Tennessee Church to Build 'Ministry Mall' as One-Stop Community Outreach Center

Friendship Community Church in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., plans to expand their community outreach efforts through their anticipated Impact Center that will serve as a one-stop locale for resources and "hope" for its area residents.

"When people want pizza, they think of Domino's. When they want electronics, they think Best Buy. Our hope is that in the same way, when people in our community are in need of hope or healing that their first thought will be, 'I bet the Impact Center has something that can help me,'" Pastor Todd Stevens said. 

The center which Stevens has deemed as a "ministry mall" will be a multipurpose, 35,000-square-foot building that will sit on 15 acres of land that will become the first of its kind in Tennessee once construction is complete.

"If a person needs help with their marriage, then there will be counseling and classes available.  If they're not sure how to put food on the table for their family, they'll know that the Impact Center will provide them with groceries," Stevens said. "Whether they're struggling with addiction, finances, depression, or how to be a great parent, the Impact Center will be a place where people can connect with God's love in a practical way with no strings attached."

Friendship Community, a church that has grown from 30 to nearly 1,000 members in seven years, already focuses on outreach through various efforts including food, gas and school supply giveaways to free child care and oil changes, to a giving love and support to Nashville area strippers.

However, Stevens' vision to have a larger impact in their surrounding community began after Nashville was inundated by a flood in 2010 that killed several, causing over $2 billion in damages.

At the time, Friendship Community was holding services at a local school and had recently begun renting a small facility for offices and teen group meetings during the week. That same facility was also used to store supplies that the church's friends and partnering congregations had shipped in from across the country for flood victims.

"After the flood, we realized that we could have never responded so effectively had we not had this facility. That woke us up to the fact that there were some needs in our community that we could never meet or couldn't meet at the level that was needed, until we had a permanent facility dedicated to that purpose," Stevens said. 

His vision for the Impact Center is no surprise as Stevens says Friendship Community was built to be a place where "people with broken lives can bump into God" and where community relations is key.

"Probably the most unique thing about Friendship is the culture of serving. Over 90 percent of our regular attenders are engaged in regular opportunities to serve on Sunday morning and beyond.  The norm here is that everybody serves, and God uses us all working together to make an impact," Stevens said. 

In addition to the services that the Impact Center will make available, Stevens plans to provide a disaster relief shelter as well as a respite ministry for parents with special needs kids, and will include an indoor playground where families can connect during the week.

Construction for the facility will begin next year with an anticipated opening date of spring 2015.

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