An Audacious Vision for a Transformational Church
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
While attending Fuller Seminary in 2000, Pastor Peter learned the profound truth - exemplified by Jesus’ very life and ministry - that God’s grace is most powerfully at work in our weakness and brokenness. This revelation was the initial spark that ignited Metro Community Church.
Peter imagined a place where people from all walks of life could come, be free to be themselves (scars and all), and experience deep, authentic community with other imperfect people. Peter wondered how God would use such a community to demonstrate His perfect power in the lives of people, communities, and the culture itself.
Thus, the vision for Metro Community Church was born.
With a core group of just 11 people, Pastor Peter launched the first “preview” service in January 2004. Despite a heavy and debilitating snowstorm the night before, God defied all expectations (especially Peter’s) and brought sixty-seven people to the service! Peter vividly remembers God’s promise to him that day:
As long as the church remained faithful to His vision, He would bring people to the church.
Metro Community Church officially launched on April 4, 2004. Every Sunday since then, Pastor Peter and the pastoral team have been teaching from God’s Word and sharing personal failures, struggles, pains, and weaknesses from the pulpit. For many people, it is an unusual but refreshing experience to hear a pastor openly confess their sins and brokenness, and this empowers many people to open up about their own struggles.
The result is that we have an authentic, engaged, and growing community that is now ready for the next stage in its evolution. From the beginning, the goal of the church was transformation, as embodied in our vision statement, “To foster life transformation through community shaped by God, people, and the culture.” We believe that a core component of our next phase as a church body is to not only to foster transformation of our existing community of believers but to foster transformation within the Englewood community. A dedicated permanent building is central to this effort.
Why Do We Need A Building?
One of Metro’s core beliefs is that the Church is the living Body of Christ on earth and that it exists to celebrate the living God, to cultivate personal growth in Christ, to love one another in Christ, and to communicate Christ to the world through words and deeds. While recognizing that a church is made up of people rather than a building, we feel that by having a permanent location, we will be better positioned to live out this belief. The new facility will help us grow, reach more people, better fulfill our mission, and serve existing members as well as non-member Englewood residents who will benefit from our programs.
A permanent home would help us better:
Fulfill Our Mission
Metro’s vision has always been community-focused (hence “community” church), and as such, we believe that God’s desire for us is to own a community-focused center that is also used for our church services and ministries. Indeed, our mission is “to be relevant to the unchurched and to bring them into an authentic relationship with Jesus and the community, growing together into the reflection of Jesus Christ and passionately responding to the needs of the hurting.” We firmly believe that God has specifically placed us in Englewood - a town that has never had a community center - for this very purpose, and are thrilled that we officially launched Metro Community Center as a non-profit organization even prior to having a physical location.
Serve Our Church Family
Currently Metro has two locations that we regularly use: our office space during the week and Grieco Elementary School for Sunday services. We also frequently “borrow” or rent out additional space for programs we otherwise can’t accommodate.
Quite simply, in order to effectively serve even our existing congregation, we need more space.
Our office space is too small for us to do all the ministry that we want to do as a church. Oftentimes we have to tell our leaders and pastors that they cannot meet at the office because we simply do not have any room. Moreover, if there are events that would attract more than 40 or 50 people, our office is not an option as it cannot comfortably hold more than that.
Our space for Sunday services is also maxed out. We are at 95% capacity during second service, which, according to church growth experts, means that visitors who may desire to attend our church might not do so due to limited seating - thus stunting our growth and ability to reach more people.
We have no space for our high school youth to meet as a unified group. This means that they are not creating the strong sense of community they need at this transitional time in their lives. Moreover, the joint high school/middle school monthly service is standing room only, and there is no room for these teens to invite friends or family, further impeding their ability to fully grow in and enjoy a sense of community and fellowship.
Finally, we are at capacity in our MetroKids, MetroTots, and MetroNursery, all of which are growing ministries.
Having a larger and more flexible facility would provide more space, thus maximizing our Sunday worship experience in a way that is more conducive to the unchurched meeting Jesus and to our members deepening their relationship with God and one another. In addition, a dedicated building would allow us to multiply the quantity and quality of discipleship programs and ministries available at Metro.
Serve the Englewood Community
In many ways, Englewood is the tale of two cities – on the one hand, the East Hill boasts some of the county’s wealthiest and most famous residents. On the other hand, large pockets of extreme poverty exist within Englewood’s borders. Though Englewood is ethnically diverse, many residents live in ethnically homogenous neighborhoods and its public schools are majority-minority. God has called Metro to Englewood – to learn and grow, model reconciliation, offer support and services, and, alongside its residents, unlock the city’s potential.
The possibilities in Englewood are limitless. It has a thriving downtown, world-class performance arts center, many local entrepreneurs, and a diverse community that mirrors the kingdom of God - yet there’s so much untapped promise. Where the world sees at-risk and high need, we see opportunities for God to work through us to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters. With Metro’s help, we can decrease the poverty rate in Englewood, where 25% of households make less than $25,000 per year – which is true poverty in light of the high cost of living in Bergen County. We can improve the quality of life for the 49% of middle school students who qualify for free or reduced lunch (meaning that their family income level is below $15,000 per year).
