Megachurch Collects $1M to Stay in Former K-Mart, 'Promised Land'

A Vancouver, Wash., church that quickly needed $1 million in order to stay in a former K-Mart building received the money through donations one week ahead of closing its 40-day fundraising campaign, said its pastor.

Living Hope Church Pastor John Bishop, who wrote the book Dangerous Church, which is primarily about the risk-taking culture of his congregation, began the campaign a month ago. He not only asked the church’s 6,000 members to give to the fund, but other churches as well.

The church had to move from a former Mervyns mall store late last year after the property was bought by a movie theater company, Bishop told The Christian Post. He said the church was teetering on the possibility of being the "first homeless megachurch in the nation."

However, since then, the church has been housed in the former K-Mart building “on a handshake” (without a lease agreement) for the first five months, and now on a purchase agreement that was due to expire this month, Bishop said.

The owner of the former K-Mart property had asked Bishop a couple months ago what the church’s “transition plan” would be considering the church would more than likely be unable to come up with enough money to purchase the building.

It was at that point that Bishop initiated a 40-day campaign to come up with the money needed to supplement the $4 million previously collected by the church to buy the building.

"I had no 'Plan B,'" he said. "I have said from day one that this was our Promised Land."

Initially, he did not want to ask churches for help, but after struggling with the decision he went ahead with a church-to-church fundraising campaign as well.

“Churches gave as far away as Australia and Finland and as close as right down the street. One church named Citipointe, who is struggling and in between pastors felt led to give $5,000 which was super sacrificial,” Bishop said.

In a time of economic crisis, members of the church and community were still able to donate to the fund. The church is in a neighborhood that includes the highest crime rate and number of homeless people in the city.

“One couple in our church gave their rental property to the church. It was a duplex that we were able to sell within seven days for $100,000,” he said. “Someone else gave $50,000 worth of rare gold coins.

“One girl did a garage sale and raised like $80 and another family who had been saving for a trip to Disneyland decided at the request of their kids to give the $800 in coins to the church. Someone gave a motorcycle and two people gave cars,” Bishop said.

Living Hope was listed as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation by Outreach Magazine in 2007 and has also been named one of the most influential. Bucking a current trend, Bishop is moving away from the multisite model to a centralized one. At one point, prior to the transition, 19 church services were offered at multiple locations.

In the introduction to Dangerous Church, it states that “the book is less about methods or even the message of God, but about a church (Living Hope) that risks everything it has to reach lost people. A dangerous church sees what 'only God' can do when it acts upon what the church is supposed to be. It risks everything to reach people.”

Bishop said that the real story about how the funds were raised to keep the property is the collection of individual stories of how people sacrificially gave money.

“There was one man who because of the change in his son-in-law at Living Hope invested a large amount,” he said. “I believe that we have seen and are continuing to see an outpouring of generosity in our church that is simply unprecedented. They have owned the vision to the point of sacrifice.”

“I believe where God guides he always provides,” Bishop said. “From day one we knew we would be in the Promised Land. What we didn't know was how God would make it happen.”

“It was never about the amount [of money], but always about the heart. I got to see that with my own eyes,” he added.

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