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Housing expansion brings new opportunities …. 

How does a church family set about an ambitious, multi-million pound development? First in a two-part series with Christian consultant Jim Hammett 


Church building project

In the government’s enthusiasm to develop their own UK based ‘silicon valley’ they are planning to develop five new garden towns in the south Midlands. The boomerang-shaped, 20-mile wide corridor between Oxford and Cambridge and passing through Bedford, Bletchley, Buckingham and Bicester will see population in these regions rise from the current 3.3 million to nearer 5 million in the next 30 years. No wonder then that Baptist churches in this expansion zone are on the build…they need to reach and hold more people.
Currently there are at least four Baptist churches in this area that have plans for major new buildings; Shenley Christian Fellowship in Milton Keynes, Tove Valley Centre in Towcester, Well Street in Buckingham (an ecumenical partnership) and Stony Stratford Community Church. Some are just setting out, others are into Phase 2 of their development plans. Maybe other churches in this area will need to develop faith filled plans to expand their tents. But how does a church family set about such an ambitious multi million pound development?
It starts with a faith filled journey – passion for outreach to the community, a knowledge of the needs of that community and a trust that our God will provide. It’s not just the financial provision either, it needs to include the mix of skills, governance and leadership that shares a vision and inspires others to get involved. The journey is often a long one but immensely rewarding as you witness a congregation’s faith grow as they see the plans come together and the money provided.

Church build2

But it is really a series of spiritual lessons; the true meaning of sacrificial giving (Luke 21:1-4), the faith to balance Jesus’ story of building a tower (Luke 14:28) with his teaching on His Father’s provision (John 6:9). That is what changes lives. But so too does the end product.
A new purpose built building serves the community and can become a beacon of outreach to the local area. It can place the church in a different light among local people. False impressions are broken down and then changed. Coffee shops and sports facilities, prayer rooms and rental facilities merge with church run parent and toddler groups, seniors drop in and Sunday services. An holistic Gospel is demonstrated and then shared.

But that takes a series of significant organisational steps. Ensuring there is a strong vision and passion linked to a determination to see things change. Bringing together a building group team with the requisite time and skills (or able to get expertise in to help them). Choosing a professional team of architect, quantity surveyor, mechanical and electrical consultant, structural engineer and may be even an acoustician. Raising the money from a mix of both internal giving and external fundraising. Holding together more than 80 per cent of the congregation to see through the vision so it becomes a reality.

Church build3

In Victorian times there was often a reliance on the wealthy industrialist or the philanthropic lord of the manor. Now it seems that God is using everyday ordinary congregants to sacrificially give towards His building work. There will also always be those doubters; those that feel money is better spent in overseas mission, dare we say those who haven’t grasped the grace of sacrificial giving and those who aren’t ready in their own lives for the faith journey ahead. There are those who are concrete thinkers and can picture things better when the bricks and mortar appear. Try and take those with you in the parallel teaching and cell group discussions that should accompany any well devised building project.
The website www.churchbuildingprojects.co.uk provides free downloadable materials to assist the leadership of a church on the journey. From business plan templates to the role of the architect, it takes a step by step approach to steer the inexperienced through the excitingly choppy waters of a major development project. They also have people resources to assist in steering you along the way. The Baptists Together website also provides a range of governance materials and building legal knowledge in its free downloadable Resources area. 

Next week's article will share some of the journey of one particular Baptist church who have taken that leap of faith and found God provide and expand their ministry.

Jim Hammett is a Christian consultant who is responsible for advising a number of Baptist churches undertaking substantial new build projects. He is co-author of www.churchbuildingprojects.co.uk, a free service for any church contemplating a major church building project.

Jim is also available as a consultant at whatever stage your church build journey is at, to guide you through the exciting waters of your project. Details at www.christianconsulting.org.uk.
Thanks to www.churchbuildingprojects.co.uk for the use of images in this article.


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Baptist Times, 03/10/2018
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