A Campus in Minnesota?
A campus in Minnesota? The Twin Cities? WHAT? Really? That’s hours away from Sioux Falls! How will it ever work? Will people come? This is… CRAZY!
These were my first thoughts when the idea of a campus in the Twin Cities was brought to us. We were asked to pray about coming to the area in hopes of reaching people and encouraging others to step outside the box and try new things.
At first, it wasn’t even something I personally wanted to consider. But… the conversation continued to come up over and over again. So a group of us from Embrace drove to Minnesota and began to think, pray, and dream about what might be possible. In that trip, it became clear this wasn’t only something we should consider… but instead, it was something that we couldn’t run away from.
“Okay Lord, if you provide… we’ll go!”
In order to launch any campus, for us there are 3 main needs in order to do so… a campus pastor, funding, and a location.
We approached Austin Walker, our 57th Campus Pastor, and asked him if he would be interested. Austin and his wife Calli are originally from the area we were looking at. Even though it would mean a move, the Walker’s were thrilled about returning “home.” Austin is going to make an AWESOME campus pastor there. Crazy!
With any campus, there are expenses to renovate a space. We want to make sure that on Launch Sunday our space looks great for the wave of first time guests who will join us. There’s also funding needed to help get a campus off the ground. Church starts can take 5+ years before becoming self-sustaining. With our campuses, it has been right around a year to do so. We shared our need to launch the campus… and the need was met. Crazy!
It has been amazing to see God move through this whole process… but there is NO question that the most powerful part is yet to come! This is where the people of St. Croix Valley Church in Lakeland, MN come in. In it’s “hayday,” SCV Church was a growing church. Yet over the years it had become a church of 70 people or less on any given Sunday. Instead of slowly dying and holding on to what they personally prefered, honestly… instead of doing what MOST churches and people would do (including myself), they had a vision greater than themselves! A church made up mostly of 60-to-80 year olds (their oldest member is 101 years old), they had a heart to reach people who didn’t know Jesus… people their sons’ and daughters’ ages… their grandkids’ ages… and even their great grand kids’ age. So again, instead of doing the norm… they decided to take a step of faith. Choosing to close their beloved church so an Embrace Campus could be launched. CRAZY!
In looking back, as a church… most of what we’ve done hasn’t made sense. Our pastor (me) didn’t want to start the church. Three years in, closing Embrace was considered because we weren’t growing. Each of our campuses hasn’t made sense. An imperfect church reaching and telling thousands of people about Jesus. Now going to Minnesota… Someone just asked me again today: “Did you ever think God would do any of this?” No way!! Crazy.
I can’t wait to see what God will do next.