Building Momentum: How Grace’s vision meets the needs of a growing community
Rev. Daniel Eggold dreams of the day when Grace Lutheran Church, Lafayette, Ind., will reverberate with laughter and prayer all day. He dreams of children singing in chapel at 8 a.m., as part of the new preschool. He dreams of chattering adults discussing Bible study or partnering to care for the young children during the day. He dreams of school-age kids laughing, hollering and bouncing balls in the gym during after-school programs. He dreams of prayers offered in the evening during Christ-centered mental health counseling and worship opportunities.
“I dream of the day that from sun-up to sun-down, the Word of God is proclaimed and lived through the ministry at Grace,” Eggold said.
But Grace’s vision, “Inviting Community in Christ,” faces a challenge: a growing congregation in a tight space. The 433-member church used to host about 85 worshippers on a Sunday. Now, worship services reach closer to 200.
“We just don’t have the fellowship and youth spaces we need to facilitate hospitality and community,” said Warren Reneau, Grace’s building campaign director.
“We currently make people sign up for special fellowship events due to space limitations.”
The modest church property was planted in the outskirts of Lafayette when the population was much smaller. Housing developers built the suburbs right around them. Houses and schools on every side of the property offer parents a community in which they can raise their family. However, a growing community also increases ministry needs.
Church leaders sensed the opportunity to adjust their vision as the community grew around them. So, they reached out to LCEF’s Ministry Clarity program for help. The process revealed the church’s deepest desire to serve their neighbors—young families.
“They need help with childcare, mental health and a way to connect in relationships,” said Eggold. “But with limited church space, how can we love our neighbors well? We need more strategic space.”
Grace’s dream requires a larger, updated building that meets current codes. They worked with LCEF and developed a plan.
“We want to help grow the heart, mind, soul and strength of those at Grace and in our community. We want to love our neighbors as ourselves,” said Eggold.
The construction plan includes keeping their current sanctuary and rebuilding the rest of the church, including knocking down their original fellowship hall that served as their first worship space on the property.
“Ministry drives their building project, not the other way around,” shared Rev. Tom Eggebrecht, Vice President Ministry Solutions at LCEF. “Grace Lutheran wants their building to facilitate ministry, not create or limit ministry because of the building.”
A big dream requires a big faith building campaign. In May 2022, Grace Lutheran launched the “Impact” phase of their building campaign, Grace Upon Grace (John 1:16). They are highlighting how the new building will help make it possible to serve the church and local community by ministering to the “heart, mind, soul and strength” of people that share the space.
- For the “heart,” Grace foresees ministering to the emotional well-being of the community through counseling and adoption/fostering support. So they need
- For the “mind,” the church envisions an early-childhood program, after school services and seminars for the community. This requires a preschool area, classrooms and a gym.
- For the “soul,” Grace desires to invite the community into the life of the church through programming and events. Think fellowship space and an
- For the “strength,” Grace Lutheran envisions providing health clinics and athletic programming, so they need a full-sized gym.
This additional space will provide multiple connecting points for the community to encounter the love of God and the hope of the Gospel. A few million dollars can possibly impact a whole generation of those who live and work in Grace’s community.
Maybe in a few years, Pastor Eggold will start his day listening to three-year-olds singing Bible songs in the sanctuary. Maybe a high schooler will come to know Christ through shooting hoops after school. Maybe someone on the brink of suicide will find hope through gospel-centered counseling. Maybe if this building campaign raises enough funds, Grace Lutheran will live out the vision of “Inviting Community in Christ.”
God has a plan. He will provide.