Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reorganizing...with a purpose...

After almost 27 years of marriage, I've learned a few things about my wife and myself. I am one of those people prone to get into a rut and stay there with my surroundings. I have stuff arranged a certain way in my office, on my desk, my dresser drawers and so forth. It used to stress me out when I noticed stuff was out of order. 27 years and 5 kids later, not so much. It's just that I was taught that old axiom "a place for everything and everything in its place" and I took that to heart. I never have to look for things because I know where they are for the most part.

One of the things I've learned to appreciate and love about my wife is she is an organizer. She makes our home a wonderful place to live and I look forward to coming home to our physical surroundings that make for a warm and inviting place. Early on in our marriage, living in a small old farmhouse, or living in a townhouse, she was constantly looking at how we could use the space better. I would come home and she'd announce she wanted to rearrange the furniture. Me being the "stick in the mud" creature of habit I am would generally protest and say "oh sweetie, it's just fine as it is." The truth is I was being lazy because her desire to rearrange the furniture meant lots of heavy lifting for me! She would lovingly explain all of the marvelous benefits we'd enjoy by moving stuff around and through her “subtle persuasion” (okay “subtle” may not be the right word...) I would help her move everything sometimes up or down multiple levels. Yes it was a pain, and yes I was sore for days afterward; but boy did I learn my wife was right! After she got me to cooperate, I would invariably enjoy the space much more and it would help our family tremendously to function more comfortably. 

I tell you this story because Calvary's ad hoc vision team and site plan development teams have been hard at work praying about our current ministry needs and future ministry needs that we believe the Lord would have us to do. With much input from church council, ministry team leaders, and a trusted architect who has donated lots and lots of professional time to us, we've been examining how our facilities enhance and/or hinder our ministries. We've been diligently looking at how we can appropriately and fully utilize the property the Lord has given to us right in the heart of Bel Air and Harford County. We've been prayerfully asking God to provide the vision for what He wants Calvary to be in order to reach as many people with the Gospel as we can.

We believe God in His sovereignty placed us where we are and with that understanding, we realize we have roughly 5 acres on this campus that still has room for some growth, but our physical lot has limits on the numbers of parking spaces that we could have as well as the size and type of any buildings we would potentially build. This will also directly impact the size of worship attendance as well and that is okay because we need to be planting new churches in other areas to "make it hard to go to Hell from Harford County."

The good news is through some conceptual drawings from our architect, we've seen we do have room to grow here. Through a number of meetings, discussions and prayer, we believe there is a need for a multipurpose type building that would house a gym to accommodate the physical activities of children and youth ministry that could also be used for outreach events involving sports. The space could be used for meals and fellowship and to minister to our community as well. When we say multipurpose, that is the best word to describe it and we've had a few “dream sessions” on Saturday mornings with key leaders asking how such a space would be used. It was exciting and encouraging to see what God could do to expand His kingdom through this type of space.

However, we also recognize that buildings take time to build and money to be raised and unless you have a clearly defined purpose for any building, it doesn't solve all the issues the ministry might need to address. The vision team and site plan development team have also been faithfully looking at our current use of space and we think there are a number of things we could do to help us use the current space we have in more effective, efficient and more importantly impactful ways. Our current layout worked well in the past but is that still true?

For example, let's say a young couple with 3 children arrives to visit Calvary for the first time on Sunday. They have a child in kindergarten, one in 2nd grade and a 7th grade teen; they also want to go to a young married class. They arrive right on time at 9:45 for Bible Study and show up at the greeters’ desk on the main floor by accident. They got lucky and found a parking spot out front, yet they drove around the building 3 times before finding that spot. They have to go down stairs to the preschool department and check in child 1. Take the elevator up two levels to get kids 2 and 3 checked in, then to get to the young married class, they have to back down two levels to the fellowship hall and they are forced to open a curtain and step into a crowded room of adults sitting around a table with no extra seats and worse they interrupted the guy praying and everybody instinctively looks up at them! Talk about an intimidating 1st visit! By this time it is nearly 10:10 they are majorly uncomfortable and completely turned around having no idea how to get back to retrieve their children so they miss concentrating on the Bible Study. If you were this couple, how likely would you be to return with your family the following week?

Sadly, this scenario happens currently at Calvary with great regularity. The good news is that for the most part, our church family is a warm and friendly bunch and the love you show helps people overcome the barriers in place. But we need to remove barriers for people to help them come to Christ. I have shared a couple of times as part of my vision casting responsibilities the message from Mark 2 I called "A recipe for our future." That text from Mark tells of four friends who carried a paralyzed man to Jesus who was teaching in a house that was packed and they couldn't get in. These amazing friends of this poor guy had the right mindset: A “Whatever it takes to get him to Jesus” attitude and they removed barriers to get the man to Christ, even tearing a hole in the roof! Jesus met the man's most important need of being forgiven of his sin, and then Jesus healed his physical need.

The point is that we need to have that same attitude here and see the reality of the barriers we have that could be corrected; not just from building a building, but by simply rearranging where classes meet for example. I'm sharing this information with you now because it is important for all of us to embrace some needed changes that must be made with our current space. There may be some remodeling that needs to be done, Bible Study classrooms may need to move to other locations to help our flow, function and God-given mandate (purpose) to make disciples. The leadership teams working on all this don't have all the answers, but we're confident by summer and in preparation for fall, we'll have a clearer picture of what needs to change.

We’re applying the practical principle “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Some classes don't need to move at all and so we'll not move them. But if you're class is asked to move, please be cooperative and embrace the rearranging, knowing it has a well planned, thought out and prayed through purpose. We'll do our best to communicate and explain what is happening along the way. I know change can be difficult and reorganizing will involve some sweat equity, energy and significant financial resources. However like with our homes and families, rearranging, remodeling or even adding an addition at church can produce wonderful long term results as we keep our eyes on the God sized big picture of making disciples.

I need to run, sounds like I have a couch to move, from my little corner of the world to yours...

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church 

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