More than anything, we want to be a Gospel church and we want to be on mission.
Our mission — as you’ve heard many times here — is to honor God by multiplying devoted followers of Jesus through worship, community, training, and witness. And God’s given us that message because of the person of Jesus Christ, to make disciples, not only here in Columbus — in our “Jerusalem,” to use Acts 1:8 language — but to the ends of the earth, in desperate need of Him.
We’ve been actively involved in that at Grace for the last 53 plus years, and it is safe to say that buildings are not our mission; the Gospel is. But we’re grateful for the spaces that God has given to us to pursue and facilitate that very mission. We are now at a point in the life of our church where we stand at the starting line of a major upgrade for our facilities. In fact, we’re not just at the starting line; we’ve made significant progress and today we’d like to give you an update on those plans, the financing of them, and some of the timelines we’re working with.
The Forrest Family Ministry Center
First, we’re beginning a construction of the Forrest Family Ministry Center on the south parking lot. The Ministry Center addresses our need for spaces to replace the rooms in the Discipleship Center, now being used by Worthington Christian Schools, as a result of our long-term lease agreement. We’ll have eight new classrooms, several of them specifically outfitted for existing groups. We’ll have a large multipurpose space — a unique venue unlike anything we’ve enjoyed previously—it features a full-service kitchen, a conference room, and more. Use of the Ministry Center will greatly benefit us approximately a year from now during the renovation of our Worship Center.
Worship Center Renovation
The Worship Center renovation includes new flooring, new seating, new stage areas, and new infrastructure that we’ve needed for quite a while, as well as brand new lighting and audio/visual equipment capabilities. And when that’s completed, we anticipate it will confirm how long we’ve needed those upgrades.
Together the Ministry Center construction and the Worship Center renovation is what we’re calling “Reaching Beyond.” It, we pray, will allow us to better reach beyond and reach into the lives of people with the Gospel here in Columbus and Central Ohio. I’m happy to report, by God’s grace, we have seen tremendous progress in the financing of Reaching Beyond. And remember, we’re committed to these projects in a way that avoids any long-term debt. Here are some specifics of where we are…
As part of our agreement with Worthington Christian Schools, we’ve received $3.5 million which we’ve allocated to the Ministry Center — in large measure, the replacement spaces. We received a designated gift of $1.2 million from the John Barnhart Farm and, with your approval, allocated that to the Ministry Center. Last winter and spring you gave around $2.1 million to Worship Center renovation and those monies will go exclusively to that project.
Since then the Reaching Beyond campaign has received news of an estate gift, a gift of property, and additional contributions totaling around $1.7 million, with several hundred thousand of that being received in cash in recent weeks. And, we have to say, the generosity of more than several handfuls of Grace people has been nothing short of amazing! We’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of people of different means here at Grace, some who God has given something to who say, “I want this to be used for Great Commission purposes.” I’m sure you join us in thanking them and rejoicing in the progress that God has given to us.
So, here’s where that puts us currently: We have around $8.5 million designated for Reaching Beyond in a project that totals around $11 million, and in about a week, over $7 million of that will have been received in cash with much of the remaining $8.5 to be given by the end of this calendar year, which is truly amazing. That is the Grace of God, which means we are almost 80% of the way toward reaching our goal. That is really exciting. Since it’s football season, let’s put it in football terms, we are nearing the “red zone,” and if you don’t know football, that’s a good thing!
Nearing the End Zone
So, here’s the plan to reach the end zone of Reaching Beyond. By now you should have received in your mailbox a letter and a commitment card. If you haven’t, please request a commitment card here.
We’re asking you to consider what you might commit to give over the next three years, through 2020, to help us reach our goal. Remember, the key is not equal giving; it’s equal sacrifice.
Lots of gifts, including modest gifts, go a long way. You might say, “Well, I can’t give those kinds of amounts.” We don’t want you to. We want you to ask God, “What can I contribute to that?” What is possible for you over those three years? We know that hundreds of you have already given, over 600 families earlier this year and many with great generosity. So, in 2017 if a gift is still possible, that’s great. But perhaps it’s not and that’s fine, as well. What we’re asking you to do is consider what you can give above and beyond over the next three years. Earlier this year our congregation gave $2.1 million within a handful of months including about $1 million on one Sunday with little advance notice. In light of that, our elders are confident that raising $2.5 million over three years is more than doable. In fact, those elders have already led the way. The majority have made commitments through 2020 to Reaching Beyond. The question is, what can you give? We believe that together Reaching Beyond, this vision, can be realized.
Above and Beyond
Please, as you prayerfully consider giving toward Reaching Beyond, make any giving above and beyond your normal giving pattern at Grace. While it might feel good to give to a capital campaign using your normal giving to our ongoing ministries, it’s actually not. You know what above and beyond is; it’s not left pocket to right pocket. “I brought this for my normal giving, but hey, that sounds more interesting.” Actually, that’s detrimental to our church and to our ministry. So, let me give you three little points and maybe you’ll find where you fit:
- If you don’t yet have a pattern of giving to your local church, here at Grace, that is most important. That’s a first priority, well beyond any capital campaign.
- If you do have that pattern, we would ask you, as your church family, to continue that current level or slightly increase it if you’re able. That’s really important, especially during a campaign.
- And finally, if you’re willing and able to give above and beyond toward this facility vision, whether it’s small or large, that is really ideal and we would invite you to do so.
Together we are confident of what God can do through hearts and through resources that are devoted to Him.
I don’t know about you, but it excites me when I see those numbers. I get a chance to see them every week, at least every day, and I don’t know how many times I just have to bow before our Lord and thank Him for His wonderful generosity that He bestows upon us through people like you. So, I ask that you continue to pray for the campaign and for the Ministry Center construction.
People ask me, “Well, when’s it going to start?” We were hoping this would be the week. First of all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our architect, Greg Eller, and our construction people, Lincoln Construction. Three months ago we decided to make a switch and go back to our original plan. They had all the renovation plans in front of them, finishing them up. So, they had to put those aside and dig out the Ministry Center plans. And for the last three months, they’ve been working extremely hard so we could get something started soon, and I really appreciate their hard work on that.
Right now, we’ve got almost everything done. We’re sitting with our permits at the city of Columbus, waiting for them to give their okay. Friday we heard that they’ll probably give us the okay by the end of the week or the beginning of next week, so we can get started on the project.
When the project begins the south entrance doors will be closed. They’ll be open until you see fences up around the area. Once the construction starts the south entrances will be closed through the whole project, so please use the north doors as you come in after the construction begins.
We’re looking forward to things getting started, so I’d ask you to pray for several things. Please pray for the capital campaign. We’re close; it’s exciting! Please pray for the construction as it begins. Pray for protection and wisdom for those who are working. Pray for good weather. You know, the longer we have good weather, the greater chance of getting more done. And also, pray for the city of Columbus that they might give us that final permit. Continue to pray.
Thanks for your generosity.