1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples!
I know, I know, you’d much rather hear me ramble on and on about camp, or tacos, or some other insignificant thing that I somehow found significance in this week, but you shall be disappointed, as it’s time for some updates on this amazing land we’ve purchased!
First, just a little heads up on where we’ve been.
In 2019, we closed on the main portion of the land AND the smaller part occupied by Ms. Matthews in January and March respectively. We did quite a bit of cleanup and some small repairs to get it into usable order. We had a clean-up day and even hired (not really, he’s a volunteer; he works for hugs) Joe Simpkins (yup, that’s my dad) to be our maintenance director. He’s fixed TONS around the property and is been incredibly valuable for us.
In house #1, closest to the intersection, we put a couple of office space desks (all donated), shared some meetings and staff gatherings, and utilized some storage. However, we got a chance to move Thrive Day School in there last fall (they ran out of space and were ready to expand - big thanks to Steps-In-Motion dance studio for housing our ministry…AGAIN!), and they are now operating at 12 students! Thrive is a special education preschool in South Charlotte for children with autism, down syndrome, ADHD, and other learning disabilities or delays. It’s a school for exceptional children with specials needs. This school is designed to be a source of hope for underrepresented families in our community. Thrive Day School is a preschool for exceptional students. We specialize in teaching children with cognitive and genetic disabilities, anxiety, developmental delays, sensory processing disorders and friends on the Autism Spectrum. We are seeing lives changed already, and we are so glad Thrive is here! We can’t wait to see what God has in store in this ministry. If you haven’t yet, please check in with Laura Scott and Thrive!
In the building right behind House #1, there is a small outbuilding/shed that we attached a deck to with the help of amazing volunteers and the unstoppable T Cox. We’ve used that for the land blessing, movie nights, Easter egg hunt and more. It’s been great to have that as a platform to use the massive green space. Additionally, Joe installed a working bathroom in that “deck barn”. Lastly, we put lights on the deck and benches off onto the grass for people that want to enjoy the space in the evening. We’ve even put posts in and around a tree in the field (along with lights up in the tree) where hammocks can hang. It’s truly a beautiful space and a beginning to this fantastic ministry.
House #2 has become office space and rehearsal space for our Christ South mission. We’ve set up a conference room open space for us to work and spruced up the kitchen and lobby to be a great hang space. It’s housed lots of meetings and we’ve even got a great coffee station in the kitchen. And snacks… oh man, lots of snacks…
The building behind house #2 is the maintenance shed and is well used by our maintenance director and others doing projects on the land.
House #3 and building #3 are currently occupied by Ms. Matthews as she will be living there at least until March of 2021. We are very respectful of her space, and she is as sweet as they come!
We’re using the land as best we can, as we design how this whole thing is going to work.
Okay, what’s next? Great question!
It is important to remember why we purchased this land in the first place. What we felt called to do with this ministry was to figure out a way – in the midst of church numbers falling and church finances failing across the board (all denominations and non-denominations) in our country – to build a new model for how church can work by creating opportunities for sustainable community and sustainable revenue. There are lots of things to figure out when building a new model like this, but we are well on our way!
Last year, we were able to contract with Elizabeth Buckley to help us begin to dream about how to build this new paradigm. Her history and skill set have been in creating sustainable nonprofits and businesses using her gifts and MBA. She was once in a business incubator at MIT, taught on a master’s level in business and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. She helped us to understand how the vision could have flesh on bone. Along with Pastor Scott, we began working with some architects to help us see how a master plan might fit on the land. Unfortunately, the architect that we were working with left the firm mid-project so we were not able to produce as much for the congregation to see, as we had anticipated having some things available toward the end of last year. We, however, are in conversations with new architects and should have something to show you in April/May (maybe before).
It is a little too early still to be able to show exactly what is going to be on the land, how it’s going to work, and what parts of the paradigm will come to life when, but know that there are some very exciting things in the works! Imagine a site that is active every day of the week, with lots of ports of entry, providing ways to meet people that wouldn’t normally come to a church, while also creating a sustainable revenue stream that sustains the gathered church and surrounding community.
In the beginning stages of creating this new paradigm for church, we know we need to create space to intentionally meet people that would not find themselves coming to church, and for the purpose of finding funding that would not be available to a church, so we created an entity called the Old Dairy Farm. You may have heard about it, but now you know what that name represents. It is a vehicle through which this new paradigm can come to life. We have created a Board that will help design how the space will work.
The biggest question I get is, are we going to have a place to worship on the land? The quick answer is yes. Christ South will have a place to land, finally, to worship and gather! Now… what it looks like and where it sits on the land, and what all the building will be used for are still up in the air. But know that it’ll be amazing, and will be as full of love, life, grace and community as is our sweet little gym at Polo Ridge.
Lastly, we’ve been telling this story outside our walls, and people are on fire with the idea that we may be able to do church differently. They are excited about being partners, being active helpers, and many are even excited about how they can contribute to make it come to life. That’s a huge affirmation that we desperately needed to hear beyond our walls. We knew our church was excited, but we want the community to be excited as well … and they are!
You probably have more questions than I can answer here, but I am happy to share as much as I can personally with you. I’d love to take this opportunity to invite any emails or calls. I’d love to share this dream with you! We’ll be able to start bringing some more information, some initial drawings, and even some potential plans to you over the next months. Stay tuned … God is about to do something new, and it will come to life through YOU!
Lord, we pray continuously that we would be instruments of your work in the world. Ignite us with your holy fire that we may burn with passion for your gospel. You are doing something new. Help us to know how best to serve your mission, O Lord! We pray this in the name of your Son Jesus, our Savior.. Amen