Building firm foundations

by Bonnie Shaw on February 24, 2022 in Church Health

In 1855, the members of Anderson Baptist Church decided to build their church out of rock. It took more time and resources, but they were convinced it was worth the extra effort to build a solid church that would lay a firm foundation for the generations to come. Those early church-goers were right, and 166 years later, the chapel is still used weekly to preach the Word of God and to share Christ’s love.

In fact, the church built such a firm foundation that Anderson Baptist Church has outgrown the chapel and now uses the activities building to host their Sunday services. However, even that building is now too small to house their growing congregation. This past Easter, they held an outdoor service so everyone could attend.

“We have outgrown that old building, and we have moved into the building across the street, which is our activity building,” Pastor Kyle Childress explained. “And now we’re outgrowing that, so we’ve been looking to try to figure out the next step.”

So, in the spring of 2021, the church launched the “Future Foundations” campaign, determined to build something that would provide a firm foundation for ministry, just as their predecessors did in 1855. Childress and other church leaders met with Mark Todd, president of VisionBridge, an architectural consulting firm that works with churches and nonprofits.

A partnership for the future

The Texas Baptists Center for Church Health has contracted with VisionBridge Consulting, using their staff to respond to the church architecture needs of Texas Baptists churches, associations and institutions. Anderson Baptist Church is just one of the churches taking advantage of their work and partnership.

“Our goal is to protect our churches from overspending and wasting time on the front end and trying to get them the tools they need to make the best decisions,” Todd explained. “What’s great about what we’re able to do and what we’re doing with Texas Baptists is we can take a church from the planning stages all the way through moving into the building. We think that’s going to be a great advantage to our church families moving forward.”

VisionBridge worked with Anderson Baptist Church to make a plan for a new building for worship that has more seats to continue expanding their church. It will include a large atrium with a fellowship area, and the activities building they currently meet in will become a children’s ministry area. They paid special attention to ensuring that the building blended well with the existing campus and the historic rock chapel.

New space for expanding ministry

The chapel now has a Spanish-speaking service that meets on Sunday mornings, led by Anderson’s Associate Pastor, Jose Maldonado. The point of the project is not to do away with ministry in the old buildings, Childress emphasized, but to create space for even more ministry to happen.

Now that the plans have been made, Anderson Baptist Church has begun raising funds. Childress explained that it will not happen all at once, and they will probably complete the building in stages, beginning with the parking lots, moving the playground and other first steps.

“It may be a slow process for us, but at least we have a vision and a future plan,” he said.

Anderson Baptist Church’s mission is to be “real, relevant, and ready.” The goal is not to grow the congregation’s size of the church, he explained, it is the heart behind it that matters. Childress believes the plans to build a larger building will help them continue to be relevant and ready by making room for more people to continue worshiping at their church.

“We’re not trying to be a big church at all, we’re trying to be a church where people love on each other and serve together and be real. Just people doing life together,” he said.

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