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Campus Renovation is Underway!
by Tom Goodman
April 23, 2009

I'm amazed at God.  As we told the church in last night's business meeting, about $800,000 has dropped into our lap.

The timing couldn't be better, since it's time to get to work on renovating our church campus.

When Bob Flaherty died in 2007, he left most of his estate to our church.  Complications in how he executed the will delayed the gift until now, but $675,000 of his estate will soon be put to work.  In addition, a partnership with Casner Christian Academy, a local preschool, has come with a gift of $150,000.

We'll spend God's gift on campus improvements.  We have fantastic space in a fantastic location, but our space needs some updating and upgrading.  That's one of the three renovations I believe God called me to lead when I arrived here in May 2003.  I believe God called me here to lead the renovation of our heart, our program, and our space.  I've been speaking and writing about this for the last six years.

First, the renovation of our heart means that we need to renew how we think.  We're learning how to be a congregation where Austin can find and follow Jesus together.  Some churches are very effective at helping people find Jesus, but they don't really focus on helping people grow once they've come to faith.  Other churches are very effective at helping people follow Jesus, but frankly they're uncomfortable with the issues and questions that seekers raise.  Our church needs to be where people can come together to meet Jesus and grow in him.  I prepared an eight-day devotional guide that will help you understand this better.  You can download a copy from our website.

Second, the renovation of our program means that we need to renew what we do.  Missionaries in a foreign place try to connect with the culture of the people they're called to reach, and we have to do the same thing in the mission field God has called us to reach.  Trying to think as missionaries to Austin has resulted in changes to our schedule and our worship services and our programming.  Theology never changes, but methodology has to.

Third, the renovation of our space means that we need to renew how we look.  Across the last several years, our focus has been on the first two renovations.  Now we're ready to make some updating and upgrading to our facilities -- and isn't it amazing that this unexpected income of $800,000 came just as we've been wondering how to get started!

Why should we improve our facilities?  Because it sends a message.

I read about the East Seventh Street Baptist Church in New York City.  No one in the neighborhood refers to it by that name.  They all call it "The Graffiti Church."  The pastor's business card even uses that title.

Why is it nicknamed "The Graffiti Church"?  When Baptists began their work in that location in 1974, the place was covered with spray-painted artwork, slogans, and gang signs.  Anytime they painted the walls, more graffiti would appear.  Since they couldn't beat them the decided to join them, and church leaders began adding their own spray-painted work to the walls: Bible verses and artwork with Christian themes starting appearing alongside the work of neighborhood taggers.

Now that's what I call "evandalism"!  (Groan!)

When I read about the Graffiti Church, it made me think:  What does our church campus "say" to our neighborhood?  Our congregation's "look" sends a message.  Fair or not, people draw conclusions about our ministry from the way we take care of the facility.

Did you know that God actually withholds his blessing from those who pay more attention to their own house and business than they do to the place where he is worshipped?  In Haggai 1:1-9, he actually says we should pay attention to the building where he is worshipped "so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored."

God says we "honor" him by paying attention to the place where we praise his Name and study his Word.

This church knows how to build.  Within the last ten years you renovated the multipurpose center, and you built a three-story education building.  You were already at work updating and upgrading our campus before I got here.  I'm glad I'm here to join you in that ongoing work!

As things progress, I'll let you know more about how we plan to improve the building.  But I'm looking forward to upgrades to the children/preschool wing, additional parking, and an entryway/foyer.

The scale of renovation that has to happen will take a lot more than the $800,000 we announced last night.  But I'm glad God has provided so generously so that we can start this process!


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