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Moving on to the Promised Land…. 

 


Completing a church building project is not the end of the journey - it's often just the beginning, writes Jim Hammett, Christian consultant and member of a Baptist church in Milton Keynes.  

Milton Kenyes2

 


Four years ago I wrote about one Baptist church’s journey to build a £1.8M new build in Milton Keynes. Well, the journey on to that ‘promised piece of land’ is largely complete for Shenley Christian Fellowship as Phase 1 of the build has opened and has been operational for a few years. It has become the long hoped for ‘home’ for the church family, a feeling of security and community presence, a base for mission throughout the week and a wonderful tool for growth. The journey has been one of faith challenges and holding nerve. Of a God who provides in miraculous ways and of hard grind. Perhaps not dissimilar to the experiences of the people of Israel establishing their new home. There were Jordan crossings and Jericho’s as well as the remaining ‘land to be taken’.
 
What have we learned as a congregation along the way? That weekday ministries have expanded by 20 per cent to as much as 100 per cent in the first few years. Congregations on a Sunday have expanded by about 20 per cent. New opportunities have come up as members of the congregation have seen new openings for healing and prayer ministries.

There have been people coming to faith and contact with many local people in the community which would never have happened in the ‘old tents’. About a thousand people a week come in to a building that now seems to offer a focal point for the community. Perhaps the church building is returning to its medieval position as the focal point of a community? The hub of activity. There have been many blessings and financial loans are being steadily paid off.
 
Milton Keynes1

So is it all milk and honey? No. There have been a series of faith challenges along the way which draw us closer to relying on God each day. The café that opened didn’t last and is now re-opening with a different model of operation. Within a year the congregation moved to two services to fit in with the growth. That was expected, but has stretched resources.

Like many other churches who build new buildings, they experience rapid numerical growth in the first few years of opening. In a survey, undertaken in 2015, of ten church new build projects, eight had out-grown their main meeting space within five years. There has also been a steep learning curve for a church family that have never owned a building and are now managing a bustling community facility. How do you keep a firm focus on ministry and not allow the day to day maintenance of a resource occupy your energy?
 
There is also the small matter of Phase 2 with a new auditorium and a youth zone and another £1.7M that needs to be built to alleviate the pressures of growth. God never seems to let people ‘stand still’ in their faith journey. There is always more ‘land to be taken’. Perhaps that’s because He is more interested in our journey and relationship with Him, our proximity in faith-walking, than ever with bricks and mortar.

 


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, 10/10/2018
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