Peoples Church (PC) launched their latest expansion project early this May. The Believe More Than Ever project, dreamed up in late 2013, is a three-year, $18 million, plan for constructing two new buildings, moving the GL Johnson Chapel, and refreshing the 45-acre campus.
Peoples Church, founded in 1954, held its first service at Cedar and Herndon 40 years ago. Over the next 28 years, six more buildings were added. However, a dedicated children’s building has yet to be constructed, which is one of the main problems the Believe project aims to solve.
In a video addressing the church, lead pastor Dale Oquist says that PC’s mission statement of “Helping people see God and participate in His redemptive story” is the driving reason behind the project. Oquist says the project is designed to increase the church’s impact in Fresno.
In addition to solving problems with the kids ministry, Peoples Church COO Brad Liebe says that the Believe More Than Ever project will increase attendance across the church.
“Long-term, we would expect not only to see our children’s ministries grow massively,” Liebe said. “We expect to see that, we believe that could even double in this window of time, which is already a very large children’s ministries. But really, as exciting as that is, and to take nothing away from that, it’s to see children learn about Jesus, to see children discipled and to see children have that foundational element to their life – in today’s world, children bring their parents.”
“We’re not actually just focusing on the children’s building,” Liebe continued. “We’re actually beginning all of the work internally of working on our adult ministries, our volunteer-led ministries, because when children come, you’re going to have these families with them. This isn’t being done, we’re not doing this project, we’re not raising these funds, we’re not building these buildings to have prettier buildings or even to face Cedar. We’re doing this because we really believe this can expand the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”
FCS Superintendent Jeremy Brown has attended Peoples Church for 25 years and serves on their board. Brown fully supports the building project, and says he appreciates the importance the church places on kids.
“People naturally pour into their kids; they love their kids,” Brown said. “So what Peoples Church now is making children even more a priority at Peoples Church. And you can’t just say ‘we love children’, you need to visually make a difference.”
“There’s wonderful churches all over our city, fabulous churches,” Brown continued. “We are so blessed as a community. But to have 700,000 people unchurched that don’t know Jesus is unacceptable. So the Church, meaning the big Church of Jesus Christ, needs to start taking steps forward, and with that is making a premium children’s building and project, because that speaks to the world, ‘we value children.’ And guess what, so does Christ.”
Many FCS students appreciate the value Peoples Church places on children. Samantha Portale, ’21, who serves on the student leadership team in PC student ministry, says making kids a priority is important because children represent the future.
“I think its good that Peoples Church values children because they are eventually going to be the ones running the world in the future and empowering people,” Portale said. “So I think its good that they are strongly supporting children for the future.”
After prayer and reviewing construction plans with focus groups, Pastor Oquist decided to launch a capital campaign. Over three years, Peoples Church plans to raise $18 million in addition to expected giving. Liebe explains why a capital campaign was a better option than borrowing the money.
“The most significant reason that we do a capital campaign is that the congregation can be part of it–the faith family can be part of it,” Liebe said. “This isn’t just something our church or something ‘they’ are doing, but this is something I’m part of and I’m doing. And to date, we’ve seen unbelievable excitement that has way surpassed what we had even hoped for.”
Adults are not the only church members with the opportunity to give. Peoples Church attender Andrew Moore, ’21, pledged to give for the next three years. He views giving not as a burden but as chance to advance God’s Kingdom.
“It wasn’t hard to donate because of my upbringing in the church, so any opportunity to give back was an easy choice,” Moore
said. “The reason for me supporting the Believe Project is because it will open up more opportunities and create family-like environments. This in turn can lead to the church growing both physically and spiritually.”
For updates on the Believe Project, visit PC’s Believe more than ever website.
For more articles on Peoples Church activities, read BreakAway X provides students opportunity to serve, worship. For more articles, read Campus activities come to an end.
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