Most of us have a kind of love/hate relationship with money! We know money is necessary for life in our culture, but we struggle to manage our financial resources in a manner that is balanced and healthy. This, by the way, is why we offer the “Financial Peace University” program to our church family!
But the same things are true for the church. While the church is not a business and must never become a business, the church must manage resources in a sound and responsible way.
For example: the leadership of FBCG must respect the annual budget approved every year by the congregation. Part of that respect is taking care not to spend more than we receive. When the national economy began to show signs of recession in 2008, and our leadership noticed a drop in giving to FBCG’s General Fund, we immediately took steps to cut our spending by 10%. This wise decision allowed us to continue our ministries without overspending our available funds.
Sound financial stewardship is especially important when it comes to facilities. FBCG now utilizes 2 campuses that include buildings and property worth nearly $13 million. We owe less than $1.38 million on our West Campus that was built in 2004 at a total cost of over $8 million.
When we were planning Phase 1 of the West Campus in about 2002, it was assumed that Phase 2 would include a worship center capable of seating some 2,000 people at one time. But much has happened in the years since to change that assumption.
First, a worship center of that size would cost in the neighborhood of $25 million to build. FBCG simply is not large enough to take on a project of that size and the debt that it would create.
Second, the growth of the Fox Valley has slowed dramatically. While FBCG is still growing, we are not growing at the rate we were growing a decade ago and therefore we do not believe we can or should attempt a building project of that size.
Third, fewer and fewer churches in North America are building very large worship centers. The primary reason seems to be because churches are unwilling to invest that much money in a room that is only used one day a week. Congregations are also much more hesitant to take on long-term debt than they were just 10-15 years ago. The economic climate today demands that churches build more flexible and multi-use space in order to maximize the stewardship of resources.
Over the past 8 years our leadership has gradually realized that it would not be good stewardship of our financial and material resources to attempt to build one campus big enough to handle all of our ministry needs. We now believe that God has given us two campuses that can both be used in a manner that allows us to fulfill the vision he has for FBCG and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
For example: market analysis shows that our East Campus is worth roughly $2 million to prospective buyers; but it would cost nearly $10 million to reproduce that square footage at the West Campus.
We have a beautiful sanctuary at the East Campus; it doesn’t make good fiscal sense to take on debt to rebuild a similar space at West Campus when we already have the space at East. The East Campus also has a nice chapel and a renovated Student Center. Rather than seek to rebuild that space somewhere else, it seems that the wiser thing is to seek to maximize the use of space that is both functional and paid for.
We envision FBCG using multiple campuses for the foreseeable future. We believe God would have us maximize our ministry while minimizing our debt by pursing both campuses as vital parts of our total ministry.
We are working with Aspen Group – our facility consultants for the past four years or so – on a plan to develop both East and West campuses as vital parts of our ministry vision. We will begin presenting these plans to the FBCG congregation early in 2013. When you see the plans several things will jump out at you!
- You will notice that the plans involve both east and west campuses
- You will notice that there is not a plan to build a worship center large enough to seat our entire congregation; instead you will see a continuation of “multiple venues” for worship
- You will notice that an effort has been made to balance space needs for adult worship, connecting and equipping; as well as for ministries as diverse as children’s, student and women’s ministries
- You will notice that the proposed cost is much less than previous concepts you may remember
We will be asking for your input, your questions, and, ultimately, for your support! As leaders we take very seriously Paul’s charge in Romans 12 as he taught about spiritual gifts:
“..if it is leadership let him govern diligently…”
We believe diligent leadership for FBCG will be planning to maximize facilities and ministry impact while minimizing debt. We look forward to sharing these plans in much more detail over the coming months!
Pastor Brian Coffey