By Carl Stagner
Lost in the middle of the desert, you’d be hard-pressed to find water. But at the edge of the Sonoran Desert in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, you’ll find an oasis of hope where the Living Water is in full supply. For years, desert-dwellers have made their way to this oasis, quenching their spiritual thirst on the unconditional love Jesus, and telling others where they can find water. The road to a healthy, growing church has been dusty at times, but God has blessed every mile. Now McDowell Mountain Community Church faces a new kind of problem—a good kind of problem. They need more space!
It’s a good problem faced by many of our growing congregations. For McDowell Mountain, expansion was always the confident expectation. “Multiply” has been the rallying cry of the expansion campaign, which began with Phase One in 2006, resulting in a worship center and lobby, as well as some classrooms and offices. Ten years later, the existing facility can’t contain what God is doing—nor could it ever, as the four walls only provide a gathering place where disciple-makers are launched into the community. Phase Two brings improvements to the children and youth areas, adds 25 percent more seating and parking capacity, opens up the lobby space—which will include the construction of a new café—and repurposes vacated children’s classrooms.
“This building campaign was initiated before I came to the church,” explains Mark Krenz, who has served as lead pastor for fourteen months. He continues, “It was paused during the lead pastor transition, but the church was poised to re-engage the campaign quickly. While I wouldn’t recommend jumping into a multi-million dollar building campaign in the first couple months of a new pastorate, we wanted to keep moving with what we truly needed for our church and continue what God had already set in motion.”
Looking to what God has in store for the future, it would be an oversight not to acknowledge those who paved the way for present ministry. Founding pastor Don Doe and Mark’s predecessor Matt Anderson established a healthy environment at McDowell Mountain, for which Mark praises God today. “The leadership has kept focused on doing a few ministries well, and every Sunday creating a joyful, life-giving environment centered on the grace, hope, and love of Jesus,” he explains. “That’s contagious! We are called to go and make disciples. The way we do that is to gather the people, turn hearts and minds toward Christ, and love others with no strings attached, so we can multiply our impact beyond our walls.”
Before Mark inherited the expansion project at McDowell Mountain, he served nine years at ONE Community, a Church of God he planted in Queen Creek, Arizona. Those nine years prepared him for the expansion he oversees today at McDowell Mountain, which has included helping to launch a new Church of God—Arcadia City Church—in the heart of Phoenix. “Church planting stretched my faith and dependence on God like no other experience in my walk with Christ,” Mark explains. “The years of planting also grew my heart for reaching people far from God through creative ways. Walking in church planting and church multiplication circles all those years also embedded a passion to see the church multiply, whether through growth and expansion, church planting, or adding new campuses. Now as the lead pastor of ‘MMCCaz’ I am able to build on and leverage these passions through our church—expanding here and, as we like to say, ‘multiplying our impact beyond our walls.’ To this end, and over the past several months, we also helped launch a new church in Phoenix with two staff member families and about forty people from our church. It was cool how, on the same Sunday of our groundbreaking, February 21, the new church celebrated their first worship service.”
What excites Pastor Mark most about the opportunity this expansion represents? “Of course, it gives us much-needed space,” he explains. “It allows our building to reflect our ministry priorities and will help us do our ministry more effectively. But what is truly exciting about a building project is seeing people investing in the future to see lives changed and disciples made for generations to come. That deepens the faith and commitment of the people of our church. On our groundbreaking Sunday, our theme was ‘Building a Strong Foundation.’ I reminded our church that before you can build up, you have to dig deep. A project like this only happens when a church pulls together, digs deep, and builds up the kingdom.”
In the future, Phase Three is expected to add a few hundred more seats, a new administrative area, and a new student ministry/multipurpose center.
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