(Photo: Willow Creek Association)
The new campus of LifeChurch.tv in Wellington, Fla., cost $6 million and yet it is under no financial strain thanks to the megachurch's members from across the country who showed "irrational generosity" in the face of a bad economy.
About 700 people will attend the third worship service on Sunday at the new 32,500-square-foot campus on State Road 7 south of The Mall at Wellington Green. As Oklahoma-based LifeChurch.tv's founder and Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel delivers a sermon via satellite, there won't be any appeals for funds for the new facility.
The megachurch, known for its innovative ways of reaching out to people, draws about 40,000 attendees across the country and they responded to Groeschel's call for donations during previous weeks.
"We will do anything short of sin to reach people who do not know Christ," The Palm Beach Post quoted Groeschel as saying. The attendees, who hear Groeschel's sermon each Sunday by satellite in 14 locations in five states, not only share his vision but also put their money where their mouth is.
"We just stand in awe," said Larry Mayer, the local campus pastor. "Craig says we're going to build in Wellington and people have given very generously in this bad economy. We're talking irrational generosity."
Mayer said the church targets "people who either quit on church or who have never been to church before." It is estimated that over 80 percent of residents in the western communities do not go to church. "I tell people, now is the time to get involved because we're on the ground floor of something big."
For the opening of LifeChurch.tv's only campus in Florida on Jan. 15, about 1,300 people came. The campus has been hosting multiple services each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. since then.
LifeChurch.tv in Wellington had been meeting at Palm Beach Central High School since 2007, when it took over the existing New Community Church with Mayer as the pastor. From an average attendance of about 300 people, it has now grown to about 700.
Mayer's vision matched with that of Groeschel. "I desired to do something that was different than anyone else," Mayer said.
Since the launch of the megachurch in Oklahoma City in 1996, Pastor Groeschel has used unconventional approaches to ministry and sharing the Gospel.
The megachurch developed the YouVersion Bible app, which is available in multiple versions and numerous languages. Launched in 2008, the app has reached over 38 million downloads on mobile devices – iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and iPad – from across the globe, resulting in more than 1 billion minutes of Bible reading each month.
Last December, LifeChurch.tv hosted 100 Christmas services at its 14 campuses, and offered another 100 online.
Groeschel is also an author. His book, The Christian Atheist, is about Christians who do not always live as if God existed.
The church's website invites people, saying, "Whether you're hungry or hurt, lonely or lost, full of questions or looking for a home, there's a place for you at LifeChurch.tv."