This is an update on the facilities conversation the congregation had on Sunday, December 13. Thank you for providing your feedback via email and for attending the discussion forum.
The discussions have been very fruitful. As we have reviewed the comments and feedback, the majority of your discernment has echoed the discernment of the Staff and Leadership Team (LT) that God is calling Riverside to stay in our current facility for the foreseeable future. There were some concerns about the long-term viability of staying in our current facility, Sunday crowding, and other constructive comments, but there has not been any strong movement of people that expressed a belief that God is calling Riverside to build a new building at this time.
Given the sense of unity we are hearing, we would like to finalize our decision together with a congregational vote at our All-Church meeting on Sunday, January 17. The motion that will be presented will read,
Based upon months of prayer and discernment, Riverside will commit to using our current facilities for the foreseeable future.
There were several key questions that came up during our conversations that we are sharing responses to below. If you have other questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
1. Why did the Staff/LT send out the results of their discernment before the congregational conversation?
This was a very challenging decision for the Staff/LT. We honestly believed that there could be some disagreement among the Staff/LT as we entered our congregational conversations and that we would simply present alternative viewpoints at the meeting. When we polled all of the Staff and LT’s discernment and began to learn that everyone had experienced the same things in their time with God over the past several months we were cautious with how to proceed. We had two options: 1) hold the congregational conversations, but not share that everyone on the Staff/LT was in agreement, OR 2) share that everyone on the Staff/LT agreed, but use the congregational conversations to ensure that no one was hearing something very different. Ultimately we decided that being honest and transparent upfront was more consistent with Riverside’s values so we explained that the Staff/LT already had unity. We also continued to emphasize that the final decision is not the Staff and LT’s, but all of Riverside together. This remains true and is embodied in our congregational vote on Sunday, January 17.
2. Is this a financial decision?
No. The LT and Staff have always believed that if Riverside was led by God to build a building that God would also provide the funds necessary for it to be done. Riverside always seeks to make all of our decisions from our values and mission and not based upon our finances first. The themes in our last communication represented why we felt led to stay in our current facility.
3. Is this a permanent decision or are we simply pressing the pause button?
For the past couple years we have been functioning in a “limbo” between not investing in our current facility and not having made a decision to build a new facility. This was intentional in order to be wise stewards of our resources as we were discerning our next steps with God, but continuing in this “in between place” is not healthy long-term. We believe it is vital now to move forward one way or the other and our discernment process has been designed to help us choose which way to go. The language the LT/Staff have used in their discernment is committing to our current facility for the “foreseeable future.” This would allow us to make improvements to our current facility to make it more conducive to our ministry needs now, but also acknowledges that we can never predict what future God may have for us. This does mean, though, that we would consider our facility discernment process complete at this time and would move forward in improving our current facility to reach its maximum potential.
4. What changes/alterations can we make to our present building?
We need your ideas, though we have some things that we have already begun to think about. We have considered changing our parking arrangement, creating a clear entrance and exit from the parking lot, asking leaders and others that are capable to intentionally park further from the building, expanding our facility, replacing the carpet, remodeling our bathrooms, updating the sound and lighting, rearranging the children’s space downstairs, painting the exterior, better utilizing the white house/garage, and so much more. Please share any ideas you have.
5. What is the vision/mission of Riverside?
During Riverside’s congregational conversation several tables discussed the role of Riverside’s facilities in Riverside’s vision and mission. Pastor Dan has decided to do a three week sermon series on God’s vision for the Church and the mission and strategy of Riverside beginning January 17. You can also read more about Riverside’s mission here.
6. What will Riverside do with the land we own on the corner of Klondike and Cumberland?
We have no immediate plans and will need to address this question in the future. Many believe it would be most prudent to address the question of what to do with the property after Klondike Road is transformed into four lanes. If you have thoughts about this decision, please share those with us.
7. We are new to Riverside. What has been Riverside’s process in making this decision?
One of the best ways to hear a full explanation of our discernment process is to listen to Pastor Dan’s four week sermon series, “Discerning God’s Will Together” in May, 2015. You can access the first sermon here. This series should be helpful in providing a biblical process for you to make major life decisions as well.
Here is a brief summary of our process.
2014 – Leadership Team and Staff evaluated lots of facility options and narrowed our viable options to 1) stay in our current facility, 2) build a new facility, or 3) purchase an existing facility. After an extensive search for existing facility options, none were found. Riverside also hired an architectural and engineering firm to design a potential new facility.
2015 – Potential new facility design plans were presented to the congregation at the January 2015 congregational meeting with discussion about that plan. In February 2015, a prayer guide was distributed to the entire congregation over multiple Sundays with instructions to pray. The congregation also had corporate prayer time at Riverside’s current building and on our vacant land. In May 2015, a facilities’ discernment tool was distributed to clarify the options we were praying about. Comments from the congregation were encouraged during each of these processes. In December we met for a congregational conversation about our options and again encouraged email feedback from those unable to attend.
Ultimately, we set out to be people of prayer and God’s Word, to gather all of the information about our various options that we could, to believe God that unity in Christ was possible, and to make a final decision based upon prayerful discernment.
Riverside Leadership Team and Staff