The "mission incubator" is an example
of an old idea taking new form. Since the 1970s, business incubators
have been developed by state and local governments. These public
and quasi-public agencies hoped to achieve business expansion
and diversification by aiding new and growing firms. Business
incubators include business consulting, support of business councils,
economic development corporations, minority enterprise promotion,
venture capital, and technology transfer assistance. The "mission
incubator" -- like its industrial counterpart -- is a simple
and flexible building. The church is the sponsoring agent and
God's people are the human resource.
This observation was reinforced during a planning workshop at
Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Founded in 1991 (pictured
below), Calvary Chapel was soon worshipping in a 1,000-seat
industrial building. As the church grew, its members bought surrounding
industrial buildings and remodeled them to house new ministries.
The church eventually created a nonprofit construction firm --Gateway
Properties, Inc. -- which constructed the church's improvements.
Calvary Chapel soon transformed a business park into a mission
field with over 200,000 square feet on eighteen acres. Their success
pointed them to something even bigger.
In 1996, Calvary Chapel purchased a 75acre industrial property
with two, 2-story buildings encompassing a total of 300,000 square
feet of space. Church ministries continued to flourish as the
Project Team built parking, roadway, and landscape improvements.
The project now includes a 3,700-seat sanctuary, an 800-seat cafeteria,
a Christian school, a large bookstore, and various ministry spaces.
I am working with a local architect and the Calvary Chapel Project
Team to prepare a long-range master site plan, which will more
than double its building space. After sixteen years of building
ministries in a variety of existing industrial buildings, Calvary
Chapel is now ready to embark on a long-range development program
for a community campus.
The use of flexible, adaptable buildings as mission incubators
reminds us what designing for mission is all about. Sometimes
design is directed at transforming the human spirit by reinventing
new purposes for underutilized buildings. Done well, the end product
has the appearance of something that is new, fresh, and inventive.
ChurchWorks is a design firm that designs church buildings
that embrace creative ideas for expanded mission and foster friendlier
and more inviting environments. If you have any ideas or questions
you wish addressed in this column, contact David Price at (714)
832-1722, by fax at (714) 832-0738, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.