The committee has met four times. At the first organizational meeting, we initiated discussions so that at the second, third and forth meetings, we were able to set schedules for interviews and divide fact-gathering tasks.
I. Community Population Growth Projections
The City Manager of Lorena and the President of the Lorena Chamber of Commerce were contacted for information. Both referred us to Jason Mundo of Mundo and Associates who is a consultant for the city that provides all information for the city Economic Development unit.
Mundo projects that the east side of Lorena (3-mile radius) is expected to grow from the current 1700 citizens to at least 5000 citizens in the next 5 to 10 years. Approximately 600 new houses are expected to be built east of I 35 with a subdivision of 200 homes already begun on Rosenthal Parkway and Birdie Lane. Lorena received a grant for the expansion of sewer and water service to the east side of I 35 and is, or expects to, annex an area on that side of the highway. The area is not in Waco ETJ. In addition, on the west side of Lorena, the Westbrook subdivision has about 30 new homes all already occupied. Additional subdivisions are being developed on Pilgrim Lane at Old Lorena Road and on Southern View.
We have met with Tom Howe, director of BGCT Church Planting for a review of growth projections for our area. He provided a wealth of information on projected growth, demographics of the growth population and suggestions of target ministries. Since he provided about 30 pages of charts and tables we are still working through the data.
We have contact the Lorena Administration Office for school projections. The latest projections were in 2020 and perhaps low. The 2020 projections predicted a 34 percent increase in school attendance in the next 10 years from about 1751 to 2339, a 34% increase.
II. Current Facilities Survey
Sanctuary - We have 33 pews. At 8 people per pew, we can seat approximately 266 worshipers. In 2019, we had our highest attendance of 259 (Easter.) We are currently running between 146 to 192 each week.
Bible Study Rooms - We have 11 rooms downstairs – 7 are currently used for Adult Sunday School, 3-4 for Children. We have 12 rooms upstairs - 3 being used for adult classes, I for children, and 4 for storage. We have a separate building for Students.
Average attendance 2020-2021 for in person meetings: Adults (10 classes) between 70 and 94; Children (4 classes) 17; Students (4 classes) 10.
III. Projected Needs
We have reviewed and continue to consider the previous PlanNorth document for ideas. We wish to honor the work of a prior Vision committee and avoid repeating the work that has already been done.
Sanctuary – Preliminary assessment is that the sanctuary is adequate for the 5 to 10 years future
projections. If necessary, we can go to two services and/or use the Fellowship Hall with screens for large (Easter) overflow.
Bible Study Facilities –Whether we will have adequate facilities for the next 5 to 10 years is being
considered, even if we fully utilize the upstairs rooms. However, to access the second story rooms we will need an elevator. This appears to be a priority as all the adult Sunday School rooms on the ground floor are currently in use or needed for Children ministry, with no room for expansion downstairs. (There are currently 2 rooms downstairs being utilized by Shepherd’s Heart food pantry). Several of the upstairs rooms currently used for storage can be consolidated to make rooms available for ministry. Needs for Youth ministry facilities are still under study. We will consider other options, such as temporary use of Fellowship Hall and establishment of home meeting Life Groups as some other churches are doing.
IV. Future New Remodeling and Buildings
Needs, size, projected cost and financing are being considered.
Converting the foyer to a true Welcome Center (foyer) is considered an important remodeling project. We have been told that an adequate Welcome Center where people can get to know the church and each other is vital for church growth and retention of members. A Barna Survey found that if regular visitors do not make at least three good friends in the first year of attendance, they will leave. Attractive Bible Study (SS) groups are very important for this but do not reach everyone. Such social interactions in a Welcome Center also facilitate follow-up and outreach to new residents of the community.
Pat Ekern, Consultant Architect for BGCT is scheduled for a site visit in August to help the committee assess needs and options for placement of an elevator, remodeling ( as in a Welcome Center), new buildings and the like.
In August, we also plan to discuss vision, needs and the relationship of Shepherd’s Heart, 501c3 Corporation with FBC Lorena .
We have also had one on-site meetings with an elevator provider for recommendations and cost projections.
We plan to a get estimates on with the possibility of and construction advice (and estimated costs) for new building(s).
Once we have gathered the information as outlined above, we can begin making more detailed project plans, obtain cost estimates, and explore financing options (i.e., fundraising Capital campaign, pay as you go, or loans).
We will also consider (through interviews) what new ministries we may expect in the next 5 to 10 years, and what potential facilities they may require.