On Sunday May 5th, the church gathered to pray and begin the process of hearing from God concerning the direction He has planned for the church to move forward with. Over the course of the winter and spring God has opened a few doors for the church to prayerfully consider. To be sure this brief article is a summary of what was presented so not all questions or comments will be addressed. The elders are planning on having more times to pray and talk together, which might include time with each bible study and small group.
Three options have presented themselves moving forward. The family meeting was a time for the elders to share the options and no decisions were made. The meeting began with prayer and an introduction by Pastor Joe. We are a family and as such we need time to process emotionally, rationally, prayerfully, and together.
All the options that will be presented are no where near finalized. I would say we aren’t even writing anything down in pencil. Currently we are on a white board drawing out dreams of what could be. So do not read the rest of this blog thinking any of these options are a “done deal.” Prayerfully consider what is best for the church and what God would want us to do. While some of the options will help us financially, the church’s money position is strong and stable. The church is not close to closing its doors, but we do need to think of steward God’s resources.
The whole point of sharing all of the following information is so that we can discern what God wants. All too often we read our desires into the options God provides. Instead I want adequate time for us to be still and hear the voice of God to know what He wants, and what He desires. This information is not being shared so we can decide what we want. This information is being shared so God can open and close doors. This information is so that we might follow Him.
Option 1: Rent Space
The Ferguson/Florissant School District has approached the church leadership with the desire to rent two floors of the “C” Building to house the alternative school. This program has sky rocketed graduation rates for the district and needs a new location with the redistricting getting ready to take affect. The reason that FBCF was approached was the good relationship we have with the district coupled with how we have housed schools before during emergency situations for the district.
The proposal is to have the school occupy the 1st and 3rd floor of the C Building during the week. That would require the church to relocate the office suite to the second floor and make the new entrance for all of our weekly groups door 10, which is the pantry door. The preschool area would be relocated to the current offices where it was previously located.
Our Sunday Bible Studies would be unaffected as the 3rd floor would be used for our adults. The school district would ensure that the spaces are set up for the church and then reset for what the school needs.
A benefit of this option is the increase in income for the church. Another benefit is the central location of the preschool for our young families to which all of them shouted “Amen!” at the Family meeting. This shift in space would ensure the staff interacted with all our outside groups giving us greater ability to know the volunteers and patrons of these outside groups.
Option 2: Sell the Building
There is the option for us to sell the building in the future as well. The leadership has been approached by a sister church that is potentially able to buy the building. Now as that shock sets in, I want to state a few facts to prayerfully consider. First, the space is 102,000 square feet in total size. It costs on average $1,100 a person to run the building for the year. That totals roughly 284,000 dollars a year. Second, stewardship for the elders and for our church is a biblical priority. How would God want His money and resources used? The option to move is a stewardship issue. Is it the best use of money, time, and energy to maintain this space? Finally, The church demographics show that 51% of our families live in Florissant, 23% live in Berkley/Ferguson, 13% are classified as St. Louis, 10% live west of 270, and 2% live in Maryland Heights/St. Ann. The vast majority of our people are not residents of Ferguson. These statistics are shared just to give a snap shot of the reach of our church.
The reality of real estate prices must also be stated. Currently the Methodist Church Building in down town Ferguson is on the market for $800,000. Their building is similar enough to our for this price to be a sobering reality. The 40 story AT&T building located downtown just sold for 8 million dollars. The building was appraised by the trustees through an outside firm. The first appraisal came back at 1.8 million for our building. After some back and forth with the appraiser the final appraisal came in at 2.2 million dollars. These are the numbers to pray through and keep in mind as you and I ask God for what He wants to do.
Option 3: Merge With a Church
Ironic as it seems, God has provided a church that is open to the idea of merging with us. It is a sister SBC church located in Florissant. I will not share the name of the church, but will tell you the building is much smaller, but how could it not be. There is green space at the church. It would accommodate the ministries we run as FBCF. The youth group would be good, and children’s ministry would continue its programs. There would be room for varying bible studies and lunches throughout the week and on Sundays.
First, this option is worth praying through because God has provided this option. Second, having a smaller building means less expense. The cost to run the church that I am referring to would cost around $140 dollars a person as opposed to the above figure of $1,100 a person. Third, it is located not far from our current location which would not interfere with our membership and the commutes to church. Fourth, the worship center is smaller, which would require two services from the beginning of a merger. This would mean offering similar worship services with the ability to have worship styles differ enough to allow varying heart strings to be touched through song. Finally, it would allow the church to be set up financially to be successful for generations to come.
The down side of this option would be the smaller space. All the outside groups we house would not be able to go with us, however some could. Another downside is leaving behind the place where memories have been made. Yet another downside is the renovation needs of the church building to be clean, up to code, and appealing to new visitors.
There are many other upsides that could be listed such as a fully funded budget. This would mean no more fundraising for needs like youth and children. But I think at this point we all get the point, there are pros and cons to all of the options.
What does God want from us? Where is he leading?
We don’t have to do any of the options. We can simply rent to the school. We can do all three options. This is why we have to pray. What does God want? What honors Him most?
Partnering with the school would be amazing. Selling the building to a sister church means we gain another church in North County to reach the hundreds of thousands of people living here. A new building would open new ministry opportunities.
All I know is that we need God to show us what to do, so will you join me and the elders in prayer?