By Mel McGowan
We serve a God of purpose and strategy, and we are called by him to be strategic with our resources and the stories we tell the world.
The leadership of Bayside Church in Northern California found itself in a property predicament. The church owned three types of land: property that needed developing, property it was leasing, and property it didn’t make sense to sell.
These properties all required strategic money management and planning to transform them into spaces that honored God and were inviting to the community. So pastor Ray Johnston created an ambitious master plan designed to revamp Bayside’s existing campuses while establishing new sites that could strategically connect them to new communities in the area.
My journey with Bayside Church began indirectly through a friendship that spans several decades. During the 1980s, Rick Stedman was a pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, California, where I was discipled. He went on to plant and lead Adventure Christian Church in Roseville for 22 years; he also served as a board member with the organization I worked for at the time and was a mentor to me.
Today, the Adventure campus is part of the thriving multisite Bayside Church family and is one of the multiple sandboxes we are playing in with pastor Johnston and worship pastor (and resident rock star) Lincoln Brewster. Additional collaborations with our PlainJoe Studios team include:
Bayside Granite Bay: After updating the master plan, we’ve performed “design intervention” surgery on their former institutional education wing, transforming it into the vibrant rescue center-themed “Thrive Kids.” We’ve also designed an open-air lanaityle “Town Square” that is the new core of the campus.
Bayside Blue Oaks: This leased industrial space functions as a Bayside campus on weekends as well as an indoor park and “third place” seven days a week.
Freedom Point: We updated a mixed-use, 100-plus-acre master plan to incorporate California’s first Top Golf, two hotels, retail, restaurants, and a new church home for the congregation currently housed at Bayside Blue Oaks.
Bayside Midtown: This former market represents an urban infill location where we are designing the redemption of loading docks and parking into a community “front porch.”
Bayside Puts ‘Compassion FIRST’
As Bayside works to fund these important projects, the church is taking radical steps to prioritize people, not property. Beyond simply funding their building projects, Bayside’s leadership team is actively targeting the greater impact they will have in their community by stretching their generosity. Through their three-year fund-raising initiative, Bayside is committed to focusing on “Compassion FIRST”:
Fight: Bayside is targeting 13 projects that combat sex trafficking and poverty.
Invest: The church is committed to supporting 12 high-impact ministry partners.
Reach: Bayside is focused on the next generation by supporting eight projects that help at-risk children
Serve: The church is taking on nine local projects benefiting their immediate community.
Train: Bayside’s heart for raising up Christian leadership is apparent in funding 12 training and equipping programs.
I am so encouraged to see Bayside exercising careful financial planning and setting goals designed not only to build vibrant sacred spaces, but to care for the poor and their community, and to equip their staff for effective Christian ministry. When the dust clears, they will see what they have built is worth so much more.
Mel McGowan is cofounder and chief creative principal of PlainJoe Studios. He is a leading master planner and designer of churches in America.