McCORDSVILLE — Every week at Outlook Christian Church, children’s worship happens at the end of a hallway. Some children’s instruction happens in a modular classroom next to the building. And other youths board a bus for a two-mile ride to a youth-oriented service meeting off site just over the Hancock-Marion county line.
Beams and panels coming together at the north end of the building, however, represent a change coming. They bear Bible verses and prayers inscribed by members of the church, who have come together for a 25,000-square-foot project that will expand space available for children and youth.
Sarah Herman, 15, is one of the youth who attends a 10:15 a.m. service at the Fire Escape, a former fire station in Oaklandon that the church renovated into a student center in the early 2000s. It was two blocks from the church at its former site, but it’s two miles from the current building.
Herman has heard about the stage area for youth worship and the living room-like areas for hanging out that will be part of the addition. The Mt. Vernon High School sophomore anticipates feeling more a part of what’s going on at Outlook when the youth service is brought onsite.
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“It’s really nice that we’re going to have our own space,” she said.
Student minister Mitch Young also sees benefits of the move for the youth, such as expanded opportunities for them to serve at church and more opportunities for him to interact with parents.
“Student ministry is about discipling students, but it also requires the equipping and supporting of parents as well. While emails, texting and social media are great, nothing beats the consistent, intentional face-to-face relationships (the addition) will enable between students, sponsors and parents,” he wrote in an email. “Finally, the move will make mentoring relationships and opportunities to serve our communities more viable because of the increased intergenerational engagement between parents, students and children.”
Rob McCord, senior minister, said Outlook has always been a multigenerational congregation, one that’s experiencing growth in each age segment, but this addition is children and youth-focused.
“Kids and students are a huge priority for us,” McCord said. “We have a strong belief and ethic about passing our faith in Jesus on to the next generation — always a worthy investment.”
McCord has been part of the church’s staff since 2003 and became senior minister in 2008. He says it was a huge leap of faith when the former Oaklandon Christian Church moved the next year from its seven-acre site to 50 acres south of McCordsville, but church members wanted to reach more of the community.
Though the new site was larger, the 2009 move also transitioned the church into a smaller building — a 29,000-square-foot structure, compared to the 42,000 square feet in which it had previously worshiped.
The fit became even tighter with an increase in attendance that followed the move. Before, Sunday morning attendance averaged 500. Now more than 900 people attend one of the three morning services.
Around 2012, the church began considering designs for an addition. The church broke ground on the addition in September 2015 and hopes to open it by summer.
The church will use $650,000 from the sale of its former campus to help finance the project, which carries a price tag of nearly $3 million. Additional funds will come from a giving initiative, Lives Built Here, in which members pledged amounts they would give for three years aside from their usual offerings.
The pledges’ potential impact stretches far beyond McCordsville; 10 percent of the pledged money received will go to help a school in Nairobi, Kenya, build a new, permanent structure.
Joe Mitchell, church administrator, said a lot of re-purposing goes on at the building. The congregation worships on Sunday mornings in a gymnasium, one that houses sports leagues the other days of the week.
Classrooms that house preschoolers or children in before- and after-school care often become the site of adult classes in the evenings. The church also serves as the Indianapolis extension site for Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University, offering a master of arts in Christian ministry.
Though the addition itself is focused on children’s and youth programming, its construction allows for some rearranging meant to benefit the church as a whole. A nursery and two classrooms will move into the addition, making room for an expanded commons area and less congestion while mingling before or after services.
The project also includes construction of an additional entrance/exit onto Mt. Comfort Road (County Road 600W).
McCord said all the changes serve an overall ethic of the church: More room to welcome more people. Over the years, it’s been satisfying to see that growth happen, not only in numbers but even more in individuals.
“It’s been fulfilling to see people baptized and make decisions for Jesus,” McCord said. “To see that growth continue — it’s very, very fun.”