Well, the journey is beginning.
The relocation journey, that is. We voted last April to start the process of selling this facility, buying ground elsewhere, and building a new place. We now move forward with this. Reflect with me for just a few moments about the matter.
1. Is this really God's will? I don't know. I think it is, and I hope it is, but I can't say for sure. I'm not one
of those preachers who confidently pontificates about everything he wants to do that it is certainly what
God has planned. Nathan the prophet made that mistake in 2 Samuel 7. We will learn whether or not
we're on the right track as we go along. Our sovereign God in His providence will either move this
process along or shut it down completely. If we can't sell this property or if we can't find suitable land
somewhere else or if the money's just not there, then we'll have some indication from the Lord that we
better stop and rethink the whole thing. If, however, as we put one foot in front of the other in faith and
doors seem to open, that will be a strong signal that we should continue to proceed. With the affirmative
April vote we've simply been given authorization and a little more freedom and wiggle room to explore
our options. There's a principle embedded in Luke !4: 28-30 that has some relevance here.
2. Why are we considering this? Certainly our deteriorating facility has something to do with it, and the
fact that we're not going to be able to afford taking care of such a large, aging building much longer,
especially as our attendances and finances have declined. But the main vision and goal is to move to an
area where we'll be more in the middle of the population and will have the potential of attracting more
people so that we thrive and don't just survive. We are surrounded by people here but we find
ourselves at the non-growing far end of our city in more of a transitional community that is very hard
for us to reach. The aim here is not just to run away and escape but to better position ourselves for
a future of growth and spiritual harvest. Hundreds of churches across the nation have made similar
decisions. Congregations on this peninsula that have relocated(First Baptist, Ivy Memorial, Orcutt,
Liberty, etc.) have experienced significant turnarounds.
3. It's invigorating to dream of a newer, fresher, somewhat smaller facility with lots of windows letting in
the sunlight. All on one floor, without stairs and steps. A nice kitchen area. Well-lit classrooms.
Maybe it would be wise first to construct a large multi-purpose type room that would facilitate lots of
different activities like worship, concerts, dinners, sports, etc. with SS rooms along the sides. An
advantage to that would be that if we were unable for years to put up a second stage, we'd still have
an edifice that would accomodate a variety of functions. That's just my opinion, though. The
congregation will make that decision, and that's if we get that far. An energy-efficient facility would
really be nice!
4. Whether we ultimately go, or are here for years, or remain on this spot 'til Jesus comes, we're gonna
have to work hard. There's a lot to do either way. We desperately need to be winning people to
Christ and drawing them into our fellowship. We need to become stronger spiritually, too. Right now
neither our evangelism or our discipleship are what they should be. Remember that simply pulling up
stakes and moving to another part of town is no guarantee that we'll grow! And, as I was wisely
reminded the other night, we probably haven't prayed over this whole matter as often or as deeply as
we should have, either.
5. I am excited, though! This could be a wonderful, exhilarating adventure for our church in this
generation, much like the excitement and anticipation experienced by Riverside's founders and
builders in the 1940's. Let's stick together, in unity, as a family. We have the potential here for an
awesome fresh start. As Moses said to Hobab in Numbers 10, "Come with us. We're going
somwhere as God has promised. We'll do you good." Decide to be like Caleb, in Joshua 14, who,
though old. wanted one more great challenge for God, and wanted to leave a strong legacy of
courage and leadership for the next generation. If we're successful in this venture, we'll really be
doing it for those who come after us. After all, church is the people, not sentimental memories or a
picturesque plot of real estate.