We were just about the pull the trigger.
The elders approved it. The plans were planned. The contractor had been contacted. I'd had a few walkthroughs with one of our deacons, one who is brilliant at coming up with solutions, ideas, and options that fit the confines of what we are able to feasibly do.
Our growing youth ministry had outgrown the basement space (or "youth dungeon" as it had been so nicknamed by some!) of our church building. After some dreaming, we envisioned a large meeting space where the entire group could meet, and 14 (that's one for each gender of each grade) small classrooms where we could break up into small groups.
But there really wasn't a feasible option. Even the massive renovation plan that we were a couple of weeks away from beginning was only going to provide about 11 classrooms.
Then the phone rang.
"Hello, I am interested in selling the wedding chapel located across the parking lot. Would you guys have any interest?"
The church made her an offer, and she took it. We were now the proud owners of...a wedding chapel. We just weren't exactly sure what to do with a wedding chapel.
"Would you have any interest in using it for the youth ministry?" asked one of our elders.
"Well, uh, sure. At least I'd love to take a look at it and see."
Laura and I walked across the street to the wedding chapel, unsure of what would be inside. Plus, we were about to pull the trigger on a pretty exciting renovation in the basement, even if it was only going to provide about 11 classrooms.
There was a small auditorium that could hold about 150 people, so there was our large meeting space, but wedding chapels aren't exactly known for having classrooms. Still, we used our imaginations as we walked through every nook and cranny of the twisty-turny, old building, and counted potential classroom spaces one at a time.
"Okay, so there's 1, 2, 3...4...5...if we put up a wall here, that's 6..."
Until finally, "...14."
14: the exact number of classroom that we needed. God's fingerprints seemed to be all over this ordeal.
When God Builds
On Wednesday, August 29, 2012 we shared the news of our new "home" with all the parents of the kids in the youth group, telling them the story of how God seemed to answer our prayers at just the right time. It was a special night--we talked about the true purpose of youth ministry, gave everyone little yellow flags, and proclaimed that this new building was going to be a place that we would flag for intentional grounding.
Every inch of the space has been designed with a spiritual purpose in mind, and hopefully you'll see that as you click through the photos. The building is just a building, but it is our prayer that it is a building where God is building something truly magnificent.
August 29, 2012: the night we flagged our new youth building for "intentional grounding."