Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

Ministry Challenge: Growing a Church Through a Building Project – Phil Cole

Iron RodsWCA UK & Ireland Member Survey:

Q1 Please can you share a ministry challenge that you have worked through in recent years?

Growing a church through a building project and moving towards having two services.

When I first muted going to two services it received quite a negative reaction, so we paused and started from scratch. I realised I had travelled the journey in my thinking alone, and needed to take the Elders, leaders and rest of the church through the same process as I had been on. This meant a lot of listening and a lot of research.

Q2 How did you tackle it from the start?

By prayer, talking to other church leaders and reading relevant books.

I spent time with several other church leaders who had gone through this process. There were some churches where this approach had worked and some where it had not and I had to figure out why.

I tried to involve the whole church in the process by consulting all the way through, whether it was church meetings, smaller ministry leader’s meetings, or individual conversations. We needed to get the balance right. We had to lead the process, but not dictate it.

When I spoke to the church on the third occasion they were secure in the fact that we had done the homework, and that whilst it wouldn’t be perfect, they were now ready to give it a go – it gave them confidence.

I am now much wiser about the process. There is a church leader I’ve got to know who has been through this process twice and he and his leadership team are advising us through it. Our youth, children’s and worship ministry leaders are in contact with their counterparts, and picking up tips, hints and possible pitfalls.

Most of the books I read were inspiring me to keep focus, and thinking about what could be, and leadership books that helped me grow. They included:
• No Perfect People Allowed, John Burke
• Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley
• Culture of Honour , Danny Silk
• John Maxwell – Most of his books!

If I had to recommend one it would be The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.

Q3 What obstacles did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?

• One obstacle was enthusing the congregation to give, so every six weeks I take a break from the normal expository sermons and have a Vision Sunday that is always focused on where God is leading us – this helps keep the ‘big picture’ in focus and gets everyone involved.
We had regular Gift Days for the building project which raised the bulk of the cash. To keep a visual picture as a reminder and to get children involved we asked people to save 20p pieces and fill cardboard bricks with 49 of them. This was because our building project was known as Project 49:20 (from Isaiah 49:20 “This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in”).

• Another obstacle was keeping momentum – this was difficult as we had problems with planning, and had to change design and architects through the process. The greatest motivation was that our facilities at the time were unfit for purpose.

• At the moment we’re looking at discipleship in the church, as well as moving to two services – this is much more challenging than the building project. In terms of taking people through the process it is much slower. At the same time we’re tackling the area of how are we making disciples – they dovetail together well. The inspiration behind this process is MOVE by Willow Creek, and everything by Dallas Willard!

Q4 If you achieved your goal, how did you celebrate? If you didn’t achieve your goal, how have you resolved it?

The building is completed, and the fruit of our labours has been the celebration (apart from the celebration service). It’s on going with the transition to two services to relieve the pressure on space. We will probably be making the switch in May.

Phil Cole

Church / Organisation
Bransgore Community Church

City / Town


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