At our All Church Gathering and Meeting on Sunday, January 18 we updated Riverside on our facilities work. For several years, we have been examining options and discerning together what role our facilities play in our mission and ministry together. (A summary of past discussions, including the slides from our January 18 gathering are at the bottom of the page)
This past year we hired Arkor Architects & Engineers to help us imagine what a new facility could look like and to help us assess how much it might cost. We have not made a decision to build, but this information is very helpful as we discern that possibility. Here is a quick summary of our primary considerations.
- Riverside is people. We are people gathered together in a common mission to follow Jesus, to share life in authentic community, and to transform the world. A facility is only a tool to accomplish this mission. Thus, we will discern whether to pursue a new facility based upon whether we believe a different facility would enhance our current ministry or detract from it.
- Riverside is committed to a discernment process that is prayerful, unifying, and healthy. Our first priority is not efficiency. We believe our unity in Christ and our process for discerning God’s will together is as important as anything else. We will keep moving forward, but will not rush as we seek a sense of congregational unity and call in God’s Spirit.
- Riverside is committed to being a witness of God’s story to our community. Thus, any new facility will intentionally serve our community and have their interests in mind. If we pursue a new facility we want it to be an asset to the surrounding neighborhoods. Arkor’s plan incorporates outdoor playgrounds, a pavilion, a gym, and several other components intended to serve our community. If we pursue new construction, we will also solicit feedback and ideas from our new neighbors.
- Riverside is committed to minimizing additional debt. We want to maintain a healthy financial position and ensure that debt payments do not interfere with our ministry and mission. In order to immediately begin preparing for whatever future decision we make, we will begin to put any additional income we receive beyond our budgeted expenses in our facilities savings account to be used for either paying down current facilities debt or to build a new facility.
Our goal is to make a decision in the Fall of this year. We plan to use the coming months to streamline our current design, explore other design options, consult denominational funding options, and to pray, pray and pray. Waiting until the Fall will also ensure that we do not make such a significant decision immediately before or during Pastor Dan’s sabbatical this summer.
More than anything else we need Riverside to pray. Below is a guide to aid you in your time with God.
“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” Is. 66:2b
. . . for an emptiness of our own wills, a holy indifference to our own opinions, so that we are able to hear God’s voice as to whether to continue to meet in our current facility or to pursue a new one. For a desire for nothing else but God’s will: “nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” * Pray as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Mt. 26:39).
. . . that we each would “delight ourselves in the Lord” above all else (Ps. 37:4). Likewise, ask God to make His ways, our ways . . . and His thoughts, our thoughts (Is. 55: 8, 9). Also, pray that the Lord would be our very lives (Dt. 30:20), and that in Him, we would live and move, and have our beings (Acts 17:28).
. . . for wisdom, God’s wisdom, not what this world would tell us is right or best, but God’s wisdom which is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” (James 3: 17). Furthermore, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps. 111:10a), so petition God for us to have a holy fear of the Lord, recognizing who we are and our need for Him and for the knowledge of His will.
. . . to know His voice (Jn. 10:3), to be still and listen to His voice (Dt. 30:20, Is. 55:2), and for His voice to be the loudest voice to which each of us would listen.
. . . for “our love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” (Phil. 1:9-11).
. . . for God “to fill us with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . .” (Col. 1: 9).
. . .that we would be one just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (Jn. 17:21). Ask that we would be “brought to complete unity to let the world know that [the Father] sent [Jesus] and loves us as His own Son,” (Jn. 21:23).
*Morris and Olsen in Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 187.