By Bob Russell
(From our series “The Best or Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received.”)
In 1983, when we began planning our first relocation project, I asked Jack Coffee, the building committee chairman, to limit the size of the new auditorium to 1,500 seats. “We have 1,000 in attendance now in a building that seats 500,” I said. “If we have 1,500 seats in the new auditorium, we can accommodate 3,000 people in two services, and we’ll never get any larger than that. But if the room is bigger than 1,500 seats, it will be too spacious for meaningful meetings on Wednesday and Sunday nights.”
“Your faith is too small,” Jack replied. “You just keep preaching and we’ll build.” The building committee proposed an auditorium that seated 2,500 people, and it was approved by the elders. By the time we occupied the building three years later, we had to have two services. From that point, God did immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.
That phrase, “You just keep preaching, and we’ll build,” stayed in my mind the rest of my ministry. It was a frequent reminder to stay with my primary calling and give space to staff members and volunteers to use their gifts of administration, finances, music, children’s work, etc., and not stifle their vision with my limited perspective.
Bob Russell is the retired minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky.