Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Opportunity or Temptation?

Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Opportunity or Temptation?

Article excerpt


Their facility was just too small. Steady growth had them bursting at the seams. Finally, after years of searching, they thought that a suitable location finally had been found, a location that might garner enough support to win membership approval when it came time to vote. Capacity, turmoil, turnover, a bad economy, limited budget, and aged physical plant were all constraints that had held back Hope Community Church (HCC). But there were good reasons that its name was Hope. One was that its leadership core was made up of people who were of strong faith and strong will. Leadership believed that constraints were nothing more than speed bumps that could be overcome. Turmoil and turnover had already been overcome. The bad economy was subsiding and, at least regarding monthly operations, the church budget was no longer an issue. The final constraints, capacity and structural integrity of the church building continued to be problematic and underscored the need to relocate the church.

Sometimes, things are beyond repair or are no longer suitable for their intended purpose, but facing the need for change can be a difficult challenge. HCC's church sanctuary had some serious structural problems. So, for many years, a church building committee had been in search of a better facility or building site. More than once it was thought that a suitable "new" location or facility had been found, but each time a fatal flaw had been discovered. Finally, the church building committee had found what seemed to be an affordable acreage on which they could build. Now church members had to make the decision as to whether or not to buy the new site. Still, it was not without potential problems. But hopefully, church members would not consider any of them to be major when it came time for them to vote. Should the church membership vote yes on its opportunity to purchase the land for construction of a new church, or, vote no and continue to meet in the current facility, and once again ask its building committee to start over in its quest for a new building site?

The thought of moving to a new location touched emotions on both sides of the issue. One group of church members had strong personal attachments and memories that were inextricably tied to the old sanctuary. For many of these long term members who favored remodeling and making do with the current facility, moving was out of the question. The oldest active member of the church, and perhaps the church's most loved member, was a stoic advocate for remaining with the status quo as she had been married in the old sanctuary decades ago and had no desire to move. She had a strong following, and it was no secret that she was not excited about the possibility of the church relocating. In fact, her opinions were so well known that there was concern among the church leaders that moving to a new location could so offend her and other long term members that they might leave the church.

However, other members thought that remaining in the current facility was untenable. This group, that included much of church leadership, was more concerned with adequacy and stewardship than nostalgia. They openly expressed their opinions that it was past time to abandon tradition and move on. To them, throwing more money at the small, deteriorating church sanctuary seemed an unreasonable thing to do. Would remaining in the current facilities strangle church growth? The opinions of these two groups would heavily influence the upcoming membership vote as to whether or not to buy new property.

Bursting at the Seams

Serving a farm community of about 3,000 people in beautiful southern Colorado, particularly among young families, HCC had experienced steady growth, and church attendance had doubled over the past five years. During that same time period, tithes and offerings had grown from $185,000 to $250,000 annually. Now, often with more than 80 percent of its seats occupied, HCC's current facility was both literally and figuratively bursting at the seams. …

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