Minnesota's largest megachurch, Eagle Brook, is expecting to break ground on a new $25 million satellite campus in Woodbury in April.
Executive Pastor Scott Anderson confirmed the multi-million dollar expansion in an interview with The Christian Post on Monday, and said the church was just marching ahead with the mandate it received from God.
"The vision is to reach people who are far from God and introduce them to Christ… It's a continuation of what we have been doing for the last 20 years," he said.
Eagle Brook's Woodbury church opened in September 2011 and has been meeting at the East Ridge High School in the area since then. The location is Eagle Brook's fifth location. Attendance at services held at the location on Saturdays and Sundays currently average between 1,500 and 2,000, according to the church.
With current attendance at the megachurch totaling about 20,000 and counting with the addition of the Woodbury facility, the Hartford Institute for Religion Research ranks Eagle Brook as the eighth largest church in America.
When asked about the ranking, Anderson said: "We are not interested in rankings, we are interested in doing what God has called us to do." The Woodbury satellite has its own pastor and runs a live worship service but the main message is delivered via simulcast from Eagle Brook's Lino Lakes headquarters in the state.
An Inforum report references the non-traditional church atmosphere and design of the Eagle Brook church experience, which includes movie-theater padded seating, the use of screen displays instead of hymnals and a controversial cup-holder provision. Anderson, however, said the cup-holder discussion wasn't as big as it was being made to be.
"This cup-holder talk is way overblown," he said. "I think we are trying to do things in a way that is excellent, honors God and inspires people," he added.
According to Eagle Brook's website, in the Fall 2009, the church launched its Not Without You Campaign to add the fourth satellite, Blaine, and Woodbury was envisioned for some time in the future.
The Blaine campus opened in October 2010, and less than a year later the church followed up with Woodbury. This was the first time the church ever launched a satellite without an actual building. The first weekend they held services at the East Ridge High School, more than 1,600 people showed up.
When asked about a recent report that highlighted that some megachurch pastors were running their churches like CEOs, Anderson said he sees satellite pastors in the Eagle Brook culture as "campus leaders" and not like managers. While they don't preach the main message, he says, they take care of the needs of the church community.
"Their (satellite pastors) job is to maintain all the other pieces of the [satellite] church. We're just trying to reach people in our community and we believe that healthy things grow," said Anderson.