How does a stagnant church grow from 300 members to 700 in just five years?
Pastor Chris Delfs and his wife, Heather, had moved from SoCal to Elk Grove in northern California to plant LifePointe Christian Church. And by all indications, it was off to a great start. (They launched with 250 members!) But when attendance plateaued, they started asking themselves some difficult questions:
- Are we just a church of 300 or does God have bigger plans?
- Is it our location?
- How do we find a permanent facility in California?
They knew that meeting in a elementary school on the edge of Elk Grove put them at a bit of a disadvantage. They were hidden away in more of a rural area, and they needed a more central location.
After looking at every property available in Elk Grove, they realized that lease options were expensive and limited, and buying a property was way beyond their reach.
But there was one location that looked promising. A company called All Data Computers was giving up its 10–12 thousand square foot building, and the church felt like it was perfect for them.
It didn’t work out. When that sale fell through, they were completely discouraged. They thought that they’d missed their opportunity.
Then one December day in 2010, an auto dealership owner who attended LifePointe informed the church that a local Harley Davidson dealership had just come up for sale near him. There were so many wonderful things about this location. It was more centrally located, and it was twice the size of the building that had fallen through.
And there was absolutely no way they could afford it.
The building’s owner was more than willing to work with LifePointe and worked out an eight-year lease arrangement to help them. That still left a church of 300 with a lot of capital to raise, so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
Seeing the commitment, sacrifice, and investment on the part of the LifePointe congregation, CDF Capital wrote a $200k unsecured loan to make up the difference they needed to get into their new building. While this loan was based on the health, commitment, and capacity for generosity demonstrated by LifePointe, it was still a step of faith on the part of CDF. But faith-based lending is an important element of CDF’s loan portfolio.
This loan gave the church a renewed sense of God’s presence and purpose. As Pastor Chris puts it,
“CDF’s confidence in us was confirmation for our church that God had bigger things in store for us. We believed in our church and CDF believed in us too.”
They paid off their CDF loan in one year. They moved into the building in December 2011, one year from learning that the building was available. This move made all the difference. Within one year they had grown to 500, and they’re now seeing 700 people attending on weekends.
This gave them the confidence they needed to dream even bigger. Knowing that they’d reach their capacity when attendance reached 1,000, they began making plans for the 3.6 acres next door—even though it had never been listed for sale!
Wanting to be prepared in case God opened the door, the church began getting ready for another campaign to raise capital. Literally one week before the campaign was to start, a “For Sale” sign went up—facing the church—on the property next door.
Within six months, the church had raised over $400k, and they closed a $3.4 million loan with CDF to purchase their current building as well as the neighboring property!
In retrospect, it’s obvious that the faith-based CDF loan of $200k was just what LifePointe needed to empower and encourage them to seek God’s greater designs for the church. Even after looking at other lending opportunities, LifePointe recognizes that it would have been impossible to get their building without CDF.
As Pastor Chris is quick to point out, “Without the partnership of CDF helping us in the initial loan when we first moved in, we would never have arrived at this point today.”
WE BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH.
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