Big changes are coming to Durham’s World Overcomers Christian Church – again. The church, which began in 2003 with fewer than a dozen people, now has more than 7,000 and is bursting at the seams in its services. So this coming Sunday will mark a major expansion.
"It's really us going from approximately 50,000 square feet to over 100,000 square feet of space,” says World Overcomers Senior Pastor and founder, Andy Thompson. “When we moved here (to our current location), we went from a sanctuary that sat about 400 to a sanctuary that seats about 1,400. And we started with just two services. But within a year, we were at three services again."
The church is currently worshiping in space it leases at a business park on S. Miami Boulevard. “Pastor Andy,” as he’s known, told me the original plan to deal with the growth was a traditional one: buy land and build a new sanctuary, or buy an existing large building and renovate it to accommodate the crowds. But then the recession hit, money got tight, and a new idea emerged – why not just continue leasing, but in a much larger space?
Photo courtesy World Overcomers Church
"It has caused me to re-evaluate my definition of what it means to be a church,” he says. “Am I really called to be in the land real estate development business? Is that what I'm supposed to be doing? Is that the most effective use of the church's resources? Do we really want to put all of our eggs in one basket -- multiplied millions of dollars in one building, or would it be smarter for us to lease the space? Then we can put development dollars more into the community."
He told me one building they had their eyes on would’ve cost more than $20 million dollars to renovate and still may not have been large enough. But moving into contiguous space next door will cost only a fraction of that and will provide room to seat 3,000 people. Additionally, World Overcomers will greatly expand its youth facilities, adding a full gymnasium and a rock climbing wall.
“My youth ministry has just exploded,” Thompson says. “I've got a really dynamic youth pastor over here and I'm probably averaging 500 teenagers."
This coming Sunday’s services will be a “soft opening” for the new facilities, with an official dedication coming in February or March. Pastor Andy credits God for his church’s rapid expansion – plus years of hard work and planning.
“I've been in the ministry since I was 15 years old. I'm 43. I've been preaching for 27 years. I've spent 20 years helping other people in their ministries, so I'm not a novice. When I came here (to Durham), I knew what I wanted to do. I had a strong idea of what worked what didn't work."
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