LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Turning a Church Building Into a Community Center

I think one of the primary problems with churches that own buildings is that people begin to think that the church is a building. We say, “Invite your friend to church” or “Be sure you come to church this weekend,” as though the building is the church. But we don’t really mean that. We mean to say, “You are the church. The church isn’t a building. The church is the people of God.” So which is it? Am I the church, or is this building the church? We call the property the “church campus” but then say it’s a place to offer help to the community. Wouldn’t that be like calling my home the “Stevens’ House” and then trying to convince people it is open to everyone? Sure doesn’t sound very open.

So deep within Granger's 2016 vision to activate the campus is a plan to turn all the terminology upside down. What if the “church campus” was called Harbor Ridge? (This isn’t a real name, just a placeholder for sake of illustration). But imagine if the entire community knew that Harbor Ridge was the place you go for hope and healing. People want groceries, they think of Kroger or Jewel. People want clothes and they think of Target or the mall. People need medical attention, they might think of the 24-Hour Medical Center. What if, in the same way, people thought of Harbor Ridge as the place in the community they go for hope and healing, at their moments of greatest need.

Need help with your marriage? There are classes and counseling available at Harbor Ridge led by followers of Jesus. Need help figuring out how to be a great parent? There is coaching available at Harbor Ridge that is based on Scripture. You ask, “Why not just say those things are at the church?” Because most people in our society don’t see the church as a viable place to go for help. Many people, especially those in the 60 percent, would never consider visiting a church. If it’s at the church—they won’t go. But if it’s at Harbor Ridge—is it possible they might visit?

Need help with your kids because you both work? Bring them to the preschool at Harbor Ridge. Are your finances a mess? Catch a Financial Peace University class at Harbor Ridge. Struggling with addictions? Recovering from the loss of a child? The first thought that would come to your mind, “I bet Harbor Ridge has something that could help me.”

The place you think of at the biggest moments of transition or crisis in your life—such as weddings or funerals – you think of The Chapel at Harbor Ridge.

And every function, every event, every interaction with every guest is filled with faith and love and spiritual intentionality. People who come to Harbor Ridge for anything walk away having been touched by the love and grace of a Jesus-follower.

Oh, and where does Granger Community Church meet? Lots of places all over our community, but in Granger, we meet at Harbor Ridge.

We think this change in terminology will help the community. But we also believe it will help to reinforce to our people that they are the church. And they cannot be contained in a building.

What you just read is an excerpt from my newest book, VISION: Lost & Found. It's not just theory. We are actually doing this. Stay tuned for details in my article tomorrow.