First of all the reason for doing this. We are in a season of growth as a community (so far this year we've already had seven Sundays where we've gathered over 1,000 people), which although exciting also brings to us a number of challenges.
- One of the major challenges is space for children on a Sunday. K2 is bursting at the seams, particularly at the 11am meeting, and if we don't create more space there we will simply limit our growth.
- We are also rapidly running out of office space. Over the last few years we have seen both the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms in the Kerith Centre converted into offices, multiple people now occupying what were Ken Bothamley and Mick Taylor's offices and a number of people desk sharing. We would struggle to add even one more member of staff (I have no idea where the Academy students will go in September if we increase from 7 to 15 students as planned!).
- We are also struggling for space midweek. Anyone trying to book space with Sue Ranger for a midweek course or team meeting will know it is almost impossible to find a room which is free. Car parking is also an issue midweek, particularly for the sparklers team.
We have looked at various solutions. Building over the car park is incredibly expensive (£6.5 million according to Ralph's estimate) and we would lose so much car parking that it would severely limit what we can do midweek. Hiring rooms in the bowling club or the college doesn't seem to be an option. Neither is simply deciding not to grow. So the only workable solution seems to be to free up space in the Kerith Centre by moving staff offsite (if anyone has another idea I'd love to hear it!).
So here's the proposal:
- We look to provide desks for all the staff who don't need to be at the Kerith Centre offsite, leaving behind the receptionists and facilities team. We'd hope to find an office within walking distance of the Kerith Centre which would provide parking spaces. Jeff Whitton has begun a search for a suitable office for us.
- On a Sunday all the unders 5's work would move to the Kerith Centre. Babies would be in my office, 1's and 2's in the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms, 3's and 4's in the main office.
- This would free up space in K2 so that the 5-11's could be split into separate age groups and do age appropriate teaching for different age groups. We would also have more space to care for the Konnections children.
- Midweek the main office would be kept as a children's space (possibly used as a creche for different groups), but my office and the Spurgeon and Rochdale rooms would be available to book as meeting rooms. The other two offices may become storage rooms.
- All meetings would be planned to take place at the Kerith Centre. That would mean Foodbank, meeting CAP and crisis intervention clients, staff meetings, meeting church members, and meeting outside contractors and visitors from other churches.
- We would plan to have a rota so that one member of the ministry / community team is at the Kerith Centre at all times to deal with people walking in through the doors needing help.
Here I think are some of the advantages:
- Space to grow and improve our children's work on Sundays.
- Space to grow the staff team
- Space to do more midweek due to the extra meeting rooms and more car parking space which may allow ministries like Sparklers to grow
- Kerith potentially having a presence in the town centre, or at least in a 'secular' office
The downsides include:
- Splitting the staff team across two sites could create and "us and them" feel
- The reception / Foodbank team could feel very isolated in the building on their own
- The Kerith Centre could feel very dead
- Confusion for church members about how to contact one of the team, and pain for those who are used to "just popping in to the office"
- It will cost money (although considerably less money than a new building project)
There may be other concerns and issues you can think of, or ideas you may have around the move. We're already collating these from the staff, I'd love to start gathering them from a wider audience too. If you do have comments or ideas please could you email them into the office, and we'll take a look at them all.
One final question is around timescales. I sense we need to make this move sooner rather than later, but it will inevitably involve a whole load of detailed discussion, planning and praying. I really have no idea when we might be in a position to do it - I'd hope some time in 2011, although it may prove to take us longer than that to properly work it all through.
Whenever we look to change there are always fears and concerns which could stop us. I remember when we were talking about closing the bookshop, where one of the fears was that the Kerith Centre reception would now feel dead. The reality has been the opposite, with the reception area being busier than it has ever been. I believe that we can similarly deal with our fears and concerns over this change if we approach it in the right way
I do believe this move could usher a new season of growth, and a load of new opportunities for us as a community. I wanted to involve everyone in making it happen, which is why I've shared this information at such an early stage. Please see this as an opportunity to shape what is going to happen next, and to continue to foster the pioneer spirit which is part of our DNA as a community.
Hope this has been helpful, and well done for making it to the end!