It has been a long time since I have posted on here! I think in some ways social media killed blogs. No one has time for long posts, they want their information in bite size chunks. I actually prefer quick hits but there are times where you need a place to just explain things in a little bit more detail.
When we started Action Church we started it with a very clear and simple vision. We wanted to have a huge celebration on Sundays and we wanted to serve our city the rest of the week. We had no desire for classes, mid-week meetings, different ministries, etc. We just wanted to meet together and serve our community. In the early days that was easy. We had a 7500 sq ft building and we wore that building out. We had kids meeting in school buses and walk in freezers. We used the building as a multi-purpose building in every way. Rent was cheap and it was great. Then something happened….we kept growing. We had to have bigger space and the 25,000 sq ft next door to 7500 sq ft became available. We signed a lease on the bigger space, did a build-out, and very quickly I felt we became like every other church. Everything was about maintaining the building, paying rent, paying utilities, and as much as I hated it we became all about Sunday in a lot of ways.
During this same time, we made a transition in our community efforts. We moved all of those out from under the heading of the church and started our own non-profit called #ForCanton. #ForCanton in my opinion is the best thing I have ever been involved with. It truly is amazing. It runs the only emergency warming shelter in our county, operates a huge food pantry, and keeps up with what is probably the biggest clothing closet around. #ForCanton also hosts several large events a year including a Back To School Carnival and a huge Thanksgiving Outreach called “Give Canton The Bird.”
The interesting thing is #ForCanton basically left Action Church with just a Sunday morning service. Everything else was done under the non-profit. So now Action Church is carrying the burden of huge bills on something that was used for 90 minutes on Sunday morning. I just wasn’t down with that.
Also in the last year, I had started a very successful event company called BBQ and Brews. Through this I discovered a love and passion for putting on large scale events centered around good music, good beer, good food and even better community. As BBQ and Brews grew, other opportunities opened up. I was presented with the offer to open a full-time venue. Basically a third space in our community for people to do life together. Great events (music, comedy, etc.) with great food and drink. The idea of The Revival was born.
After looking at several different places, we kept coming back to the Action building. In every way it was the best building for this adventure. 2016 was a tough year for me personally as a pastor. Lots of attacks from people and in many ways I started losing my passion knowing that we couldn’t impact our community in the way we envisioned because every penny was going to the building instead of going to #ForCanton.
We begin to dream and pray what it would look like if we turned the building into the venue and allowed Action to still hold services in the building on Sunday mornings……for free. The only issue was what were we going to do with #ForCanton which operated in different parts of the building. So after much discussion we begin to think what would #ForCanton look like if we gave them the old part of the building (7500 sq ft). It is a totally separate building with its own entrance and utilities.
As we were dreaming through all of this, my long time partner in crime, Taylor Smith made it known that she would like to take over #ForCanton full-time. God had been preparing her for this the last 11 years as she has worked with me. With Taylor in charge and their own building we think the sky is the limit for #ForCanton. We think it will be more effective than ever.
We met with our leadership and after some discussion they agreed that this was way outside of the box but that it allowed us to do what we felt called to do and do it more effectively. So over the last month we have been in a series at Action where we explained all of this. As with any transition, there were questions, concerns and even some people who moved on. Overall, it was nothing but excitement. People who truly got the bigger picture realized that we are going to free up about 45% of our budget to go directly back into our community.
So what does this look like for all the different entities that I have my hands in? Let me try to explain:
Action Church – In just about every area nothing changes for Action Church. Action Church will still continue to meet in this location every Sunday. The main worship area will be turned into a venue but will still have staging, better sound equipment, a better environment, and all that goes with that. The only difference is there won’t be “Action Church” signs. The kids area will continue to meet on the “old” side of the building. There will be about 30 minutes of set-up every Sunday to get the kids area set up on Sunday but they will still operate next door and the space will be 100000% nicer.
The only thing that really changes for Action Church is we no longer have the burden of paying for a building and maintaining a building. We will now meet for FREE in what will be one of the nicest venues in North Georgia. We no longer will have to feel held hostage to disgruntled church people who threaten to take their finances with them when they leave. Action Church is going nowhere. We will continue to love God, love people, and take action. We will actually do these things better than ever because that will be all we have to focus on.
#ForCanton – Taylor Smith will be moving into the Executive Director role of #ForCanton. With our own building we will be able to run the warming shelter more effectively, we will be able to have a bigger area for our food pantry, we will be able to offer life coaching in areas like parenting, ESL, budgeting and whatever other needs we see. We have a long list of things we are envisioning over the next year.
#ForCanton will also be going through a name change. #ForCanton will soon become #ForCherokee. We want people anywhere in this country to know where they can come when they have needs. We have some HUGE plans for #ForCherokee that are truly going to change the trajectory of the lives of those in Cherokee County.
Revival Venue – Our goal is this coming New Years Eve we will launch The Revival Venue. Over the next 9 months we will be meeting with the city to see what is required to make this happen. We will be doing a lot of interior design changes to the building, installing bars, upgrading sound equipment and installing a commercial kitchen. 100% of this financing is coming from the owners of the venue. It is not coming out of the Action or #ForCanton budget though both will benefit from the upgrades.
We are going to put on 3-4 different shows this year that will benefit #ForCanton to get the kinks worked out before we launch. Our goal is to create a phenomenal venue space for the people in North Georgia to do life in.
I know people hate change. Change scares people. But at the end of the day, our goal is to do what makes us most effective at helping those in our city. These changes will be huge for our city without changing what we love about Action Church.
It is an exciting time and I can’t wait to see what happens over the rest of the year!