Well, here we are… days away from our Extending Hope Celebration & offering (April 30, 2023).  For five years we have been anticipating the launching of the project, with this first part planned to launch this summer. Below are some thoughts I shared at a smaller gathering in this process, about WHY we are doing this project!.

 The Big “WHY?”

Now, a  renovation project is not as cool or compelling as a new construction project!  So, why are we doing it? I see 4 reasons:
1.     We value our neighbors
  • A big piece of this project is to enable us to add additional seating for people to join us in worship.  Going to theatre seating and reducing the size of the platform, enables us to immediately add 25% more seating capacity on a  Sunday morning!  We are making room for our neighbors
  • We are completely redoing our sound/lighting, and video systems.  Some have commented that the quality of sound is too loud in some parts of the room, too quiet in others (there is a deep diversity of sound level throughout the room). The room can feel like people with disabilities have not been effectively considered. We are adding more locations for wheel chairs and providing state of the art technology to aid people with hearing aides. The new sound system and drum enclosure enables a united level of sound, and were designed by a professional sound and video company that serves churches across America.  We are improving our worship experience to remove distractions to our neighbors  in encountering the living God.
  • The way you care for a facility indicates the value you place on what goes on there.   When a guest fills out a communication card, we follow up with a simple letter, asking for their response to a handful of questions.   “What did you notice first? What did you like best? What did you like least?”  A recent card answered the first question, “I noticed the stains on the pew where I sat”.     Another individual mentioned the rolling bumps in the carpet of the middle aisle.    We have irremovable stains throughout the lobby carpet.  Should it matter?  Maybe not. But, it gives a message to our guests. So,  we are welcoming our neighbors by a clean, attractive, welcoming facility.  
2.     We value worship
  • Obviously, the sound/lighting/video improvements are not only for our neighbors.  Being able to see the slides effectively, hearing the worship music and preaching with clarity,  having the drums blended with the other intruments, etc., matter to all of us.  We have never had an outside organization do assessments on all of that for us.  But, two different national outfits did that recently, attending our worship services.  They gave an overall comprehensive plan that we will be implementing.  It will impact everything we do on a Sunday morning, for the better!   As I look toward retirement, I would feel that I am leaving behind a run down, technologically behind facility for worship and ministry without these changes.   The Holy Spirit is the Source & Power for God centered worship.  But, poor technology, and a worship space uncared for, is a distraction and hindrance to the experience of Spirit prompted music and preaching.
3.     We value ministry
  • The lobby is our go-to space for our bigger ministries.  Along with being the gathering place on Sunday mornings, it is the center for ministries all week long;  Families in Focus (Sun night), Ladies ministries (Mon), Young Adults (Tue), Senior Adults (Wed), HYMN childrens ministries (Wed PM), MOPS (Thur), CR (Thur PM), Youth groups (Fri PM), Seminars/lunchoeons/receptions/conferences (Sat).  The flooring needs to be replaced, the sound and video need updating, and the Coffee Hub needs a permanent set up, in order for the lobby to support the many ministries that call it home.
4.     We value God
  • In the Old Testament, the tabernacle and, later the temple, were adorned with gold, precious gems, silk curtains and ornate tapestries.  Why?  In the New Testament era, the early church met in the temple.  At that time, the temple in Jerusalem was the largest, most resplendent house of worship in the world.  Why?
  • When the Israelites returned from being a deported nation in Babylon, their first priority was repairing the temple (535BC).  They had still worshipped in Babylon for 70 years.  But, it was disjunct and in small gatherings.  When they returned, they started remodeling the temple, but got distracted.    The prophet Haggai was sent by God to the Jewish leaders.  4“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your luxurious houses, while this house lies in ruins?”….. 5Consider your ways!…. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in an and that I may be glorified!  (Haggai 1:4-8)   The key motivation for this project is the desire to give pleasure to God and glorify Him.    God has lead us to have a building to use for corporate worship and ministries.  We want it to serve for years to come as a place where God is glorified and pleased.   This is His facility.  We want to care for it, and expand it as He leads and empowers.  Ultimately, this is about our desire to glorify God.  

Thank you to those who have already participated in the Extending Hope remodeling and renovation at FCC!  The following link will give you some info on the project.  https://fellowshipsj.churchcenter.com/registrations/events/1737059
This Sunday (April 30), we will be taking a special offering, and providing opportunity to bring our cards forward as individuals and families (if you have already given, we encourage you to bring forward a blank card, demonstrating your participation in the project). We are asking God for $500,000 to complete all that we hope to do.
If you would like to participate immediately, please go to https://fellowshipsj.churchcenter.com/giving/to/extending-hope-building-fund
I hope  you will join with us in this offering online or on April 30 as we seek to see this facility glorify God and be a gospel centered lighthouse for years to come!
Pastor Mark