Most people will tell you that getting ill never comes at a good time. No one gets the luxury of scheduling their cancer or broken bone or disease. I have talked to many people who were in car wrecks and none of them work up that morning and planned the event. It just happens, often in the moments of time that could least use a boost of complexity. This is what life does to those who live it. This was true with myself.
The leadership at State Street has been aware of our space issues for quite some time. Last week we had a Sunday attendance of almost 350 including over 100 children, had a weekly meal for almost 100 on Monday, and fed 300-400 people during our food pantry. There are different groups that use our building during the week, some affiliated with State Street, some not. We make it work with only 6,600 square feet. But, it's not always easy.
When we made the decision to start exploring building additions I had mixed emotions. The logical part of me knows that we need more space to further the simple mission of loving God, loving others, and loving well. However, I also know that we are a young church with limited offerings, many families that are struggling to make their monthly budget, and a ton of kids... who tend to be what we call in the business world "cash poor." ;-)
Some friends of mine have mistakenly thought that State Street is sitting on a gold mine because of the amounts of money we invest back into the community. Though my 2003 Eggplant-colored Chrysler Sebring may say otherwise, we are not sitting on a gold mine. It's true that out of the pockets of the individuals and families at State Street we will invest $80,000+ just this year in helping the hungry. It's also true that we have a limited amount of staff, a smaller building, and are very careful about what we purchase all because we want to make sure that feeding the hungry happens. It's not that we have an extra $80,000 sitting around and we thought, "Why not spend that money on feeding the hungry?" We've had to be far more purposeful and intentional than that. We have to ask what we are willing to sacrifice that other churches and communities have to further this unique vision in the urban part of LaPorte. Our staff has to wear many hats because we aren't willing to sacrifice our investment into the broken and poor of LaPorte just for a large staff. We have volunteers working 20-40 hours per week at State Street for free because they rightly believe that our investment into the poor, widow, and orphan of LaPorte is just too important to sacrifice for other things.
All of these investments have gotten us to this point. Thanks be to Christ for His provision. And now it's time to continue on.
Today I am meeting with our architect to talk about the potential cost of our addition. This addition gets us more classroom space for our expanding children's ministry, more foyer space for a multipurpose room, more community center space for our social initiatives, and a coffee house space (more about this later). Though we don't know exactly how much the addition will cost, I do know that it will cost actual money and not just boyish good looks and charm. I checked. Apparently the economy collapses on only boyish good looks and charm. Who knew?
We will soon know more about what it will cost to take our next steps towards Christ in LaPorte. I'm a bit nervous and excited. Building campaigns aren't fun for me. I'm just not a natural salesman. Yet, I know that our infrastructure is not set up to continue to grow. I also know that this will cost us something. Let's not pretend that a substantial investment won't be needed. It's been my experience that great movements and events rarely happen on accident. It often takes a person or group of people who are righteously obstinate and unwilling to let the status quo rule the day. It takes a people that understand the importance of Christ's kingdom being manifested here on this earth in small yet beautiful ways. It takes you and I and our families and neighbors. But, things can change. The hunger and loneliness and homeless problem in LaPorte can be solved by a people who are willing to be stubborn enough in the face of adversity to say, "Death and darkness and hunger and poverty, you don't have the final word here!"
Now that my surgery is over and my auto-immune disorder is being managed, I am able to focus more attention on what we are doing at State Street. Thank you to all who have been patient with me over the last few months. We may have had a bit of lag in the schedule from being ill, but I promise our resolve is as strong as ever. It's time to move forward.