Plan For Growth Blog
By Shannon Caughey
The vote about whether to pursue establishing a second site in the Scott Park area is coming quickly—maybe a little too quickly for some! In fact, this question has been asked a few times: “Why are we moving so fast on this?” Others have expressed support for the second site concept but are unsure if this is the right time. They’d really like a “not yet” option added to the ballot.
A few thoughts on timing… No matter when we decided to vote on a potential second site (now, six months from now, a year from now), some of us will always feel like we’re moving too fast. Because our lives are full, we don’t tend to devote time to thinking and praying seriously about an issue until something compels us to do so—like a vote that’s just a few weeks away. Even though we’ve been discussing the idea of a second site for a year, scheduling a vote creates a heightened sense of urgency to consider this possibility if you hadn’t done much thinking and praying about it to this point. For some, this heightened sense of urgency can suddenly feel like we’re moving pretty fast.
Also, people process information and decisions at differing speeds. What seems like plenty of time for one person may feel like not enough time for another person. Again, this is inevitable no matter when the vote was scheduled to take place.
What’s most important in all of this is God’s timing. As we as leaders prayerfully considered God’s direction, we sensed it is the right time for a congregational decision about whether to pursue a potential second site. If the vote is “yes,” we would be enabled to move forward with intentionality, letting God determine the “how fast” aspect of establishing a second site. We may even find that he says “not yet” as we seek to take concrete steps. We’ll be trusting him to open or close doors.
We realize not every detail of a possible second site has been clarified. We know that unanswered questions remain. This will always be the case until we’re in the midst of the actual process, seeing where Jesus is working and listening for his guidance. We believe it’s the right time to determine whether God is calling us to pursue this Scott Park site process in faith.
By Shannon Caughey
“To reach people that no one is reaching, you have to do things that no one else is doing.” (Craig Groeschel)
From our research, it appears that the Scott Park area is largely not being reached by churches and ministries. I’m sure there are many reasons for this. Yet the fact remains: God loves these people and desires that they hear and see the gospel of Jesus Christ. Are we willing to do some things that no one else is currently doing in an effort to reach these people?
This also means we would need to do some things that we aren’t currently doing. TCBC is a healthy church in many ways, but let’s be honest: one of our weaknesses is evangelism. We believe God wants to change this. It probably won’t happen by merely tweaking a few things. It will likely require some significant steps—doing some things we aren’t currently doing.
Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23). To reach people that no one else was reaching, he was willing to do things that no one else was doing.
What steps might God be calling us as TCBC to take in order to reach more people?
By Shannon Caughey
As a church family, we’re having good discussions about a potential Scott Park site. Legitimate questions are being asked. I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which people are approaching this decision. We’re doing exactly what we need to be doing: exploring this openly and honestly, and seeking God’s direction together.
Some themes continue to emerge in the discussions. Concern is expressed about whether it’s wise to take on the financial cost of pursuing a second site. Should we not instead focus on meeting the financial obligations of maintaining what we’re already doing? Also, some are asking whether we might put our current site at a disadvantage if we send out key leaders and a substantial group of people to a Scott Park site.
As I’ve reflected on these concerns, here’s what’s been on my heart: the way of Jesus’ kingdom.
In Jesus’ kingdom, abundance comes out of sacrifice. We receive the most when we give our very best. Security comes not as a result of holding tightly to what we have but rather being joyfully willing to give generously. Fullness of life comes when we surrender it all.
We see this again and again in Jesus’ teaching:
- “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
- “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
- “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)
- “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
Paul, speaking about finances while giving a principle that applies more broadly, points to the way of Jesus’ kingdom:
- “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Cor. 9:6)
How then does this apply to our decisions about a potential second site? Could it be that if we were willing to give generously—even sacrificially—in an effort to reach people who don’t yet know Christ, we’d experience God’s provision in unexpected ways? Our natural inclination is to direct our financial and people resources inward when it feels like we’re facing scarcity. But the way of Jesus’ kingdom challenges us to do the exact opposite.
What are your thoughts on what it means to follow Jesus’ kingdom principles as we consider a Scott Park site?
By Shannon Caughey
The more we learn about the Scott Park area of our community/campus, the more excited we get. If you haven’t yet read Erika Nelson’s excellent article, “Scott Park: A Gold Mine on the Brink?” in TCBC’s most recent newsletter, I strongly encourage you to do so. Erika did some research on the Scott Park area and what she discovered is quite intriguing.
A few highlights to whet your appetite…
- The Scott Park area has grown by almost 30% since 2000
- The growth rate of the Scott Park area is 4x that of Champaign County in that time period
- Over 17,000 people live within a half mile radius of Scott Park
- There are currently only two churches within reasonable walking distance of the Scott Park area
- The Scott Park area is currently in the midst of a $12 million renovation as the city of Champaign seeks to make it an attractive section of town that will draw many people
A year ago, the “plan for growth” task force took an interest in the Scott Park area before any of this information was known. They were drawn to the Scott Park area because it seemed to fit TCBC’s ministry niche: a place where community and campus come together, a large population of students with walking distance, and evidence that it is home to a number of international students. Plus, they noticed the lack of many other churches in the area.
As we’ve continued to learn more, our excitement has grown. Undoubtedly, there are many challenges to establishing a second site in the Scott Park area. Even so, many of us cannot shake the notion that this may very well be a door for ministry that God is opening for TCBC.
By Shannon Caughey
I don’t like to fail. You don’t like to fail. All of us have probably encountered failure at some level—and there are definitely unpleasant aspects to that experience. Yet an aversion to failure can actually be a great hindrance in ministry.
When we have a fear of failure, we shy away from taking bold steps (it’s too risky). When we’re afraid to make mistakes, we never try anything new (staying where we are feels safest). Ironically, while we think we’re protecting ourselves from failure, we actually end up missing opportunities to be successful.
Consider Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. When he and the other disciples see Jesus walking on water, Peter gets excited about an opportunity. With Jesus’ permission, Peter also wants to try this water-walking thing (awfully risky). Jesus says, “Come,” and Peter gets out of the boat (leaving what’s safe). You know what happens next: Peter does well for awhile, but then he gets scared and starts to sink. Jesus grabs him and assures Peter that he can be trusted.
Did Peter fail? I suppose we could say he did. But what about all the others who never got out of the boat? Only Peter got a taste of walking on water. And he has a faith-deepening experience he would have missed had he refused to take a risk.
The only path to success—especially in what really matters—is a willingness to risk failure.
I confess that I have long struggled with a fear of failure. Through the plan for growth process, Jesus has been addressing this fear. People ask, “What if we attempt to start a second site and it fails?” Previously this question would have created anxiety in me. Now, by God’s grace, I have an increasing sense of peace about this risk. I believe we have to be willing to fail if we’re going to live out the kind of radical, stretching faith to which Jesus calls his followers.
What if an attempt to start a second site failed? Is that really failure? It’s very likely we would learn some things that would enable us to be more effective in the future. Undoubtedly our faith would grow through this experience of taking risks and seeking to depend upon God more fully. There’s a great chance our love for one another would deepen as we pursue this adventure together. In God’s economy, that sure doesn’t sound like “failure.”