Compiled by Renee Little
Four church leaders who have worked with or are working with The Solomon Foundation on building projects offered to share their experiences. Here’s what they had to say.
Chad Goucher, The Refinery in Phoenix, Arizona
Many times in my life I’ve felt as if, from a leadership perspective, I was hitting my head on the ceiling. I knew there was something “higher,” something more, something I couldn’t tap into on my own. As a pastor leading a church charged with helping people find and know Jesus, being able to break through that ceiling and finding something higher is critical.
I did not want my own pride—my desire to be the guy with all the answers—to keep our church from growing, expanding, and reaching lost people. So, I knew I needed some experienced and trustworthy people in my life to walk alongside me.
Our church was at a critical point. We needed to expand. But being a young church in a rented facility, we didn’t have much money in the bank. At the time, I think the most valuable thing we owned was a projector, and it wasn’t even that good!
Then God began to answer my prayers for those experienced and trustworthy people to come into the life of our church. I heard about a new church extension fund called The Solomon Foundation, and I reached out to them. A couple weeks later, Doug Crozier was sitting in my little makeshift office telling me about all the opportunities waiting for us just on the other side of my personal “ceiling.” If I was willing to step out in faith, TSF was willing to step out with us. The only question was, Did I want to break through that ceiling and go higher than ever before?
I try not to allow money to be the sole driver in my decision-making. I believe if it is God’s plan, it is God’s problem to finance it. TSF provided money for us to purchase 25 acres of amazing property and a new building. However, the finances were only a portion of what TSF has done for our church, our staff, and my wife and me. They have provided support, a friendship network, and confidence in me that I never expected.
Breaking through the ceiling and going higher has been the best decision I’ve ever made for our church and my own spiritual journey.
Matt Richardson, New Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
On March 1, 2020, my family and I moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to lead a young and thriving church ready for their next step. New Church was 10 years old and still meeting at a YMCA. Just one week after I became lead pastor, we were all introduced to the world of COVID-19. Our church had money in the bank and a growing and excited core, but it also had a new lead pastor, a global pandemic to confront, and the inherent difficulty of renting space while the world shut down. By God’s grace, an AMC movie theater became available for purchase. It needed tons of work but had the potential to become an amazing home for us.
Our church was primed and ready to move ahead, but it was The Solomon Foundation’s belief and trust in us that allowed us to move quickly. When everyone else said, “Slow down; these are uncharted days,” TSF breathed life and vision into us and said, “Keep going! Don’t slow down!”
The kingdom of God doesn’t stop because of COVID-19 or the conditions of the world around us. Scripture says Jesus builds his church and not even the gates of Hell can stop it. Jesus is building his church in Winston-Salem, and The Solomon Foundation is being used by him to continue its advancement.
During an 11-month period, we went from the start of construction on our building to record-breaking attendance at our grand-opening worship services on January 9, 2022. As grateful and humbled as we are about where we have come from, we are even more excited about where we are headed. Thank you, TSF, for believing in us! The best is yet to come!
Brian Gardner, White Flag Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri
Leaders who have led churches through construction of new buildings know these are the types of projects that will, as Kelly Clarkson has sung, either kill you or make you stronger.
White Flag Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, is only a few months out from cutting the ribbon on a new, 45,000-square-foot building with a 1,027-seat worship center. So, I can’t promise that this project won’t ultimately kill me, but I can promise you we’re all stronger, thanks to our partnership with The Solomon Foundation.
From the beginning, the team at TSF has given us stronger confidence in our project and plans. They provided us context and understanding that was crucial to making important decisions early in the design process, even before we reached the point of construction.
After gaining confidence we had the right building design for our church, we were further strengthened by TSF with the financial backing to proceed. With Solomon, it involved more than just knowing we had access to a construction loan. It was knowing we were on the right track financially and that we had the ongoing support and backing of TSF no matter what lay ahead. We immediately moved our cash reserves to an investment account with TSF, thus achieving an even better fiscal position short-term and throughout our building campaign.
Construction is now underway, and TSF’s construction management team is helping guide us through that process. Building buildings has never been my career focus, but guys like Bill Shalkowski and Tom Vick do it every day. Their expertise is making us stronger as we speak.
The Lord has blessed us throughout this entire project. He has provided constant reassurance that we’re going in the direction he has called White Flag to go. A key component of that is our partnership with The Solomon Foundation . . . it is making us stronger at just the right times.
Will Archer, Potomac Valley Church, Northern Virginia
Our strategic partnership with The Solomon Foundation has had a profoundly transformative impact on our congregational capacity. Our church building sits in Northern Virginia just 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. Potomac Valley Church has been blessed by a generationally, politically, and ethnically diverse group of Christians. Therefore, it’s vital that we be spiritually and strategically intelligent as we advance the gospel.
The Solomon Foundation has helped us be more innovative than we ever imagined. They have been incredibly responsive and generous with their organizational and institutional resources. This has occurred through profoundly transformational leadership connections with other Restoration leaders. Our senior leadership team and I have benefited from mentoring and advice from highly qualified TSF staff and industry professionals.
As I reflected on our partnership with TSF at this critical time in the history of the church, I thought of Abraham Lincoln. In his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862, he said, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise—with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
The Solomon Foundation has challenged us, encouraged us, and empowered us as a ministry to think anew and to act accordingly. We have been inspired to rise to the occasion, not simply with a brand-new ministry campus, but also with a team of highly motivated and skilled partners to help us make smart choices about engagement and service in and around our nation’s capital.
Our elders and entire senior leadership have been profoundly moved by the seismic shift in our congregation since we initiated this strategic partnership. It was the smartest thing we have done, and we are growing smarter every day as a result. We are grateful to Doug Crozier and his world-class team of leaders, who consistently inspire us to reimagine our congregational capacity for impact.