Lebanon Campus Building Resource Guide
The mission of TJC is to show Jesus as incomparably glorious. That is what drives us. That is why we exist as a church. In everything we do, we want to lift Jesus up as Lord of all and over all. We want to call people to faith and allegiance to Him.
The vision of TJC is that by 2022, we are asking God for 3,000 baptized, self-feeding, disciple-making followers of Jesus who are letting the gospel shape every sphere of their lives. This vision is shaping how we think about our need to reach those not yet believers. It is helping guide us in ensuring that we are not simply preaching to them, but seeing them learn how to be full-fledged disciples.
As we have said before, this number is less about the number and more about the posture it forces us to be in as a church. We cannot grow inward focused but must continue looking outward to stay on the mission Jesus gave His church to “go” and be witnesses both here and to the ends of the earth.
Over the last 5 years, TJC has grown by leaps and bounds. About 5 years ago we were a church of about 450 people. And since that time, we have grown each year to the point where we have 1,300 people in regular attendance and many more who consider TJC their church home. We were at 2 services at 1 location. Then we added a 3rd service. Then we added a 4th and 5th service on Saturday night, to keep making room for those not yet reached. Last fall we began gathering a core group of people who would launch into MJ in January. We sent over 250 folks from Lebanon back to MJ to begin worship gatherings there. That being said, we are gathering at 6 services at 2 locations. WOW! Our long-term strategy is to have several campuses around this area that allows us to reach communities where God wants us to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. That goal is in motion, and we will continue pursuing that in the years to come.
As we were planning the launch of the MJ campus, the elders began working through what we were going to do help the Lebanon campus continue to have an impact for decades to come. We had the realization that the Lebanon campus needed to do something beyond band-aid solutions. What do I mean by that? I mean that there are only so many service times you can add before you hit the law of diminishing returns. We can add 3 Friday services, 2 Saturday services, and 16 Sunday services, but it is difficult to get large numbers of people to move to non-traditional service times. The general principle of “optimal seats at optimal times” holds true. Our largest service times are 9:30 am and 11 am. If those services have space, they grow.
Many of you may know that over a year ago, we were doing our homework on the possibility of building out a large kids space in the bay next door. As we did that prep work, we soon discovered that not only would the project range between $500K-$800K but that investing the money in that space would not actually allow for us to reach more people. It did not provide for us the ability to park more cars or add more adults to worship. So we did not believe that was the wisest investment of the dollars God has given us to steward for His mission.
So in October of 2018, the elders started a process of discovery of what solutions were available to us to help the Lebanon campus have a long-term impact in the community by being able to continue reaching people for many years to come. The city of Lebanon is projected to grow at a rate of 4% each year over the next 10 years. The population boom is coming to Lebanon, it’s happening. And we believe our church is primed to reach people, but we are not currently positioned to reach people. We don’t have room. The Lebanon campus is essentially at its max capacity as we are currently set up.
Here is the process the elders have been walking through since October:
- In October of 2018, we had two meetings with two different groups of people. These are people in our church who are leaders in the community, church and have wisdom in subjects of this nature. We presented our problem with them, just as we have just done with you. We asked for input on solutions without leading the group with our ideas or preferences. The consensus of that group was this: we need to relocate to a bigger building.
- We have approached our process by looking at 3 major criteria: location, cost, and timeframe. Each of those 3 needed to be thought about as we considered whether an option worked for us.
- We looked at warehouses in town. We spoke with a couple of churches. We looked at land and building options. We worked through a proposal of staying here and completely overhauling our current building.
- Warehouses: very few warehouses are available that meet our size requirement. We looked for places that could hold an 800-1100 seat worship space and all the accommodating kids/students space, and parking that would be needed. The ones that could possibly work fell outside our budget, or lacked parking options, and/or were not in the best location.
- Buying land and building: location was a factor in our search (the most affordable land is not usually ideally located). Preparing land to build on can be expensive. Building a building can be very expensive. Some of the folks who have build comparable buildings recently gave us price ranges of $6M-$7.5M, and that is just the building. We have also been told that if we pulled the trigger to do this option, it is likely a 2-3 year build process.
- Staying put and renovating: We have looked at flipping the building (building a worship space at the other end of the building and building out two stories of kids/student space on this end) and discovered it would work. It would meet the space size we need. This option would still lack parking. We could buy several of the properties behind us and make that parking, but that becomes expensive and we do not want to relocate our neighbors. We also met with Cumberland about a possible scenario of them using our building during the week (for classes and other events) and – in exchange – they would pave the soccer field across the street into a parking lot. We discussed the potential of a 10 year agreement that would guarantee it wouldn’t just change after a few years. However, a few factors have made that not our primary option: 1. no control over long term parking (new President may not want to partner with us), 2. cost (conservatively $5M to renovate the building), 3. financial position afterwards (building is worth $2M, we invest $5M to renovate, but it only makes the building worth $3.5M), 4. we would have to go somewhere else to worship for 6-12 months while we renovated.
