Alex and I have spent the last two and a half days in the bowels of the University learning everything you wanted to know about development but were afraid to ask. We both feel a bit now like we wish we hadn’t. Asked that is.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t an interesting and really potentially useful couple of days. It was. I now know how to capitalise future income as a net present value and what a monte carlo simulation is but the most important outcome was the realisation that developing/redeveloping a building is a massive undertaking. If we were to get involved in developing the buildings in Somerstown for which we currently have some responsibility, it could eat up all of our time. It would then come back for seconds. Maybe even thirds. And still have room for pudding.
I suppose being involved at St Jude’s as the church prepared for its building programme should have brought me to that realisation already. The difference is that in our situation, there is not the large pool of capable people to draw on. If we were to embark on a building programme we would have to drive it forward personally.
That presents us with something of a dilemma. On the one hand there’s the obvious question about whether this is what we were licensed for. We already have a massive job on our hands helping two struggling congregations to discover their vocations, sustaining their worship and discipleship and even, hopefully, leading them into growth — yes in numbers as well as depth. Add to that our desire and vocation to see the church at the heart of the transformation of this community’s aspirations and prospects. Add to that my peculiar vocation to see the church engaged in the city centre in new ways and it all looks a bit beyond us.
On the other hand, redeveloped buildings could… could… be a vehicle for all those things.
Before I started my new role, I swore blind I wasn’t going to touch the St Luke’s building. Trouble is, it’s going to rear up and bite us both if we don’t give it some of our attention. It’s a bit of a mess!
This is part of the inevitable messiness of the dual role I suggested and then took on. A purely pioneering position might have avoided my having to deal with these issues, though that isn’t altogether certain. We’ll see how long I can avoid the question given that I am required to operate in a mixed economy that includes both opportunities for (a) new form(s) of church and related to it/them struggling tiny congregations and dilapidated buildings.