March 24, 2019
Church Membership overwhelmingly approves moving forward to make room.
“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Dear Riverland Hills Family,
If I had to choose one word to describe Riverland Hills Baptist Church, I would choose “Faith.” Throughout our 50 year history we have repeatedly taken bold steps of faith to reach more people with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Each time we have stepped out, God has accomplished more than we could ever imagine!
Once again God is asking us to trust Him with the growth He has brought to our Modern Worship services. With over 64% growth in just 7 years and an average attendance nearing 1,000 people each Sunday in our gym, it’s time for us to join God where He is at work. Additionally, with church growth across our entire campus, we need space for more Sunday School rooms, gathering space, restrooms and a covered drop-off area.
After 8 months of prayer and consideration of possible solutions, we are ready to move forward with the expansion plan that God has made clear. Over the past two months the Strategic Growth Advisory Team has presented this proposal to all church committees, deacons and church leadership. Additionally, we have informed the church through a mailed brochure and in two Informational Forums.
We are now ready to take a step of unity toward the future. We will have a church-wide vote on Sunday, March 24, in all four morning worship services. Here is a sample ballot to prepare you for the vote. The actual ballots will be distributed on March 24. Thank you for being a church that always makes room for more! Hebrews 11:1 reminds us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Excited about the future,
Dr. Ryan Pack
Frequently Asked Questions
When did we start the modern worship service?
Prior to 2012, Riverland Hills offered a modern style of worship in various “non-prime” time slots (Sunday afternoons, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings) led by part time staff and unpaid volunteers. Those efforts produced some limited success. Seven years ago we decided to offer a modern style of worship on the Riverland Hills campus during the “prime” Sunday hours which many families prefer. As part of the Open Door capital campaign approximately $1 million was invested in the sound, video and seating systems needed to “simulcast” our pastor’s sermons into the gym. At that time, a new full-time modern worship minister, Josh Dry, was added to our church staff. Since then, our modern worship has become the fastest growing ministry at Riverland Hills; growing 64% from 2012 to 2018 and 35% over just the past two years.
Was the weekly conversion of the gym into a modern worship venue intended as a long-term solution?
No. The weekly conversion of the gym into a modern worship venue (and its subsequent break down back into a gym) was always intended to be a temporary solution. The idea was to come up with a long-term solution when, and if, the modern worship services grew to a point that justified it.
So why now?
Our fastest growing ministry is out of room and in temporary quarters. Attendance at the 10:15 modern worship service is consistently above 90% of the 620 seat capacity (and frequently near 100%) and the 11:30 modern service is fast approaching 80%. If we don’t make room, this ministry will soon stop growing.
Where will the new worship venue be built?
Although other options were considered as part of the architectural feasibility study, the new modern worship venue will be centrally located on campus in our mostly unused courtyard area. Over 5,000 square feet of additional indoor fellowshipping space is planned at the foot of the grand staircase.
How big will the new worship venue be?
Currently about 1,000 seats are being planned. This is consistent with recent modern worship trends which favor well-attended, more intimate worship venues as compared to larger sanctuaries. However, the seating capacity may change as more detailed programming and design studies are completed.
Are we going to build anything other than a new worship venue?
Yes. The feasibility study also anticipates the addition of restrooms, educational flex space and a two-lane covered drop-off.
How much will this cost?
Our architects estimate the cost will be $8.8 million. However, this estimate may change as detailed programming needs and design studies are completed and once contractor bids are taken.
How will this be paid for?
The church has more than $1.6 million of unrestricted funds on hand which can be allocated to the project. In addition, the church will conduct a capital campaign. Based on past experience, the church estimates that more than $4.5 million of capital campaign funds would be collected over the next 4 years.
Will the project involve additional debt?
Yes. The amounts of additional debt depend on the success of the capital campaign, contractor bids and the timing of outgoing and incoming cash flows. The amount of additional debt is estimated to be readily manageable for the church.
Won’t this delay the day when the church becomes debt free?
Yes. The church estimates that this project will delay the date we will become debt free by about 3 years; from late 2022 to late 2025.
How long will this project take?
The project is expected to take between 18 and 24 months to complete. The programming and architectural design work should take 4 to 6 months. The capital campaign, financing and contractor selection phase is estimated to take another 4 to 6 months. Construction is estimated to take 12 to 16 months. Some elements of these phases will overlap.
Given recent growth trends of the Modern Service, will 1,000 seats be big enough?
Currently, this is thought to be the right size for Riverland Hills. When this venue size is combined with longer term options of rearranging worship times and/or adding additional services, the modified campus would be able to support significant growth. However, additional analysis on the seating capacity of the proposed new worship venue will be conducted during the planning, programming and design phase.
Will there be sufficient space to accommodate the growth in Sunday School attendance, especially for children, which will go along with continued growth of the Modern Service?
Yes. The staff has looked at this issue and believes the additional educational/flex space included in the feasibility study will allow us to redistribute space to accomodate the expected growth in chldren’s, youth and adult Sunday School attendance. However, this may change as more detailed programming and design studies are completed.
Will we have sufficient parking to accommodate the expected growth in the Modern Service?
Yes. The staff has looked at this issue and the existing 1300 spaces should be sufficient.
Did the Strategic Growth Team consider adding additional services as an alternate way of making room for more growth?
Yes. But if we want to continue to offer two styles of worship on this campus over the long term, we need to build a second permanent worship venue rather than continuing to house our fastest growing ministry in a too-small, temporary space. Down the road, additional services may well fit into our plans for making room for still more growth.
Did the Strategic Growth Team consider a Multi-Site strategy as an alternate way of making room for growth?
Yes. This idea is very exciting and we believe this could well be part of what God has planned for us down the road. But starting a new service at another site does not address the ability of our current facilities to properly support two worship styles. We should get things right at our home campus before branching out into new locations.
Did the Strategic Growth Team consider conducting Traditional and Modern format worship services in the existing main sanctuary?
Yes. But the seating capacity of the current sanctuary would not comfortably accommodate the two traditional services or the two modern services combined into a single hour. And, under this approach there would be limited room for growth.
What are we being asked to approve?
At this stage, the membership is being asked to approve moving forward to develop a detailed plan to construct a new modern worship venue which would include proposed architectural designs, contractor bid(s), and construction loan commitments as may be appropriate to that plan. In addition, a 3-year Capital Campaign will be conducted. Once the detailed plans are developed, additional forums and a separate membership vote would be taken.
How much will the planning process cost?
Architectural and other related professional planning services are expected to cost about $750 thousand.
Strategic Growth Team
Ryan Pack, Pastor