God is blessing Central Ministries in an amazing way! In the last four years, the church has grown in weekend attendance of approximately 500 people to close to 1,000. Central Christian School (which meets on Central’s campus) is also at its all-time high enrollment with over 150 students (K thru 8th) attending the school in the fall. This growth has led to a few “good problems” like the need for space. So, after researching, praying and designing for the last two years, the leadership has a strategy for a master plan for the next several years. It is divided up into three different phases.
Phase 1: Construction of Gathering Place and the Student Wing. This building will have two stories. The first floor will have a gathering place with a welcome center, bistro, fireside room and restrooms. The gathering place will be about 4,000 square feet. Continuing on the first floor, there will be a new wing for children from birth up to Kindergarten. We will have restrooms in every classroom and the younger children will be able to worship in their own pre-K auditorium.
On the second floor, 1st grade through 6th grade rooms will be constructed and the elementary kids will be able to gather in their own Kid’s Central Auditorium for worship. The children’s ministry wing (1st and 2nd floor) will be about 20,000 square feet. During phase 1, both the first and second stories will be finished. In general, the 7th-12th graders will not be utilizing this new building, but will continue to meet in the Chapel area. Therefore, we will need to renovate the Chapel area and update certain equipment (some of which is 40 years old). Even though phase 1 is designed specifically for children’s ministry, Central Ministries greatly desires that this space be used throughout the week for various ministries like Central Christian School, The RiverDance Company, and other valuable organizations.
How much will phase one cost? Approximately 2.9 million dollars. This includes site work, construction of the building, architect fees, engineering fees, furnishings, and also renovation costs for the Chapel area.
Phase 2: Worship Center. If you attend Central Church, you know that we meet in a gym. Every single week, faithful people in our church setup and tear down over 450 chairs in our gym. We call this gym a family life center because it functions as more than just a gym. During the week, it is a dance studio for dancers, a basketball court for Upward practices and a place to play a great game of dodge ball during gym class. On the weekends, it is a worship center. And on these weekends, we are getting close to outgrowing our gym at our two services, which meet at 9:30 and 11. We started a Friday night service with the hope that it would draw some people out of our two Sunday services. It has done that. But we have continued to grow to such an extent that we need a larger area to meet in for our worship services.
During phase 2, the new worship center will be constructed and finished. The new worship center will be able to seat anywhere from 800-1,200 people. You might ask, “Why the wide range in seating capacity?” It is because phase 2 is still several years away and we are not sure where we will be at in our weekend attendance.
Phase 3: Addition to the Student Wing. This additional building will have two stories and the total square footage designed will be approximately 12,000. The primary use of this wing will be for the 7th-12th graders (Junior and Senior High Youth Ministries). We might also be at a point where we can host additional ministries with this added space. One of the philosophies of Central Ministries is to use as much of the church space for kingdom purposes as possible. Currently, most of our building is used seven days a week. We are thankful for that. We always want to be the kind of church that practices good stewardship with our facilities.
The leadership at Central Church realizes that our culture is changing. Our nation seems to be subtly changing the rules when it comes to religious institutions and therefore we are making all of these plans with the knowledge that we might need to change some of the designs in the future. But there is one thing that you can count on: Central Campus will always be a place where you will find ministry taking place in various forms.
Why are we doing this? You have seen some of the practical reasons. But here is the spiritual reason: “God’s greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:4). This is our “project verse.” It is the verse which will guide us into this building project. This building project is not about any one person’s greatness. Leaders come and leaders go. But God, as our leader, will always be guiding Central Church. And while we are here on this earth, it should be our ultimate goal to show the greatness of God to the entire earth. We should greatly desire to reach the world with God’s tremendous love for everyone. We believe that by building, we can make an even greater influence in the Fort Wayne area.
Central Church has been around for 40 years. Throughout the planning stages of this project, I have asked the people of this church, “What will Central Ministries look like in another 40 years?” You might be in heaven. Or maybe you will still be a part of this church. The leadership, with humble hearts, plans to build a facility that will still be used 40 years from now. It is Central Church’s desire that we make a godly footprint for generations to come so that those who come after us will be REACHED!