Some Responses to Our Survey

With all the conversations going on about the recent decision of the Supreme Court and same-sex marriage, you might have forgotten that we are in the process of looking for a new location for LCC. Well, I haven’t, and I’ve been wanting to talk about it in this forum for a couple of days now, but other things have gotten in the way.
Anyway, by now, you probably know about our relocation discussions. LCC is thinking about purchasing a building that sits next to a strip club, and we are trying to get some feedback from people in our church and in the community at large as we try to make this decision. We asked for people to fill out a feedback form, and have received a large number of responses.
I’ve been reading through the comments as they come in, and some of them have been so encouraging to me or have made such good points that I feel compelled to share them with you. I’m not sharing all the comments, but I am sharing a representative selection. Here you go.

Overall Feedback

First of all, the general consensus is that the more committed people are to the church, the more likely they are in support of this move. I was really interested to see that develop. I was honestly thinking that every opinion would be evenly distributed among the different people in the church, but in fact, it wasn’t. Most of the people who are really committed to LCC are also really in favor of this move. Take a look at some of these comments:

It’s a much more established looking building than that of our current lease.
I think moving here is a great idea. Granted, I haven’t actually seen the place, but as far as moving next to a strip clip goes, I think it’s right where we need to be. If you look at who Jesus hung out with and the places he went, I don’t think we need to be worried too much about the location. I understand the fear of possible negative influences from our neighbors but I also know that Jesus has overcome everything. I know that in my life when I am tempted, my faith generally doubles because of fighting it.

I think if we as a church are in prayer about this move and are feeling lead by God then we need to do it regardless of location. If this is where He is putting us (and to me it appears He is) then He will protect us. God must have a reason for leading us to this place, we are trying to bring Gods word to everyone, right? Well, there are definitely people in that area that need to know Him. Maybe some have never really been around Christians or they have had negative experiences, we could show them God’s love and accepting grace.

Or this one was especially encouraging:

Having a place to go that would be ours is part of the mission as I understand it. This would be that place, the fact that it is next to an adult shop only encourages me. We are to be witnesses to this world and part of that is being present. Our kids are going to see these shops as we drive by, the difference is this presents a learning experience and a great opportunity to teach our children about “random” praying, just praying for the people who are there.
This would not affect my feeling about inviting people in a negative way but more of a positive. I would use the place as a reference. “We are the church next to the adult shop, we are at the front line of changing Lafayette!”
I feel like the leadership should pray about it. If they are all in agreement, then God has spoke through them and we as the congragation should follow. If however, even one person in leadership is having issues, then more time in prayer. I believe that God will move the church by moving the leaders first, therefore if they say go, we go.

At the same time, there are others who are also committed to the church who don’t think it’s a good idea.

I am not concerned about the Sunday mornings. I’m concerned about evening meetings, specifically youth group.
I am also concerned about parking. What will happen if the church grows, which I expect it will? Where will people park? Also, the situation may cause many parents to have to answer uncomfortable questions. The church may not grow as much as it would if we had a more traditional location. Also, if we outgrew the location, it would be difficult to resell. We may even lose money. There may also be a vandalism issue at that location. I hope we don’t lose money by declining this building.

Then, there are some others who did not express a strong commitment to the church, but they raise good points. One insightful and vulnerable comment was this one:

I’ve been considering whether to say something about this. I’m not a regular attendee of LCC, but my family and I occasionally visit, and since you specifically solicited the input of people in this demographic, here you go.
So you know, I have frequented adult bookstores. It’s an extremely regrettable and unfortunate fact of my past, my distant past. But with the help of God and nearly a decade of professional therapy, I have overcome nearly all of the dysfunction in my life that led me to looking to places such as this and found forgiveness and new life in Him! So while I’ve never been to this store, lets just say I’ve visited enough of these establishments and had friends visit them as well. Also, I have never been to a strip club, so my insight, take it for what it’s worth, is only about adult bookstores.
… Plain and simple, I don’t know if I could ever attend a church in such proximity to a porn shop or strip club, I’d have to undertake a serious amount of prayer on the topic, and even if I decided I could go, I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable having my family attend with me.
However, a church there could meet the needs of others like myself. I must admit I find myself strangely intrigued by the very notion of putting a church there. I can see why it’s not an easy decision for you.

Assessing the Feedback

What’s interesting to me is that all the comments taken together address three main issues:

  1. The Mission
  2. Family Security
  3. Present day temptation or the reminder of past pain.

Most of the people who speak about the mission see this move as a good thing because it will put the church visibly into a part of the city where lost people are. From a mission perspective, this move will allow people to talk about their church to other mission-minded people and it will give us an interesting platform to talk about major social issues that churches don’t often address like pornography and the commercialized sex industry as a whole.
At the same time, a few people are concerned that this move will hinder our mission. Up to this point, a major emphasis of our mission has been to reach out to young families and provide safe, secure, and encouraging environments for their children. At this new location, there will be young families that never come to visit simply because of their concern over answering questions about the purple building with the horse in front of it.
The most common negatives expressed about this building, though, are not related to any “ick factor” of being in that part of the city or having the neighbors we would have. Most of the people with major misgivings about the move are concerned mainly for the security of our people and especially the children of the church. There are concerns about evening Bible studies in a part of the city where you might have drunk people out on the streets. There are concerns about vandalism to church property. The bottom line is that there is a concern that being in a more industrial part of the city will be less safe than being in a place like where we are now.
Finally, I have heard from at least a few people who have had major experiences with sexual abuse in their past, and I have heard from some who have had or continue to have major problems with different forms of sexual addictions including the addiction to pornography. For those people, a move to this location will cause them to regularly be reminded of their past pain or their current struggles.

Why are you sharing this?

Now, there was one more objection that I heard a couple times in the feedback that I want to address as I close this email. Some people said in the feedback that the fact we were asking for feedback showed that we as a leadership team of the church were not really being led by God or that we were at least so uncertain that we needed to hear other people on the issue.
So, why did we solicit feedback? Why did I share all this stuff with you in this blog post?
The simple fact is this: We just finished a financial campaign in which I emphasized the following points over and over again.

  • We dream of letting God use us to build a spiritual home for the spiritually homeless.
  • Whether you pledge $1 or $10,000 doesn’t matter as much to me as the simple fact that you make a pledge of any kind because we want this to be a project we do together.

As a church, we are in a very unique position. Our bylaws don’t require us to take a vote for the purchase of a building or the relocation of our church. Our bylaws don’t require the members to take a vote on much of anything at all. But that doesn’t mean the leaders don’t care. We believe that God has put the decision-making power for the life of the church into the hands of the leaders, but we also believe that the kind of leaders God calls to be leaders are those who are servants first.
That’s why I and the leadership team of this church have been asking for feedback. We want to know what you are thinking because we want to lead well, and we also want to serve well.
But there is one more reason you need to know all this, and it is the main reason I’m sharing this blog post with you.
I want you to know your family better. I want you to know who you sit with on Sundays. I want you to know the heart of people who might not ever have the chance to tell you how they are feeling about major decisions. I want you to be part of a community.
And, I want you to be praying more effectively for this upcoming decision. Please seek God for the leaders and for your fellow family members that we all hear his voice and know his guidance in this process.
 

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