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Category Archives: Case Study-

A Praying Police Officer and A Declining Church

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 – KJV)

Police-CopSean was a law enforcement officer in Clovis New Mexico for 8 ½ years. Central Christian Church in Clovis was for many years the largest Christian Church in the State of New Mexico. However, even with its great buildings and dedication to spreading the Gospel, it declined to become a congregation of less than 50, mostly elderly members.

Over the years some of Sean’s patrols were during the lonely hours of midnight to 4:00 am. Occasionally he would find himself sitting in his patrol car in the large parking lot of Central Christian Church. Through his connections in the community, Sean became aware that Central Christian was a declining church, so he began praying (as he sat in his patrol car) that God would do something special in that place “for His glory!”

Little did Sean know at that time that God was going to lay the burden on his heart to meet with the leaders of Central Christian and propose a building sharing arrangement between Central Christian and the young church he was attending – but that’s exactly what happened. The result was an agreement between the two churches which resulted in the complete refurbishing of Central’s building.

There is new carpet in the sanctuary and new chairs have replaced the old pews. There is a new sound and lighting system. New air conditioning and heating units serve the sanctuary. And, even that parking lot where Sean prayed in his police car, in the dark of the night, has been refinished.

For more than a year the small group of faithful Central Christians met in the sanctuary at 9:00 am for their traditional worship service. Then, at 10:30 that same sanctuary was filled with more than 400 enthusiastic young adults and families praising God in their more contemporary fashion.

Then recently, the “young” church approached the older Central members with an offer to purchase the building, including an agreement to remodel the “fireside chapel” so Central would have a comfortable and beautiful place to continue worshipping each Lord’s-day.  And, the sale price was sufficiently generous to allow Central to establish a Church Planting Fund to assist in starting new Christian Churches in New Mexico for years to come.

Kairos Legacy Partners was pleased to assist in this Win-Win Kingdom story. Several years ago Central put its property in Trust with Kairos to protect the property and its value for future Kingdom benefit. When this “young” church approached Central, these mutually beneficial arrangements could be made without fear of any “takeover” or mishandling of assets – because the property was safely “in-trust.”

Today, there is a vibrant, thriving, dynamic congregation worshiping in the Central building. There is a blessed group of “older” Central Christians worshiping each Sunday in the fireside chapel. There are funds available for new church planting in New Mexico, and a gift was made by Central to the Kairos Benevolence Fund for use in meeting health and/or financial crises faced by aging Christian Church ministers and missionaries.

Yes, God had a plan for a police officer, a declining church, and His Kingdom – and God has a plan for your church too!

If your church is struggling and perhaps in doubt about its future, please contact us.

Kairos Legacy Partners is the voice of legacy serving Christ’s Kingdom by safeguarding church properties, re-deploying declining church assets, and empowering benevolence for faithful Kingdom servants.

New Hope CC

Pastor John Hannum tells the Legacy story of New Hope Christian Church, Anderson Indiana and how Kairos Legacy Partners guided his church through celebrating their life-cycle and ultimately gifting their church assets for future use in Kingdom ministries.

Lifepointe Church

Background
In 2004, Capital City Christian Church shared its building to help launch Lifepointe Church 15 miles away. In 2011 Capital City became Lifepointe West.

The Capital City congregation had shrunk from 250 to 125 since the late 90s. By 2010 the elders knew major change was needed, and simply hiring a new pastor was not the solution. “We had just celebrated our 50th anniversary and we were positioned in a fast-growing community,” says former Capital City elder Tom Price. “There was no excuse for the church not to grow and do something substantial. We discussed the need for extreme culture change and began considering options.”

Turning Point
The minister ending his employment at Capital City knew Donnie Williams, lead pastor at Lifepointe, and suggested the elders talk to him. The team contacted Williams in November 2010.

“I thought we were just talking about how to find a church planting pastor,” Williams says. “One of the elders at Capital City remarked, ‘Why don’t we just give you the keys to the building and you do it?’ I thought they were joking, but we started talking and praying about it.”

The five elders from Capital City and the leadership team at LifePointe began meeting regularly to talk and pray. After a few months the elders were ready to present the idea to the Capital City congregation and ask for a vote. More than 80% voted in favor of becoming a Lifepointe campus.

Legacy
Lifepointe fast-tracked a total remodel of Capital City’s worship space, gutting and redoing it in six weeks and re-opening in May of 2011.

“I wanted six months between closing the church and reopening it as a Lifepointe campus, and they wanted a shorter time so people wouldn’t have to drive across town,” says Williams. “If I had it to do over again I would have waited longer than six weeks; there were some residual culture things we had to overcome.”

Price disagrees. “I’m not sure it should have been longer,” he says. “I’m not sure we could have learned more.”

This ability to honestly share opinions, and the prevailing spirit of partnership among both teams, is why the merge succeeded.

“In the meetings leading up the vote, the congregation was honest about their concerns and the leaders from both churches were honest in their responses,” Price says. “Some answers were not what the Capital City folks wanted to hear, but they knew they could trust the integrity of the answers and we could work through issues earlier.”

Lifepointe also named ,Mark Wohlschlaeger, an experienced campus pastor at the church’s second location, as campus pastor for the new site. Price says this made a “significant difference” in the congregation’s buy-in.

Williams attributes much of the success to the servant leadership of the Capital City team.

