Expanding Ministry, Expanding Building3 min read

Church renovations are notoriously slow. One year is considered fast. Two years is probably average. Five years is not unimaginable.

How about ten years? If a church renovation took ten years to complete, then you would automatically assume that something went seriously wrong. A building project that took a decade to complete would conjure thoughts of a careless contractor, misused money, or congregational conflict.

Is it possible for a church renovation to take ten years … and still be according to plan? St. Luke, Haslett recently completed a building project that was a decade in the works. Although the actual building phase took roughly one year, the entire plan required ten years to take shape.

Our expanded sanctuary was completed in 2006. At that time, the space below the newly renovated worship center was designed to be useable building space. However, the congregation did not have a clear plan for how the space might be used. For a number of years the lower level housed inventory for a community coat bank, provided some teaching space, and served as general storage.  However, the congregation was slowly running out of space on account of steady growth in preschool, Bible classes, and student ministry.

The congregation formed a Building Modification Action Team in 2014. This team was charged with the task of determining the most crucial needs of the congregation and how best to use the lower level space. After this team had completed the preliminary planning, a capital campaign (God’s Glory Our Story) began to secure funding for the project. While the God’s Glory Our Story campaign was happening, a building action team identified architects, received bids, and selected a construction manager.

“The construction manager approach is highly recommended. Rather than managing all the subcontractors yourself, the construction manager interfaces with all subcontractors and ensures work quality and holds contractors accountable. He reported to us with a weekly status meeting about what was going on and any problems along the way,” said Steve DeBoer, Facilities Manager.

The final plan for the space included a Music Center, Student Center, large teaching space with multimedia technology, kitchenette, bathrooms, and ample seating for conversation and coffee. The building phase of the renovation was completed after one year, and the congregation celebrated a dedication for the space on February 28, 2016.

“It has been a great place for students to come and learn. They hang out in the Student Center and bond together. This is a great resource and tool for us to do ministry,” said Tom Chester, Youth Director.

Ten years may seem like a long time to complete a renovation. It was, however, a very intentional decade of planning and prayer. Many generations came and went before God sent Jesus Christ to redeem a fallen creation in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). And, as the Bride of Christ, the church waits for God to provide exactly the right time to move forward in ministry.

Cover photo (c) shapecharge/iStock. Photos of church basement courtesy of St. Luke, Haslett.

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About the Author

Rev. A. Trevor Sutton serves as Associate Pastor at St. Luke, Haslett. He is in the Writing & Rhetoric graduate program at Michigan State University. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Okemos and have two daughters.

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