1×1 Initiative #3–Yes a Church Without Walls Can Build Buildings!

Apr 28th 2014

In the last 20 years Calvary has quintupled (is that a word?) in size. We had ~1800 in all our gatherings on Easter.  All of that has happened while owning nothing more than a 15,000 square foot facility! We have lived out the vision that a church is more than a building. In fact, I’ve never been crazy about building buildings…more passionate about building people and investing in cities. But I’ll never forget an aha moment I experienced in Texas while listening to a pastor talk about their 100,000 ft addition. Yep they do everything big in Texas! They called this addition the Town Square and it was more for their community than it was for them.  

That’s when it hit me, “A Church without walls builds facilities for the community.” That has been our top driving priority. While our priority hasn’t been and isn’t now to build buildings. Facilities are tools that God can use to transform people and we believe it’s time to invest in a new facility…just like our spiritual pioneers did 50 years ago. When I think of the lives that have been transformed at 1250 University Drive over the decades, I do get a bit excited to think about what God might do in the next 50 years.

One of the questions that came up at our Q&A on Sunday night was, “Why build first at Harvest Fields?” Below is a Top 10 list of sorts…

10. Beautiful Property: If you have been there you know what I mean. We want people to use this property and we believe more will use it if there is a facility.

9. Donor Integrity: At Calvary we have always done our best to honor donor intent. In 2005 $2.7 million was pledged to develop a facility and the property at Harvest Fields. Over the course of the next 4-5 years those dollars were given to Calvary by people to develop the Harvest Fields property. Without going back to those donors to get permission, we feel the need to honor those gifts by continuing in that direction.

8. Sewer: Having gained permission to connect to city sewer, we now have 5 years to build or loose that access. If we don’t build now, we may not get sewer service again.

7. Expanding Our Reach Along the 322 Corridor: We are aiming for three solid sites along the 322 corridor. We don’t currently have a site on the Harvest Fields end.

6. An Opportunity to help the CityChurch: With a solid relationship developing between Calvary and the State Theater, and the development of Harvest Fields, if this initiative goes well 1250 University Drive can be used to solidify 2-3 other smaller citychurch congregations.

5. Few Churches on the Harvest Fields Side of the Region: There are only two churches in Harris Township (last time a church was built in Harris Township was near the time of the Civil War)!  There are few churches stretching around Mt. Nittany to the mall.

4. Good Favor with Township Leaders: We have developed good favor with township leaders and we don’t want to lose that.

3. Harvest Fields History: A great deal of  work has gone into developing this site. Work on this project has been ongoing since 2005, well before we went multi-site. To set this project aside now would be to set aside thousands of hours of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, Harris Township and other local officials have gone to lengths to support us in the sewer wars, not building would be difficult to explain to them.

2. First Step Not the Last Step: A successful initiative will allow us to move more quickly to other facility needs. As we build facilities, we are building them as a unified movement. The support of the whole movement in this initiative will lead more quickly to the next development opportunity.

1. Trusting and Following God: The leadership team (made up of people from a variety of our gatherings) looked at all that has transpired over the course of the years and felt that God is leading us to develop the property at Harvest Fields.  In addition to the reasons listed above we considered that…

  • For more than a decade, every time we have gathered leaders together to pray and ponder what God is doing with Harvest Fields, we have walked away believing we were to develop the land. This started in 1997 when Steve and Kay Heinz gathered a group of Calvary leaders and shared their vision of God using this property.
  • In 2003 (the Harvest Fields Board) considered selling the property. We put it on the market, but at some point the board spent an evening in prayer and decided that God did not want us to sell the land. We received a multi-million dollar offer the next day and it cost us to say no, but we felt confident in saying no, because of that sense of God’s leading. Without that prayer-time the property would have been sold.
  • In April of 2005 we started a capital campaign for new facilities. While our campaign consultant encouraged us to aim for a goal of 1 million. We believed God for more and pledges to the campaign exceeded all expectations at 2.7 million.
  • On May 15, 2005 a vote was taken to approve Harvest Fields as the site of a new facility passed with 99% of the vote and a year later Calvary purchased the property with a 100% vote to purchase.
  • From 2006 to 2010, as difficulties with access, sewer and the design of the building arose, we called people to pray at many different points. In March, 2009, we gathered leaders to a time of fasting, prayer, and seeking God for future of Harvest Fields. It was a significant time of meeting with God, and again we came away with a renewed commitment to developing “Harvest Fields” for the community.

If you add up all those reasons…it still doesn’t take away our need for faith. But then again that’s what we are seeking… opportunities to grow in faith and generosity.