For the pastors at Faith Community Church, the recent investment — about $1.2 million total, including a 7,500-square-foot expansion, the move to four full-time pastors and a full-time director of children’s ministries and an additional investment in foreign missions — isn’t about promoting the church.
It’s about promoting God.
“Our goal is to say, ‘look how great our God is,’” Youth Pastor John Ackatz said. “After so many years of being told to wait, God has said, ‘move.’ And we want to be obedient.”
Ackatz has been at the Fort Atkinson church about 18 years, almost as long as the desire to expand the space of the church, located at W5949 Hackbarth Road. But as Ackatz and Senior Pastor Rusty Lyon explained, the time wasn’t right until now.
“Every time we started to move that direction, something came up that we knew it wasn’t the right time,” Ackatz said.
However, the time is right now, and a 7,560-square-foot-expansion at the church is almost finished. Faith will hold a special service Saturday at 7 p.m. to celebrate the addition, and worship in celebration again Sunday at its normal time, 9 a.m. Saturday night’s service will feature a live band in the brand-new youth worship space, while Sunday’s service will be in the main sanctuary.
While the expansion of Faith has in one way or another been in the works for 18 years, it wasn’t until about three years ago that the overall picture became more focused. Ackatz said that the arrival of Lyon as senior pastor coincided with a new long-range plan for the church.
“Where is God taking us for the future?” Ackatz asked rhetorically.
Church elders and staff then put together a plan that included the expansion of full-time positions as well as the church addition, which was submitted to the congregation for approval. The growing number of members — including an influx of youth members — indicated that the need was now.
“We saw the growth happening, and reasons why it was being restricted,” Ackatz said. “With the plan, we were able to release the things holding us back.”
Added Rev. Lyon, “The pinch had been there in the past. But at that time, we definitely felt the pinch.”
The addition of full-time staff came first. In addition to Lyon and Ackatz, the church also had Chad Sander, the worship pastor. In order to address the growing needs with the children’s ministry, Jackie Lyon (Pastor Lyon’s sister-in-law) was promoted from part- to full time during the past year.
The church also hired Dennis Dale, who now is the associate pastor of discipleship. Dale was added to help work with the adults of the congregation, but as Ackatz explained, the additional space was needed for him to work in his new position.
“The youth space is what we’ve been talking about the longest, but I think it was all needed space,” Ackatz said. “We hired a director for adult ministries, but he had no space to do anything.”
Which is where the expansion comes into play. Where there used to be doors leading to an outdoor patio is the new space. It starts with an expanded fellowship area, in which congregation may gather and talk following the services. Included in this space are new furniture and a coffee bar.
Lyon said he always had envisioned a larger fellowship area before coming to the church, but equated the previous space to being jammed in “like we were sardines in a can.”
Ackatz added, “There was no place for them (after services) to go except out of the space and leave.”
The next new space addresses a need for Dale and his adult ministry — a large classroom space that can be made into either one large classroom, two mid-sized classrooms or three smaller classrooms.
“It’s for the education and growth of the adults,” Ackatz said, with the space available for everything from adult Bible study classes to parenting classes.
Adult Sunday school also will be held in the space.
But the gem of the expansion is the new 3,200-square-foot youth worship space.
The room includes two small study areas, a welcome desk, a stage with a full audio and light setup, and a foosball and ping-pong table for those looking to relax.
The youth ministry has reason for expansion at the church. In addition to an already large group of children and teenagers, there are a number of infants and more on the way, according to Lyon. The former youth room is being converted into an expansion of the nursery.
The celebration of the new space is scheduled for Saturday night at 7 p.m. There will be a worship service that night, as well as at the 9 a.m. service Sunday. The band Ackatz alluded to is Sanders and volunteers, who will be performing in the new space Saturday night and in the sanctuary Sunday.
“I’m just sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what God’s going to do with it,” Lyon said. “I didn’t want us to construct something as a monument. I believe that we have a relevant message that our generation is dying to hear.”