By Kent E. Fillinger
“If you build it, they will come” is an adaptation of the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. This adage doesn’t always apply to churches, but in the case of Academy Christian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, its dreams did come true.
Academy completed its fourth building expansion project on April 1, 2012, doubling its facility’s square footage and increasing the church’s visibility from the main road. Since then, the average number of weekly guests has increased from four to eight, and average attendance during 2012 increased from 415 to 529 (27 percent).
Academy built a new worship center, a two-story education wing, and a large lobby. There are several very large churches nearby, but as senior pastor Bryan Myers noted, Academy is “not a huge church, but it’s a desirable size given what opportunities we offer.”
The church has three Sunday worship services—one traditional and two contemporary. While many churches have focused on small groups and done away with the traditional Sunday school model, Academy decided several years ago to emphasize adult Bible classes on Sundays—which is why it added so much educational space in the recent addition. The church also promotes small group involvement, but classes at the church are a priority.
The congregation’s giving almost always exceeds its budget. When fires consumed 350 nearby homes this past summer, Myers felt compelled to collect a special offering for the families who lost their homes. Church leaders decided to give away one Sunday’s entire offering for this purpose. A typical weekend offering at Academy is $15,000 to $18,000, but the special offering to help the community totaled $28,000.
Academy invests 15 percent of its budget in outreach ministries. The church offered three international mission trips last year and is exploring the possibility of supporting international church planting in South America by partnering with a national church there.
Academy also serves its neighbors through its “Be the Church Sunday” each March when worship services are cancelled so the congregation can serve the community. In addition, 80 percent of Academy’s members serve in some type of ministry in the church. “As we keep growing, we’ll need even more volunteers,” Myers said.
To reinforce volunteering, Academy is calling this the “year of ministry partnerships.” Myers and his team are challenging every person to recruit a ministry partner to serve with them in ministry or serve for them when they are absent. The hope is for every ministry to have a two-deep roster of volunteers ready to serve.
Myers says Academy does a fairly good job of reaching disillusioned churched people who are looking to change churches, and in reaching people who have left church altogether. But it needs to improve at reaching the unchurched.
The year 2014 will be the “year of the invite” at Academy. The plan is for staff and leaders to start inviting their unchurched friends and neighbors to attend worship this year, setting an example for the congregation to do the same in 2014.