In an editorial interview with Worship Facilities Magazine Bill Chegwidden, founding principal of CDH Partners, explains how building the right facility can create strong community connections and help a church congregation grow.
In 1999, Pastor Gene Wolfenbarger had a vision of the church he would lead in Sevierville, Tenn., a tourism-driven town nestled against the Great Smoky Mountains. The vision was from Ezekiel 28:25, “… for I will gather them from the distant lands,” and the church would be called “The Gathering.”
Since then, Pastor Gene, as he prefers to be called, has seen The Gathering grow into a regional body of worship, and has been blessed with the people and the tools to share a message of healing and hope with distant nations and local residents. One of those tools is The Gathering’s home base in Sevierville, a place where outdoor and indoor have converged to celebrate God’s creation, making it conducive to human, environmental and spiritual connection. But prior to the facility’s completion in April 2009, The Gathering was meeting in a former fitness center and holding five weekend services. “The Gathering needed a place where people could interact, a place where the children weren’t cramped, and where transition between services wasn’t chaos due to lack of space,” says Wolfenbarger.
Over the years The Gathering acquired nearly 50 acres in a growing area of Sevierville, and in 2007 began “The Great Investment” with the help of Dallas area capital campaign consultant The Gage Group. This campaign, which is ongoing, allows donors to advance through five categories (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond) based on the number of times they have pledged, not the overall amount given. To date, the church has raised $4 million and, in March 2007, was able to break ground on a 42,000-square-foot, $11.3-million, state-of-the-art facility. Continue Reading