Why do we want a building?
You have inevitably heard that we are moving into a building located at 2333 Western Ave, in Belltown, with our first Sunday on March 29th. We will simultaneously be moving to two services at 9:00am and 11:15am. Jesus has been so kind to us over our last four years as a church plant. We’ve met in condos, apartments, office conference rooms, various party rooms, other church’s buildings, community centers, the Underground Tour, an office lobby, and four theaters within AMC. Not once have we lacked a space to meet and gather.
Benefits of being a mobile church
In many ways it has been a tremendous blessing to be a mobile church. It forced us to embrace the biblical notion of the local church as a people, not a place; that Jesus is our home, not a building. It required many to trust Jesus by stepping-up to volunteer for our weekly set-up/tear-down. It cultivated dependency, patience, and prayer as we adapted to whatever space we had and looked for our next. It allowed us to keep a streamlined budget without larger facility costs. It also helped shape us as a very hospitable people.
Challenges to being a mobile church
Yet, there are downsides to being mobile. First, being mobile is very challenging to coordinate as we need to work within the calendars, limitations, and availability of other spaces. Second, being mobile does not allow our entire staff team to office together, let alone volunteers and interns. Third, being mobile prevents us from having separate space and office hours for counseling. Fourth, being mobile limits our ability to host and/or participate in citywide events. Fifth, being mobile makes accommodating our bustling children’s ministry very difficult. Sixth, being mobile spreads our resources and gear throughout the city (e.g. we have an office at the Westin, band gear at Denny Park Lutheran, Sunday gear at AMC, and other gear in our individual homes). Seventh, being mobile doesn’t allow us to create any sort of substantive, visible, faithful presence in the city we’re called to. There are other challenges, but these are among the most significant.
Our search for a new space
Therefore, over the last year and a half, we have scoured the downtown core for a more permanent space to accommodate our growing church. We have looked at purchase options to buy. We have looked at lease options. We have spoken with every theater, every concert hall, every rock venue, every hotel, every convention space. We found nothing. But, all that changed in December when we approached the owners of 2333 Western for the seventh time and – to make a long story, short – we now have a five-year lease.
Benefits of having a building
Securing this particular building for our next season of life and mission together will: (1) allow us to centralize our church life (office, meetings, leadership labs, prayer nights, classes, trainings, counseling, and more); (2) allow us to create a more substantive and visible presence in the city; (3) give us more options to handle growth (i.e. multiple services); (4) give us more opportunities to host and participate in community-sponsored events; (5) save time and volunteer resources now required as a mobile church; (6) better provide and care for our children and families; (7) save us hundreds of thousands of dollars on build-out; and (8) be more readily accessible. In a word, this is a huge evidence of God’s grace. All told, there are tremendous benefits to having our own building that serves as a central hub for declaring and displaying the goodness of the good news of Jesus in this city we all love.
Challenges to having a building
As with anything, there are potential negative side-effects to having a building that we should be aware of. (1) A building can cause a church to think they’ve “arrived” and become subtly lulled to sleep as consumers rather than fiery, faith-filled participants; (2) A building can cause a church to shift from a “living sent” to a “come and sit” mentality, thus taking the edge off our call to spread the gospel; (3) A building can also cause a shift of resources and energy to up-keep rather than an ongoing pursuit and love for actual people. These are real dangers, but they do not outweigh the benefits of having a building. Provided that we seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness (Mt6:33) we can trust him to keep us out of these potential snares.
Here we go…
I couldn’t be more excited and, to be honest, slightly overwhelmed by this turn of events. But, I trust our good and faithful God is leading the way, just as He has up until now. He will not falter or fail to keep His promises to us. He cannot not be faithful. That’s who He is. Let’s keep our first love our first love (Rev2:4), pressing forward together, and ask Him to do above and beyond all that we ask think or imagine (Eph 3:20-21). There are still many in this city who are His (Acts 18:10).
Until the world knows,