The Fixer Upper
By Kent Morris
Church expansion is a delicate balancing act between eliminating the known limitations of the present and predicting the unknown options of the future. For most congregations, the need to expand facilities is based on the forced compromises of current growth in order to meet the needs of a projected path. If expansion is undertaken and ministry fills the space, the leadership is seen as visionary and erudite stewards of the church. However, if the buildings go over budget and key members of the staff leave due to financial constraints, the church suffers significant setbacks. Still, the risks must be weighed and decisions made, for such are the requirements of leadership. To minimize risk and improve the return on investment, many churches have chosen to expand laterally or within a predefined footprint. For one church, this approach saved tremendous sums while making relocation unnecessary.
Stay Still and Move
Life Bible Church is a growing ministry based in an industrial park setting. Their original facility occupied a converted warehouse/office environment where much of the work had been completed by a previous congregation who moved elsewhere. While the building did not meet the vision of Malcolm and Amy Young, the pastors, it did provide a starting point for their ministry. As the church added people, the need for more worship space and education room became a source of concern. Life Bible could not develop families’ spiritually without more square footage so the search was on for a solution. Malcolm and Amy considered the impact of moving to one of the larger buildings within the industrial park, but they soon realized the best solution was literally next-door. A company had just closed down one suite over and their space became available. Thanks to a landlord with a heart for ministry, Life Bible was able to essentially “mirror-image” their facility and double their size overnight. As part of this expansion, the existing audio, video, and lighting (AVL) components would need to be relocated once the wall separating the two suites could be removed.
Save and Spend
Since the original installation, Life Bible had added Matt Mowery as its worship leader, and it became his task to oversee the AVL construction. Matt set about maximizing the available budget to achieve the most noticeable improvements. A JBL PRX612M powered flyable speaker was already in place as a center reinforcement device so Matt ordered another matching unit to cover the doubled front seating area. The church’s existing set of Crest LQ powered mains were now able to provide rear-fill to keep the overall level in the room under control. Matt also added a QSC K-Sub for some needed “punch” in the low-range to bridge the gap between the current 18” subs and the 12” JBL mains. For video improvement, he looked to a pair of Optoma’s TX-551 projectors as a way to deliver acceptable imagery at low cost. The existing wide-format screens were re-used, but the projectors, worn from several years of use, were placed on portable carts for classroom applications. The bulk of the project’s budget focused on wiring changes and improvements, with new cabling installed for the mixing console and Aviom personal monitoring system. As a safety precaution, the rigging was hired out to an ATM-trained rigger-meister whose expertise lets the church leadership rest assured the equipment is installed correctly and permanently.
6 Days … Really?
As with many church moves, the project was held to a six-day period between Sundays, so TOE (Time of Essence) planning was needed. The equipment had to be brought in ahead of implementation and tested prior to use. The cabling was rough-estimated and pre-cut and the lifts were brought on-site a day early just to be certain they would operate as planned. The project met a few challenges, but extra hands proved the remedy and the church was back online the following weekend.
For Life Bible Church, worship performance is supported by technology, sensitive to the needs of the congregation, but always tuned to God. The newly expanded facility has the leadership energized to reach more people in their community and present the gospel to them in an inviting and well-executed space.