From School Cafeteria to the Theater

Here's a rare success story involving a start-up church. Back in about 1999 I got a call from a lady who was the treasurer for a brand new start-up church in South San Diego County that needed insurance in order to rent a school for their Sunday services. I drove to her home and sat at the kitchen table to fill out the paperwork with her and her pastor. I probably did 20 of these a year and most of them never got beyond the struggling congregation stage where they started.
A year or so later she called again, this time to tell me that they had decided to lease some office space for the church staff because the church was growing and they couldn't run it out of her kitchen anymore. Something was going right down there.

Another two or three years passed and she called again. A multi-plex theater building in her city had come available and the church had grown so much they wanted to buy it. It had formerly housed eight theaters and was a very large building valued at more than $2 million dollars. They bought that building, gutted and rebuilt it for the use of their church and the people continued to come in droves. Another building came available next to the former theater, so they bought that. They brought in portable classrooms to handle the overflow. The church now had an attendance of more than 1,500.

About a year before I left the business I had my annual meeting with the pastor and the treasurer, and during the meeting I mentioned how proud I was of the success the church had achieved and how rare it was for a start-up to grow into a megachurch as they had done. He was so thrilled with my comments that he asked me to stay a few minutes longer and speak to the entire church staff at their scheduled staff meeting. I repeated my praise for the staff and could tell they genuinely appreciated the comments.

During my nine years I can only remember four churches that went from a start-up to owning their own church property. Most just struggled along or disappeared. If you're thinking of starting up a new church, it is possible to build it into something amazing, but the odds are against you. Maybe this story will be an encouragement.

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