“We fundamentally believe the church is called to be a blessing.” These are the words of Derek Adye, Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church in Falls Church, VA. Last week, we shared how PCI built a combination permanent/portable solution for Grace when they moved into George Mason High School. Their purpose for outfitting the school with new, permanent equipment was to achieve their church vision to bless the community they become a part of.
At PCI, we have worked with a number of churches that rent from schools. While schools time and time again prove to be one of the best portable venues because of the vast number of resources the facility offers, at the same time, schools are protective of their resources. Teachers, administrators and custodians often have had bad experiences with churches and other organizations that have rented from them in the past. This leads to mistrust.
Grace learned early on that they would bump into some less-than-thrilled school staff, who would be wary of how the facility and its supplies and equipment would be treated over time. One day, PCI consultant Tim Boyer along with Derek, pastor John Slye, Jr. and others, stopped by the school for a tour with a city official. The auditorium wasn’t empty – students and a key staff member of the school were working inside. Introductions were made. When the staff member found out who they were and that they’d be using the auditorium on Sundays, he gruffly relayed that they were unlikely to be able to meet regularly due to things happening with the school on many weekends.
Tim calmly responded that he understood the hesitations and wondered if the man had any questions. After replying that he was frustrated and felt he had no support, Tim said, “This church is here to be a blessing and, sincerely, we want to know how we can be a blessing to you. What are your needs here?”
The response was remarkable. He loosened up and said, “This is amazing!” Over the next few minutes, he relayed what he believed the school needed.
Derek watched this shift in disposition take place. “He was blown away. I’ve been meeting in school environments for 15 years. This is our third. I’ve never had such a quick turnaround in my life, from distrust and frustration to someone being excited about us being there.”
This was a defining point in the relationship between Grace Community Church and George Mason H.S. The staff member was thrilled to see the installation of a new screen, lights, speakers and other equipment that greatly improved the quality of school productions and other functions – all things he’d explained were the essential needs.
Part of Grace’s unique vision is to have major impact in the Washington, D.C. area. Their motto is “a church for people who don’t go to church,” and they believe they are a conduit for people to have a new perspective on church and meeting God. The new campus at George Mason H.S. assists the local school, provides the best worship experience for Grace and is designed with Grace’s volunteers in mind.
Nowadays, Grace is also helping families facing eviction, providing summer school scholarships to students and assisting with coat and shoe drives. In other words, blessings to the school and community.
Derek believes being portable helps them achieve their vision. “The church is supposed to be a movement, so being portable by definition is moving… What we love about being portable is that it almost forces you into a relationship. When you’re in a school, or a movie theater, it’s the best. You get the social work right there; you find out what the needs are.”