Welcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast! Thanks for joining us for our chat today with Jamey Stuart from Believers Church in Suffolk, Virginia.
Believers Church is an active church with a unique story surrounding their building. The church is full of energy with an average age of 35 and lots of young families. Being in a military town, the congregation is very diverse and constantly changing. Today we’re speaking with Jamey about how they handled facility issues as they grew.
- Multi-site isn’t always the answer. // Growth always brings challenges, regardless of whether it is explosive, or slow and steady like Believers Church has experienced over the years. When Jamey first became senior pastor, Believers Church was in the process of turning a gymnasium-type building into a new sanctuary and converting the old sanctuary into the new kids’ space. They were reconfiguring their space constantly, moving offices around and freeing up more space for kids ministry. As soon as they freed up space it got filled. However, Jamey and his team felt the solution to their facility space issues wasn’t multi-site. Instead Believers decided to seek a bigger and better space while putting their existing space up for sale.
- Campaign on an idea. // Jamey wasn’t sure exactly what their next step was, but he felt very strongly that they needed to be prepared for whatever God put in front of them. The problem was, they didn’t have cash on hand to be able to move when that opportunity came. So they did a capital campaign simply based on the idea that they needed a bigger and better space. They didn’t have a drawing or a map or anything picked out; they only had an idea of a bigger space. Yet from this idea, they raised over one million dollars in two years. Casting a compelling vision for why you’re doing what you’re doing is key to inviting that investment and commitment from your community.
- Be open to new ideas. // During this time, the staff at Believers attended a free lunch seminar at Building God’s Way to explore ideas for the design of their new church. The old church property was still for sale, but it wasn’t too soon to start thinking about ideas for what they wanted in the new building and where God might be leading them. During the Building God’s Way seminar, they were challenged to consider constructing a space to be used not just for multiple church events, but rather a host of events within their community. The idea of constructing an event center immediately clicked with Believers Church and they began to dream about the possibilities in Suffolk. Eventually they bought land and began a building project for the Hub 757 event center, which the church uses on weekends for their services.
- Serve your community. // Jamey says Believers Church now sees themselves as a portable church with a permanent location. As a result, they don’t have expectations of accessing the space whenever they want because they share it with many other organizations and businesses who rent the space during the week. Believers does not use any church money to pay for event center costs. Rather the event center is a separate organization generating its own revenue, which is also put toward paying off the loan needed to construct it. The event coordinator hired to take care of hosting events attends Believers Church, but is also paid from the event center income. Hub 757 has hosted everything from weddings to catered business events to birthday parties, and the local chamber of commerce loves that it’s there for the community.
- Break down hurdles. // When it comes to church, meeting in an event center immediately breaks down barriers for people. Unchurched people are often intimidated to come into a church building, but chances are individuals in the community are already familiar with the event center and feel comfortable walking in it. This removes one big hurdle if they are invited to come back and gather for church there because they are already familiar with the building.
- Get creative about using space in your existing church. // You don’t need a huge event center in order to bring the community into your church. No matter how big you are, many churches have space that they are only using a few days a week. Stop viewing your church as “your” space and think about how you can open it up to the community. How can you leverage the square footage that God has given you for Kingdom purposes?
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Helpful Tech Tools // OneDrive
Ministries Following // Renegade Pastors Network and Nelson Searcy
Influential Book // Servolution: Starting a Church Revolution through Serving by Dino Rizzo
Inspiring Leader // Bill Hybels
What you do for fun // Read, Ride his motorcycle