can we shut this down after spending the money we already have? Is that good stewardship? I would suggest we would if God made it crystal clear that we are not to move forward. He may yet do it. But we have prayed and planned with due diligence, and God hasn’t put the brakes on in anyone’s heart and mind yet.
- The pervading atmosphere and existing culture. Many people are sensitive to the downturn in the economy and I think they are sensitive to the waste we have seen in large institutions. I myself wonder why we think we need some of the things we do, especially when the world lives with so little. Should I give up my house because the economy is tough and so few live with so little in the rest of the world? I suppose I would if Jesus made it clear that this is what I was to do. He has the right to do it. I do know however, we have to balance a giving and generous attitude to all peoples as best we can while realizing we are here trying to make disciples in our own context. We must be good stewards while guarding against a restrictive legalism and self-righteousness.
- Sandwiches, Buildings and Consistency. It is biblical and right to be a good steward and to want to be sacrificial so as to give to the best things. But be careful to be consistent. When ordering from the menu, do you think the same way about ordering your food as you do about spending money on the church building? Do you buy the most expensive sandwich, but expect the church to skimp and order only from the dollar menu? Do you furnish your house ornately, but expect the building the church meets in to look like an empty model home? This could be an opportunity to see if you are consistently rich toward yourself and toward God and His people.
- The church is not a building but does meet in buildings. This has always been true for God’s people. Whether someone is paying for their house so people can use it as a meeting place, or whether a bunch of people are paying for a community building so they can have a meeting place. Somebody is going to have to pay for a place to meet. It’s really that simple.
In complete honesty, building a building doesn’t get me revved up. It’s not why I became a pastor. My gift is not capital campaigns. But having the ability to accommodate more people so that we can continue to make disciples, warms me to the idea. Sometimes you need to do things you don’t necessarily desire to do, to get to do the things you love and want to do. I see this as a means to an end and I have yet to believe that God wants us to end the effort to build. If God ends it, I’ll trust Him still, because He is the end for which we build and live.
I hope this helps.