One of the most amazing things to me on TV these days are shows that remodel houses. I don’t watch them often, but when I do, I am awestruck by the designers ability to see something incredibly beautiful in the shell of the ugliest houses. I know they probably take the plans of the house and figure out what would work and what wouldn’t beforehand, but their ability to create and envision is astounding. The designers have an amazing ability to see the unseen potential of a house.
I’ve Struggled with Unseen Potential
I’ve been in ministry for about 15 years. Most of those years have been at the church in which I am currently on staff, Foundations Church. At FC, I oversee the Children’s Ministry and have the privilege of hanging out with the FC College students. I love what I do because I get to influence and love on whole families.
Our church started at a high school 10 years ago. Back then, we had to set up and tear down every Sunday. We had few volunteers and even less kids. Sometimes it was hard to see the need for me to be there when we had a week or two without elementary kids. Despite my inept leadership skills and ability to communicate with kids, our church began to grow. After, three and a half years at the high school we bought a building.
A local church contacted our office and asked us if we would be interested in buying their building. The congregation of that church had dwindled to the point of not being able to afford to keep the lights on. They were looking to sell to another church and one of the members just so happened to live in the neighborhood across from the school in which we were currently meeting. The member saw our sign as he passed by everyday and thought we might be interested. So, as a staff, we went to check out this building.
From the moment we walked into the building, Justin Graves, our lead pastor; Shannon Dalrymple; and Greg Fisher were excited. They all said we could make this work. They had visions of what could become of the building and how we could make it our own. I, on the other hand, saw an old church building. I know that is not very visionary-like. When you have your mind set on being more in a warehouse type building and then you are taken to an old church with pipe organ, wooden ceilings, cement altars, red carpet, and a 70’s style kitchen, you may not get as excited as most would expect.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t see it the other guys saw it. Jonathan Samuels, our Student Ministries Director at the time, had his reservations too. He and I were in unison when Justin asked us what we thought. “I don’t see it. I don’t see what you guys see. It just looks like an old church to me.”
Justin, Shannon, and Fish all agreed that we would change our minds once we saw what we could do with the building. I wasn’t completely convinced, but I’ve learned that sometimes you have to lean into the unknown to see God do something spectacular. Like the designers that remodel houses on TV, Justin bought the property and continued to believe it could become something more. And it became exactly what Foundations Church needed, a home.
We did the demolition work together as a church. Nothing brings men closer together than destroying a building together. We knocked down just about every interior wall. There are some that remained, but for the most part after months of demo, we were left with the shell of a building. The thing about remodeling is you have to tear down the old to build up the new.
The remodel took months. Looking over design plans, coming up with idea after idea on how we could make this building function and fit our church family, and believing that God was going to us the building to reach more people. We hired professionals to finish the remodel. A few ladies in the church that were steady-handed, came in after the construction and painted the walls. They put on the designs and animals throughout the kids area. The entire operation was a process. But, after approximately nine months from buying the building, our new home was ready for our first service.
Since that day, our church has grown steadily. In the last six years we’ve made some necessary updates and the building has changed with us as we grow. God has faithfully used Foundations Church to love on the community and the world as a whole. We have done so many incredible events with the building that we wouldn’t have been able to do at the school. Thankfully, there were some guys who saw potential in an old church building. I saw the building for what it was, but they saw it for what it could become.
What I’ve come to realize is this is who God is. He sees the potential. Where everyone else sees people for who they are and have been, God sees them as who they can become. We may see a person who has thrown their entire life away on drugs, alcohol, sex or even fame, but God sees someone that has the potential to rescue others from the life they were living.
I’m glad God sees potential and not what we have been. If He didn’t, maybe no one would ever change. The hard part with changing to be more like the person God can see us become is the demolition that has to take place. God has to tear down the old us in order to build us back into the person we were meant to be. The demolition process is painful at times. The walls we’ve built have to come down and all the things that we thought were holding us up have to be removed. It’s hard to trust the Designer.
The transformation in our lives is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. God can change someone in an instant, but generally it is over time. He is careful to knock down only the walls we don’t need. He doesn’t force change on us, but He invites us to a better life. God has a beautiful vision of what we can become, we just have to trust Him every step of the way. We may get discouraged, resist some of the changes, but we have to trust that God’s vision is awe-inspiring and astounding.
We will never reach a point of perfection and then God walks away from us. God stick with us through every phase of our lives and helps us grow and change along the way. He helps us make the necessary updates in our lives to become even more of who He envisions us becoming. Thankfully, God sees potential in us even at our ugliest state. When everyone else sees who we are, He sees who we can become.