- Other Churches: we spoke with 2 churches in town that have buildings large enough to accommodate our needs and located in places we would like to be. The one church’s pastor was open to it, but he did not believe his congregation was in a place where they would be open to it. The other church is interested and we have been in conversations with them. That is where we come up to speed on where we are as of right now.
- The church we are in talks with, and that we are pursuing as our primary option for meeting our needs is West Hills Baptist Church, just down the street about a mile from here.
- October: Erik and Will (pastor of West Hills) had lunch together. Erik asked about their situation and let them know we would love to talk with them about their building if they had any interest in the conversation. Will said he would tell some of his leaders about it.
- November: West Hills reaches out several weeks after our lunch to see if we are still interested. The elders go tour the building to see if it meets our needs and could work for us.
- December: talks slow, West Hills expresses a desired price range of $6-$7M. We let them know we wouldn’t be able to purchase for that price and that we would continue exploring our options.
- March: Erik reaches out to Will one final time before moving full-fledged into other options. They agree to have an official meeting with our leaders and their leaders. The initial meeting takes place and mutual interest (including an agreeable price range is discussed) is confirmed. We talked through several options (merger, two churches share a building, or we buy the building). Buying the building emerges as the primary discussion point. The price loosely agreed on is $4.5M.
- After the meeting, we realized there were several things we needed to do before a deal could be finalized. 1. A professional architect and engineer firm needed to tell us what repairs would be needed and what renovations we would need to make in order to make the building TJC and not West Hills. We needed to do this so we could find what number it would cost us to do the things we needed to do. 2. We would need to sell our building. 3. We would need to secure financing.
- We went back to the leadership of West Hills and told them that we could not invest the money into the research process without knowing their church would even vote to approve that number. We could do all that work and have them vote no. So we sent them an official letter of intent that had the price and our contingencies listed. Their leadership took it to their church last week in a business meeting and voted. They voted yes. That happened last Sunday evening. That is why we were then finally able to send something out on Tuesday to call this meeting tonight. We did not want to share this info before the church voted on it because if we did, and then they voted no, it wouldn’t be fair to them. We also wanted to give their leadership the opportunity to take it to their church before it became public knowledge. This church had a situation several years ago where they were in some conversations with a church in town about their building and merger situation, and the whole thing was handled poorly and this church was burned by it. So handling this with the utmost care was essential.
- Today: The deal is not finalized. Their “yes” vote simply gives their leadership permission to now negotiate and finalize an agreement with us once we do all of our homework to determine what it will cost us and if we get a buyer for our building.
- How long before it’s a done deal? We don’t know. We are getting the info we need about what repairs are needed over there and what renovations we need to do would be. We will get costs associated with that. The soonest a finalized deal would come about is likely around June, but it could be shorter or longer than that. It just depends on how long getting the drawings back, securing finances, and finding a buyer takes.
- Do we have interested buyers for our building? Yes. We have 3 different organizations that have expressed a desire to meet with our elders to discuss buying our building.
- Do we know what our building can sell for? We have an idea. But we are working with a commercial real estate agent in our church who is helping us get an idea for a sales price. We owe $1.1M on our building and the sale of our building could be anywhere between $2M-$2.5M or possibly more. So we are in a great situation.
- What renovations need to be done? We need to make the building more like TJC. Our priorities will be the creation and buildout of a fantastic kids (including Katie’s Corner) and students area. We will renovate the worship space. We will designate some office space. And we will take off the steeple.
- Where would we go while we renovate? It depends on who we sell our building to. If we sell to another church, we may have to move out immediately and live in West Hills while we renovate. Or we could meet in a school for several months while we renovate. If we sell to another organization (like across the street), we may be able to negotiate a deal to rent from them until we finish renovating and be able to stay put.
- Where will we get the money to renovate? We will begin a two-year initiative in the fall that will call the church to a financial commitment of generous, sacrificial giving that will position the church to not only meet the needs of the building, but continue to press us forward in our initiatives to start Recovery and Jail ministries, take the gospel around the world, and more.
- What will this mean for the MJ campus? It means the MJ Campus will lock arms with the Lebanon Campus to help make this building a reality. But it won’t change our mission to reach the community in MJ through our campus there. In fact, we anticipate that the MJ Campus will have a similar meeting in the future about moving into a permanent facility. This move for Lebanon is simply a part of our strategy for each campus to have a ministry space to keep reaching people and making disciples. The MJ Campus will help make this a possibility for Lebanon. And Lebanon will help make this a possibility for MJ in the near future. That is the beauty of being one church in multiple locations. We support each other. We are thrilled about what is happening at MJ. In three months, 6 people have taken the step to be baptized at the Mt. Juliet campus. That’s extraordinary! We felt called to reach the city of Mt. Juliet, and we still feel called to make disciples in the city of Mt. Juliet.