Here's a few questions about the building project you might be asking:
Our current lease expires in 1 year and 10 months for the Pontaluna Exit Site. With the potential for a change in ownership and higher rates, we believe it’s important for us to be proactive vs. reactive in finding a permanent home for the Pontaluna exit site. Our landlord has allowed us to grow into our space and rent. We explored adding on to our current space, but with build out cost and increased rent, it didn't seem to be a wise, fiscally responsible decision. We feel the time is now to set down roots for generations to come while expanding our impact and influence.
At our Northside site, there is an urgency to update the facility to give it some needed care, but more importantly, we want to "journey-ize" the building to reflect our vision. We have worked with a local builder to establish a Master Plan including things like additonal parking, a new auditorium and kids wing, air conditioning and building updates that will expand our impact and influence on the north side of Muskegon.
In the short-term, we hope to continue to take steps to live out the mission. We will continue to provide the same quality of Journey Kids, Teens, and Sunday services experiences. We will continue to grow our team to live out the mission to make an impact locally, regionally & globally. The building process is more of a long-term vision. In the near future and over the next phase of our church, it will mean better and more effective kids’ spaces at both of our locations; it will mean a distinctive Journey style and feel at both our locations; it will mean more effectively designed spaces that will enhance your Sunday morning experience; and it will mean having two sites that will provide stability for The Journey and the community as we plant deep roots in both locations.
Although the total cost of the ALL IN campaign is around $1.6 million, we have set our giving goal at $800,000 needed to accomplish the plans outlined in the ALL IN booklet. This will leave $800,000 that will be funded through a 20 year mortgage. If we raise beyond the $800,000 that will allow us to have a smaller mortgage. We currently pay over $5,000 per/month in rent at our Pontaluna exit site. The mortgage will be approximately the same monthly payment as our current rent.
Although $1.6 million does seem like a lot of money to most of us, The Journey now has around 600 people attending each weekend and over 1000 people who would call The Journey their home church. Together, we can accomplish this project! Our Lead Team has worked hard over the last year in preparation for this campaign and it is our desire to accomplish the goals of the ALL IN campaign in the most fiscally responsible way possible. For example, we have scaled the size of the Pontaluna Exit site back from its original drawings, we have conservatively based our numbers on our current giving levels and attendance, not on our anticipated growth (we have historically grown at a 10% rate per/year); we have also planned facilities that are not ornate or elaborate, but functional and effective. We have worked hard to create a “doable” plan that can propel our mission and impact forward.
10% of our initial cash gifts given will go directly to impact our Strategic Partners! We believe God is the blessor, who blesses us to be a blessing. We want to bless these Strategic Partners who are making a difference around the world, by “tithing” (10%) our first gifts. We are looking at not only supporting our church partners but expanding to a new partner for a bigger impact as part of this project.
Beyond that first 10%, we will be using those first dollars to purchase the needed land, pay the downpayment on our construction loan, and have some working capital for the beginning of projects and transition costs that come with a project of this size and scope.
75% of people in Muskegon County do not have a church home that they connect with on a consistent basis. We believe that everyone’s best life is found in relationships – with Jesus and with others moving in the same direction spiritually. Therefore, we want to always create more space so as many people as possible can experience “relationships, not religion”. We want to impact our community & reach more people in this next phase of our church but we also believe this will expand our impact by putting down roots to reach future generations.
By expanding our spaces, it will provide more opportunities and space for more people to come and take their next steps. As more people come, we can start more Network Teams that can impact more people in our community. We can have greater influence and impact with our teens and kids. We can give more to our Strategic Partners and the great work they do. We can do all this while putting down roots at both our locations for the future, and set us up to more effectively create Journey type experiences along US-31. Our mission isn't to own a building, it's to help people experience God and life change. But we believe that will be best accomplished through the goals set out in ALL IN.
As we consider coming together to expand our vision, we all need to respond. We’re looking for 100% participation because we all have a part to play and together we can make a bigger impact.
How do I Respond?
1) Reflect: Take time to consider your journey and how God has worked in your life. Reflect on your experience with God and how you have taken steps at The Journey. Think about your future, your kids, or your friends or family who don’t know God.
2) Pray: Ask God to work in and through your life. Ask Him to guide your response. Pray for guidance as you give, serve, invite and take steps with Him.
3) Join the team as we go ALL IN: Take a step to play your part in the mission. Take a step to live out the mission. Join a team at church. Volunteer to serve to experience God working in & through you. Give to the vision and take a step to live generously and invest in the future. Invite someone & bring them to church to explore God at The Journey.
Please do not. The Journey has a ministry-focused general budget that is 30% smaller than most churches our size. We squeeze every bit of ministry and impact out of the generous offerings that come in each month, and as such we depend on the faithfulness of The Journey family. The All In campaign giving is “over and above” normal giving, and over a 2-year period.
Through our partnership with Converge, their Cornerstone Fund will work with us to secure a loan. Every year Cornerstone is charged with loaning money to churches like ours at rates that compete or beat the bank's rates. And because they work with churches and are tasked with partnering with churches, the process is much more simple than a traditional construction loan through a bank.
Like most anyone, the less debt we have the better. But, our Lead Team has determined that now is the appropriate time and that the amount we are seeking is the appropriate amount for the projects that lay in front of us. The loan that we are seeking for the project is based off of our current attendance and financial numbers, not projected growth numbers. We also are looking to take out a loan that will be approximately the same amount that we have been paying in rent for the last 7 years. It is a number that we feel confident that we can handle at our current giving levels. The loan would be a 20-year loan, and as God allows, we will look to pay off that debt as soon as we can.
Our desire is that everyone would participate in the ALL IN campaign because of what it will accomplish for our community and what it does in our own faith journeys when we trust God with our resources. BUT, we understand that in certain seasons not everyone has the financial margin to give “over and above” or “extra” funds. We have always been a place of grace and freedom. You have the freedom to say “not at this time” to any opportunity that we offer to you. You will still be accepted and we aren't judgmental. You will still have a church home with The Journey family and no one will be knocking on your door trying to compel you to give. This really is about what we want FOR our community and FOR you, not what we want FROM you.
Honestly, it’s hard to say. For the Pontaluna Exit site, once the land is purchased, there will be a period of due diligence where we will need to work with the city, township, and state officials. We need to work through a process of site approval, rezoning, and get all the approvals needed to move forward. We will then need to clear the land, and get on the builder’s schedule before we can begin the construction process. Construction never goes as fast as we want but we will continue to update everyone through the process. For the Northside site, it depends on what is raised through our initial gifts to the project and the builder's schedule. We would like to begin working on the first phase of parking, updating, and air conditioning as soon as we can.
We have narrowed down the land options to a handful of possibilities. We are doing all the necessary work to see about each locations viability, doing site and cost analysis , and working towards final conclusions on which location is best suited for our future. We are looking to be located as close as we can to our current location with easy access from US-31 and visibility for those who will drive by.
Can’t we just buy an existing building?
We have looked at many existing buildings as possibilities. We consistently ran into buildings that needed so much work, it wasn’t financially feasible to bring them up to current building codes. Another issue is that many buildings have plenty of square footage but not enough space for parking to reach city codes. Other buildings were land-locked and could limit us in the future, or the facilities were not in a location that we felt met our criteria for our permanent home.