The list of the facility's features and amenities could go on and on, but Dan Dorner, senior associate pastor of administration at FBCW, says he'd rather talk about why the building was built and the lessons learned from the process."We want to make room for those who don't yet belong to the kingdom of God and to a local church," says Dorner, a former senior manager at Square D, a leading electrical distribution and factory automation manufacturer.He
is "rebranding" and embracing the theme "Just For You," a statement that is proudly etched on the banners that hang on the church's light poles, as well as on billboards, in periodicals, and other promotional materials.
"What we're trying to say is God built the building through us for this community.It's not for us - we have plenty of room just for us," Dorner
says. Dorner attributes the congregation's passion to reach the unchurched in the community to the sterling leadership of Dr. Johnny Hunt, who became the senior pastor in 1986 when the church had only a few hundred members.
According to Dorner
, Hunt brought into the church a biblical philosophy for outreach, which has become the church's mode of operation for the last 18 years.
"We have a whatever-it-takes attitude that our pastor instilled in us," says Dorner
."We're going to do whatever it takes to reach people and disciple them."
Just this past year, FBCW
launched what it calls the "Winnable War," an opportunity for the church members to connect with the people in the community and feel their spiritual pulse."We knocked on the doors of every single resident within a five-mile radius of our church and gave them a packet of information that let them know we were building a room just for them and that we have ministries especially designed to meet their needs," Dorner
admits it's great to have neat tools that can help the church develop effective ministry for people who have no church involvement.But he
adds, "If we don't (have these tools), there's still a way."Dorner wants to make clear that as far as the First Baptist Church of Woodstock
is concerned, "the building is not the end-all, but only one of the tools to provide ministry."
There's a big difference, Dorner
says, between a goal and a byproduct.He
says it's an unworthy goal for a church to want to have a big building, a big staff, and be a marquee in the community.However, Dorner
believes that a church that is faithful to the word of God and is led appropriately can't help but grow.
"The bottom line is, our church has a focus, and that is to reach people with the Gospel and disciple them.We honor God and maintain integrity in the church and in our community," says Dorner
."We've abided by those fundamental principles, and the byproduct is that we have seen the Lord bear fruit in our ministry."
"If you take a look at the number of people who are not involved in a church in any way, shape or form, and compare that against how many people we just built space for, you would say that it's ridiculous to think that our churches are even close to big enough," Dorner
explains."If we had every church in this community filled with people on a Sunday morning at the hours available for them, all the Christian churches in this community could not seat more than 1 percent of the people who live here."This explains why, according to Dorner
, the sky is the limit with regard to the potential of First Baptist Church of Woodstock
, or any church for that matter, to reach the unchurched in the community.
Building the dreamIn 1996, the leadership at FBCW
felt a need to develop a very strategic ministry plan that looked into the church's facility requirements vis-+-vis its capital investment requirements.At the foundation of this strategic master plan is a principle that states, "Finances need to follow ministry and not vice versa." "It was not founded on a build-and-they-will-come principle," says Dorner, who was the chief overseer for the church's building project.
says, it involved a more intentional approach that had him putting together 15 design teams and one statistical team that was tasked to trend each of the ministry's future growth.Each design team was led by a staff member who was responsible for the ministry that would take place in the area that they were designing.
"It became obvious to us in 1996 that we needed a breather," says Dorner
."We needed more room, and based on the statistics that we were reading, it looked like we needed something significantly larger."
What's unique about the whole project, he
says, is that all of the team captains and their members were actively involved at every stage of the process - from concept to design development to construction.
To ensure that each ministry would have all the necessary tools to operate effectively, Dorner
sent all 15 team captains to other parts of the country to visit facilities that they thought were good benchmarks.Then he
gave them 90 days to produce their requirement documents that detailed their vision for their respective ministries and the tools needed to carry it out.When the documents came in, Dorner
presented them to Dr. Hunt and to Niles Bolton Associates
, the master plan architects.
told the architects, "We are a customer that knows exactly what we want." Dorner
made a commitment to the design teams that he
would never compromise something that was associated with operating their ministries."Even when we had to make drastic, aggressive reductions to the budget, we never touched those areas."Dorner says there are many other churches that have incredible amenities, but he claims there isn't one that did as thorough a job as FBCW in making sure the ministries were represented in the design process.
helped the staff to think outside the box.He
allowed them to dream and conceptualize their ideal space," he
says.But more than representing the church and ensuring that each ministry's vision was protected, Douglas says Dorner
and his ministry teams were more interested in representing Jesus Christ.
staff walked the walk and people saw that - people who might not have another opportunity to connect with a church.
says First Baptist Church of Woodstock
decided that it would not finance its construction project through a capital campaign no matter how much the project would cost.
"The truth is, if more of God's people tithed, there wouldn't be a need for a building campaign," Dorner
notes that churches are in such a rush to build their facilities that they set aside the truth and take second best."They are successful in raising funds," he
says, "but the job of the church is not to raise funds but to raise children."
According to Dorner
, the leadership at FBCW
made a commitment that they would exercise true biblical stewardship."I don't want our people to give because we have a building project.I don't want them to give out of a different pocket or out of emotion.I want them to give because they have a vibrant relationship with the Lord."
And based on the church's giving pattern for the last three years, Dorner
predicts that the church should be in a position to be debt-free in less than nine years."We've got churches that are rooting for us and saying, 'You're going to change the way churches fund their projects,'" says Dorner
.But the key, he
adds, "is to commit to raising faithful disciples."