Metro also hopes to increase educational opportunities and outcomes for Englewood’s youth. Academic scores illustrate students’ need for encouragement, support, and resources:
- In 2016, 13% of Englewood middle school (Janis E. Dismus Middle School) 8th grades students met or exceeded the proficiency standard in math – compared with 43% of NJ 8th grade students overall.
- In that same year, 39% met or exceeded the proficiency standard in English Language Arts – compared with 53% of 8th grade students statewide.
Though current academic scores look bleak, we know that God has particularly equipped the Metro community to help Englewood’s youth realize God’s plan for their lives, hone their God-given gifts, and reach their full academic potential. With no current community center in existence and very little out-of-school programming available, it is no wonder youth become idle, lack academic motivation, and make poor choices. Unfortunately, Englewood sends the highest number of teens to juvenile detention centers of all the towns in Bergen County.
We know God wants more for these children. We want to work alongside God as He transforms Englewood. Our facility will provide a place of learning, growth, opportunity, safety, and fun. And rather than “fix” the residents of Englewood, we know that God will draw us closer to Him as we build lasting relationships with our Englewood neighbors.
Even without a dedicated facility, Metro Community Center has already made an undeniable impact in Englewood, providing services such as ‘MetroLIFE,’ a personally tailored mentoring and guidance program for Englewood teens; the MCC Youth Basketball League; Englewood Summer Arts Camp; as well as other various life-training classes, such as computer fundamentals. And this is only the beginning. Metro Community Center continues to partner and build relationships with local organizations to help Englewood thrive.
To date, all but one of fifteen MetroLIFE students have graduated on time and created a life plan for post-secondary living to include either college or trade school enrollment or full-time employment.
By establishing permanent roots in Englewood, Metro Community Center hopes to further increase its impact by:
- Establishing a positive 24/7 presence in the community.
- Being better positioned and resourced to serve the vulnerable with sustainable compassionate and justice initiatives.
- Expanding program offerings for Englewood residents that substantially increase educational outcomes, improve employability, enhance quality of life, and reduce likelihood of juvenile crime and incarceration, all while fostering deeper relationships within the community.
Support Church Growth
Since its founding in 2004, Metro has already outgrown four locations, and we are bursting at the seams at our current weekly worship location with approximately 500 adults and 300 children on any given Sunday.
With a new facility, we anticipate being able to accommodate an additional 150 Englewood residents and 250 additional people from the surrounding towns, bringing the message of Jesus’ love to over 1,000 people weekly in northern New Jersey and the surrounding region.
Looking back to God’s promise to Pastor Peter in 2004, it is absolutely clear that God has kept his end of the bargain in bringing people to our church - now we need to make sure that we continue to keep our end - to remain faithful to His vision.
How Metro Community Center will be Used
We envision the proposed 40,000 square foot facility as a beacon of hope and the center of a community of believers and those we serve. We want Metro Community Center to be the place people go to for hope and healing; the place they think of first at transitional moments and times of greatest need. The Center should be accessible every day, and fully utilized for the purpose of reaching more people for Jesus Christ. We pray that for every interaction, every person who comes through the Center’s doors is met with love, faith, grace, spiritual intentionality and the sense of belonging to a very special, welcoming community.
With a multi-purpose room, a gym, classrooms, and transformable spaces, the Center will be designed to allow for:
- Flexible space where we can host larger groups for worship service, special programs, performances, conferences and other events.
- Dedicated spaces for various ministries.
- Safe spaces and facilities to accommodate at least 50 families with special needs who will regularly attend Sunday services.
- A place our youth can call their own.
- A permanent home and program expansion for 50 high school mentees.
- Academic support for middle and high school students.
- A gym for sports and recreation programs.
- Expansion of the youth basketball program to serve 300 youth and to include coaching.
- The expansion of the Summer Arts Program to serve 300 children annually.
- The creation of music and digital arts programs.
- Classroom space to allow for at least 12 foundational courses for 250 new and growing disciples.
- At least 20 weekly classes and workshops to meet the relevant community needs for over 500 people.
- The provision of available space for other community uses on an as-needed basis.
Our Goal for the Campaign
Finding and preparing a facility that will allow us to bring this vision to life is a God-sized assignment that is daunting from our human perspective. But we believe that where God guides, He also provides.
While we do not have a specific building or property in mind, we are actively searching and trust that God will provide a space for us, and estimate that the cost for purchasing a site and doing the necessary construction or renovations will cost in the range of $10 million. In order to pay for the cost, we will require a mortgage for which we already have a loan guarantee from our denomination, The Evangelical Covenant Church. We can access that guarantee once we accumulate a 20% down payment. In line with our generally conservative approach to fiscal management, we are thus seeking to raise 25% (5% more than required), or $2.5M, by June of 2021.
This will involve courageous faith and sacrificial giving on the part of anyone who believes in the vision and values of our church and everyone who calls Metro their spiritual home. We know that in cooperation with our amazing God, this will be possible!
We hope you join us on this next important journey of Metro Community Church.