“These were genuine leaders who wanted the kingdom to grow and weren’t as concerned about the name of the church,” he says. “It was never about ‘taking over’ Capital City, but about their desire to be adopted and make a bigger difference in the community.”

Price admits the transition was difficult at times. “Intellectually I understood why we needed to change things, but we were used to making decisions,” he says. “We knew we needed to back off, refer people to the new leaders, and give them the benefit of the doubt. We tried our best to do that.”

Today the former Capital City members would say they’re Lifepointers. The campus runs 275-300 people each week and Lifepointe has since used the Capital City building as collateral to secure loans for future growth.

“It started as almost an afterthought,” Williams says, “and it’s become a blessing.”

North Druid Hills CC

Background
North Druid Hills Christian Church was a healthy church with a strong core when it launched in the late 50s/early 60s, and it grew to more than 450 members by the early 1970s. As the century wound down, however, North Druid Hills became another example of a church caught in changing demographics.

When the small community of young families in moderate homes began to change into a strip of condominiums and townhouses, a number of factors converged to keep the church from growing.

“Some of our folks, as they grew older, decided to buy larger homes on the outskirts of town and moved away,” says Pete Hoffman, who served as the last elder of North Druid Hills. “Most people living in the new homes being built had no kids and no interest in attending church. Between the older folks leaving and the younger folks not coming, we grew smaller and smaller.”

Turning Point
As the numbers gathering for worship dwindled, it also became impossible to pay for repairs and maintenance on the 50-year-old building.

“The roof over the sanctuary began to look like a swayback horse!” says Pete. “The trusses were coming apart and we didn’t have the money to fix it, so we boarded up access to the room completely and began meeting in the fellowship hall.”

The congregation soon decided it was not good stewardship for the 20 remaining members to continue using the building and paying the utilities.

Legacy
David Chapman, then on staff with Church Development Fund, had done a church growth analysis with North Druid Hills in 1997.

“In this process we talk about the price of growth, which is not just dollars and cents but also changes in worship and outreach,” Chapman says. “They did not want to make those changes, but they did want to steward the money well and use it for kingdom purposes.”

CDF eventually helped North Druid Hills sell their property to a local Jewish congregation (the first group to look at it!) and distribute a portion of the money to several newer Christian churches in the area. Members also donated all the furnishings to other churches.

“People had purchased those things with their tithes and offerings,” Pete says. “They belonged to the Lord and we wanted to honor that.”

A large portion of the proceeds from the sale went to the Church Planting Fund at CDF and is still being used today to provide start-up capital for new church plants.

Pete says the final group of North Druid Hills members is pleased that the money from the church and property is being used for the same purpose it always was—providing places to worship and spread the Gospel. And a handful of that group still gets together for lunch the first Thursday of every month to remember old times.

Church of Christ SLO

Background
Like many declining churches, the Church of Christ in San Luis Obispo was once a thriving, growing faith community. In the 1960s more than 300 people attended Sunday morning worship, and the church built a new building in the 1970s and operated a school for fifteen years.

However, conflict within the church led to declining numbers—so many pastors served the church over its life that it had a reputation as a “pastor mill” that chewed them up and spit them out. When Graham Paterson became the senior pastor in 2004, the congregation consisted of 21 members with an average age of 74.

Many of these older members claimed to want growth but also resisted Paterson’s attempts at change. By the time attendance had inched back up to 60 people, there were clear dividing lines between the older and younger members. Meanwhile, the congregation had also run out of money and was unable to pay Paterson or cover operating expenses.

Turning Point
As part of his doctoral studies in church growth, Paterson began hosting a small group in his home one evening each week. This new group attracted younger members including coaches, students and professors from nearby Cal Poly University. He was encouraged by their enthusiasm and wanted to work with them to launch something new. From his study of church growth strategies and recent movements like 3DM in England and the Synergy initiatives coming out of RiverTree Christian Church in Canton, OH, Paterson developed the vision for launching a new missional community with this core group.

Meanwhile, it became clear that the original church was unable to continue; for several years the members had paid the bills by selling portions of the property, but recent expenses to repair the parking lot and treat termite damage had drained the reserves. By July 2011 the church had run out of operating cash.

David Limiero, Stadia’s Associate Executive Director for Planter Care, talked with Graham, sent him information, and opened the door for a meeting in July 2011. A few months later the church voted to become a legacy church and give the property to Church Development Fund; weeks later the church property was under contract for sale. The Church of Christ held its final service on December 18, 2011.

Legacy
The church property sold for $1.5 million. CDF advanced $400,000 to Stadia for a new church plant in San Luis Obispo as well as general operating funds. In addition, the sale added $1.1 million to CDF’s Church Planting Fund. CDF donates the interest on this $11 million fund to Stadia and other church planting groups for new church plants across the country. The donation to this fund also increases CDF’s net assets, allowing the fund to grow 20:1 for each donated dollar and make more loans to Christian churches.

As Stadia explores options for a new church plant in SLO, Paterson is excited about the potential for his own new start. The community which originally began in his home officially “launched” as a new church on January 1 with a renewed focus on making disciples.

“The potential for a new plant to come from the original church assets and the existence of a new missional community is very exciting,” Paterson says. “This a wonderful legacy for those who sacrificially gave their time and money to this church over the years.”

Contact Kairosfor more information on Church Trusts, Legacy Churches, Ministry Assessments or the Kairos Benevolence Fund
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