I remember the first time the potential opportunity to purchase the Crosswalk Center (Colorado Community Church at the time) was brought to my attention. I had just begun my tenure as Senior Pastor of the church. Highline was struggling to get out of debt, facing losing our University Blvd. building, and on a good Sunday had about 200 adults attending two half-filled services. I didn’t give the idea a second thought.
A year later, we had moved to our new philosophy of trying to keep the team together in one service, and build community through bi-monthly meals together after the service. We had refinanced the old building, our budget had stabilized, and we had about 300 adults attending on Sunday mornings. The leadership of the church began looking at what we could do to facilitate our growth, while keeping our one service philosophy. We explored what changes we could make at the University Bldg. We also were working to get South Suburban Rec. District to honor the parking restrictions at Goodson Rec. Center that were contractually ours on Sunday mornings. We were not having a great deal of success.
It was at that point that the opportunity arose to take another look at acquiring the Colorado Community Church facility. The price had dropped and our circumstances had changed. We began to take a serious look. Highline continued to grow. We were seeing about 350 adults attend on Sunday mornings. This was about the maximum number of adults we could serve on a Sunday morning without going to multiple services. The launch of Thrive on Friday nights pushed our total adult attendance up to around 450 total.
In order to pursue a move to the CCC building, we faced numerous challenges. The greatest was one of timing. Colorado Community Church had other buyers interested, and as you probably know, church decisions take significant time and process. In order to make the purchase a possibility, Crosswalk Fellowship (Bo and Gari Mitchell, Susie Hayes, Mark Klibbe, and the board of the ministry), raised the finances necessary to tie up what was the CCC Englewood building. Their hope was that Highline would figure out how to buy the building from them at their cost and make it a ministry center with Highline as the anchor church. The building officially became the Crosswalk Center.
I remember thinking what it would be like to be BACK in this building where I spent ten years of my life as the Teaching Pastor at Cherry Hills Community Church. The term “full circle” came frequently to mind. My sense was that God was behind bringing many of us with a history at the building BACK to a place that had played a significant role in our past, as the place he would use for his plans and purposes for the FUTURE. Our elders began to look seriously and pray seriously about the FUTURE of HCC. Staying at our old building would be a decision to limit growth. Was this God’s plan… or were we being led to pursue the Crosswalk Center? Was this an open door? As most other churches were moving south, was God leading us to a strategic location further to the north?
It was about two years ago that the elders unanimously voted to pursue this dream. We began the task of figuring out the nuts and bolts of how a move BACK would enable us to fulfill God’s plans for the FUTURE. Team Highline launched out on the adventure to purchase this building. “Adventure” is the key word. There has been a great deal of “drama” behind the scenes to go along with a few unexpected twists and turns. For instance, part of our ability to afford the building hinged on Colorado Community Church, Englewood, remaining in the building as a lessee. The abrupt resignation of their pastor, and the decision of the larger board of CCC not to call another pastor, changed everything. We had already made arrangements to have our Easter Service at the Crosswalk building. The board of Colorado Community Church asked us to consider staying after Easter and trying to integrate members of CCC into our body. We came to the decision that if Crosswalk Fellowship would allow us to come, we should do it.
We moved our Sunday services here on April 8, 2012: Easter Sunday. That was a little over a year ago. We now average a little over 400 adults on Sunday mornings. Our brunches fill the Summit room. We have about 100 young adults attending Thrive on Friday nights. With our children and youth included, Highline is a church of a little over 600. Sadly, we have lost some or our old HCC families. Joyfully, we have gained many former CCC families. The two congregations have blended into something completely new – and wonderful!
In June of last year, STBM, a Messianic Jewish congregation approached Crosswalk Fellowship and made an offer to buy the Crosswalk Center. We jokingly began to talk about the “race” to buy the building. Crosswalk Fellowship entered into a long-term lease with both HCC and STBM. Whoever bought the facility would “inherit” the other as a tenant. For us, this meant the financial setback of losing the CCC rent was more than offset by the rent that would be paid by STBM – making the economics of a move even better for HCC.
At the end of the year, a small handful of families, in a spirit of faith and generosity, gave over a half million dollars to be used as a down payment to enter into a purchase agreement between Highline and Crosswalk Fellowship. Shortly thereafter, we submitted a contract that was accepted by Crosswalk Fellowship to purchase the building. That contract requires Highline to accomplish a number of tasks. First, we either need to raise the approximately $7.8 million to pay cash for the building, or secure a responsible loan to cover the difference between the purchase price and what we raise in our BACK to the FUTURE campaign.
To stay fiscally responsible, we do not want to take on debt of over $5 million. With the rents we will receive from tenants, and more favorable interest rates than when we re-financed our old building, our mortgage payments on this facility will actually be less than on our old building. That seems miraculous to me. This means that we need to raise a minimum of $2.5 million in our campaign to add to the half million given at the end of the year. If we give more, the debt will be less.
All of us get a chance to play a part in this adventure. Your part is important. Between now and May 26, we have all been asked to pray about what God might want us to give. I have no doubt that we can do this. I believe we will. BACK to the FUTURE is not a fundraising campaign (even though funds are involved). It is not a capital campaign (although we hope raise capital). It is not even a building campaign (but we hope it will provide a building). It is a ministry campaign. It is a generosity and faithfulness campaign. It is an investment campaign in the FUTURE of Highline as part of what God is doing in the Denver metropolitan area and around the world. On April 28, you are all invited to attend one of the home fellowship meetings we will be holding around the area. If you have more questions, you will have a chance to ask them and clarify anything that is still unclear in your mind about why we are heading BACK to the FUTURE!