Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thoughts on the Saddleback Church Campus

I think that one of my biggest surprises this week has been the Saddleback Church campus. The Worship Center is totally multi-purpose. The chairs are not comfortable. They are the plastic kind that stack out of the way very easily. There is carpet that is just laid out on top of a poured concrete floor that can be removed if needed. The sound and lights are top notch, but the building itself is not all that impressive.

They have a ton of classrooms that are all modular. It looks like they just throw them up whenever they need more space. There are a couple of large tents. Now when I write tents, these things seat about 1,000 people, they have a/c and heat, they have a stage, sound system, and lights. The largest one is used by the student ministry.

They are currently building a brand new student ministry building. None of the buildings are connected. Each one has its focus. There is an incredible three story children's ministry building. Each floor has a large group worship/teaching room for different age groups - 1st floor - first and second grades, 2nd floor - third and four grades, and 3rd floor - fifth and sixth grades.

There is also an administrative building that I was told was the original worship space that has been converted to offices. I haven't been in that building. There is also a nursery building dedicated to very small children and babies.

The grounds are extremely incredible. There is a man made creek that runs along the main side walk to the worship center that is fed by a waterfall that runs between the double set of stairs that leads up to the worship center. Did they have to build this? No, but they have created an outside environment that draws people to stay and building relationships with people. There are three different baptismal pools that are beautifully designed. There are paths that are carved out of the landscape for people to walk along.

I was very surprised how far you have to walk to get from the parking lot to the worship center and other buildings. The administrative building is almost a mile from the worship center. This place is huge and they are building more with plans for more. It is obvious that the buildings that they build that they label permanent is done at the highest level of creativity and excellence. The buildings that are not permanent are cheap and serve the purpose for that time.

There is a definite strategic plan for what they are building and when they will do it. It helps them to keep their eyes focused on the main thing. The campus serves the work of making disciples of Jesus. The point isn't the campus, it's Jesus. Good, good stuff.