The year was 1983…
Were you around? Do you remember where you were?
What did your house or residence look like in 1983? What were the styles like? What was the most contemporary design? What did people value?
Ronald Reagan was our new president. The economy was growing rapidly. The space shuttle program had launched. For many it was “morning in America.”
In that same year Grace Polaris Church (then Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, Ohio) had just completed a multimillion-dollar building program. The new Worship Center rose from a recently purchased plot of farmland at the corner of Lazelle and Worthington Galena Road. The church grew and big auditoriums were “in.” So were pews and hues of orange. In addition Grace seemed to be the only big Bible-teaching church in Worthington and northward.
A lot has changed in the 33 years since then. We’ve had four additional presidents…soon to be five. The space shuttle program has come and gone. The Cold War ended. A new millennium dawned. The psyche of our nation was pierced by 9/11. The Great Recession struck. It’s a whole new world. But that’s only the macro-picture. The internet, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and social media are just a few of the micro developments with worldwide import since 1983.
Closer to home: Grace has sent out dozens of missionaries, trained hundreds of church leaders, and birthed a handful of new churches, near and far. Other evangelical churches, large and small, began all across northern Columbus. Southern Delaware County boomed in population. The northern side of Columbus grew from an easily-overlooked cornfield to a thriving commercial landscape: Polaris!
Pastor Jim Custer led Grace for almost another 25 years. Pastor Dave Plaster came and, all too soon, graduated from us. The Living Christmas Trees concerts were created, touching hundreds of thousands of people over 30 years. Worthington Christian Schools (WCS) continued developing into the leading Christian education program it is today. We’ve added the Family Center, Discipleship Center, and Early Childhood Center.
The world has changed. Central Ohio has changed. The Church in America has changed. Generations have changed. Everything has changed, you and I included. Well…almost everything.
The Worship Center of Grace Polaris Church hasn’t changed. With very few exceptions the building erected in 1983 (on a limited budget and aggressive timeframe) remains in its original state. The structure, the pews, the carpet, the cramped hallways, the classrooms, the lighting, the audio and video equipment—most of these things remain unchanged, and a few only modestly altered, since 1983.
With each passing year our spaces communicate in increasing volume that they belong in the previous millennium. If those of us who have attended Grace for some time think our facilities need an update, just imagine what newcomers must feel! We have one chance to make a first impression, and our spaces increasingly showcase a dated facility which hinders the types of relational connections and ministry effectiveness we desire to foster.
Is it time for a change? Are we ready for an update? Might we benefit from spaces that fit our day?
If the world around us has changed, shouldn’t we? Our message doesn’t change; it cannot change. The Gospel of Jesus Christ stays the same: life-changing yesterday, today, and in the future. But how we present it and how we present ourselves…shouldn’t that change? Don’t we want to live in and invite others to spaces that say, “This fits us. I can feel at home here. I want others to join me.”
Most of us don’t live in the same place that we did in 1983. We’ve moved since then. Chances are many of us live in places that have been built since that year. And for those who reside in a home that predates 1983, it’s highly likely that major updates and even renovation have taken place. Why? Places age. Things break. Styles change. Needs arise. Opportunities beckon.
So let’s ask ourselves: If we’re willing and ready to invest ourselves, our time, and our money in making the spaces in our homes comfortable, modern, and inviting, then why wouldn’t we have that same desire for the places where we gather to celebrate the greatest news ever and to prepare ourselves to share it with others?
For almost all of us, the answer is obvious. We do have the desire, and it’s past time to pursue it…not just for us but for those we invite to join with us and for the sake of future generations.
Does that resonate with you? Are you willing to reach beyond the present and make possible a new reality?
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Our mission at Grace is to honor God by multiplying devoted followers of Jesus through worship, community, training, and witness. It’s another way of saying that we want to make disciples of all nations—from our neighborhoods to the other side of the world—to the glory of God. In the coming years we want to pursue that with passion and resolve.
One pathway to fulfilling our mission is the reinvigoration of our base community, Grace Polaris Church, as we reach beyond ourselves. That renewal includes our hearts, certainly, but it also includes the ways in which we pursue mission and even the spaces we use to gather.
We believe such a plan fuels our mission. A new Ministry Center and a renovated Worship Center allow us to enjoy community with other believers and to invite guests and newcomers into such relationships. Renewed facilities give people easier and more enjoyable ways to mobilize their training in acts of service. Such facility updates will allow us to more effectively communicate the Gospel as we expand our reach and growth potential in bearing witness to Jesus Christ.
Obviously, a new Ministry Center and comprehensive renovation of the Worship Center will require significant adjustments and investments. Like a renovation that takes place at your own home, the inconvenience will turn to joy, and we’ll eventually ask, “Why did we wait so long?!”
Our best estimates project a total cost of around 11 million dollars. At present Grace Polaris Church has substantial assets that can be applied to this capital campaign. It is our intent that all monies are raised before renovations begin. Actual giving, as opposed to pledges, will be sought. We are committed to avoiding any scenarios which require long-term debt for these renovations.
We stand before an opportunity, Grace family. It’s time! Will you join with us in making this a reality?
Ask God to reveal what He’s calling you to contribute to this initiative. Join with your spouse or family members to commit yourself to follow His leading.