So, you might have already heard the good news if you were with us on Sunday.
If you haven’t – then take a big sip of water (or whatever beverage you might have close by).
We have accepted an offer on the land.
Yup. Now take a moment to clean up whatever you just spat all over your computer, smartphone or tablet and let me explain just what that means.
Many of you will recall in 2015 we underwent a discernment process to figure out what the next steps were for The Bridge Church, and how those next steps would help us deal with a significant financial shortfall. In the same year, we also received a notice of assessment from the City of Winnipeg on our land that put us in a precarious predicament. We sought the Lord to discern the first one, and we appealed the assessment to deal with the second problem but the net result of both processes was the same. We needed to sell the approximately 10.5 acres of unused land that is adjacent to our utilized church property.
At the end of the discernment process the board of elders sought permission from the congregation to put the land up for sale and in October of 2015 we did just that. In doing so, we warned you all that the sale of a parcel like ours would be a long process and that we shouldn’t expect anything to happen quickly – and true to our word, it didn’t.
Time passed and not much happened. We renewed our sale listing, broke the land into two parcels for easier marketing, and continued to pray that God would bring someone our way to purchase our land at a fair price. Well earlier this spring he did just that.
For the past few months Tim Brown and myself have been engaged in negotiations with a buyer who wants our land for continued residential development of the Oaks. Tim and I were appointed by the board to act as agents for the church in this manner and when the offer became substantive enough and serious enough to merit real consideration we brought what we believed to be a good offer to the rest of the board of elders and then the elders as a group committed to a week of discerning prayer to tease out what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us about this offer. After a week of listening and pondering the board each reported back individually to me what they heard from God about this opportunity – and with unsurprising unanimity – it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit that we should move forward.
At this point we made a recommendation to the District Superintendent that we sign the offer and enter into a purchase agreement with this buyer (remembering that the District technically holds title to the land, not the church) and the D.S. agreed with us and after some legal back and forth on the wording of the contract we now are party to a signed purchase agreement for our land at a value of $240,000/acre – or approximately 2.4 million dollars pending a proper land survey to determine the exact size of the parcel.
Now obviously, this is an answer to prayer and cause for significant hope. But much like our sermon this past Sunday we have hope – but we are not out of the woods yet. Commercial real-estate, and transactions of this size are not as simple as when you may have sold your home in the past. There are several hurdles that need to be overcome in the next year. The deal is subject to a number of reasonable conditions by the buyer. Environmental survey, subdivision, rezoning and the like. We are confident (as are the buyers who are footing the bill for these processes) that it is just a matter of time and bureaucracy to get this done. But be warned ahead of time – this process could still (and likely will) drag on for another year, in fact the possibility still exists that the deal could fall apart entirely if the conditions cannot be met. So as you will hear more about this coming Sunday – the work of intercession for this has not ended – it has only really just begun.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we need to resist the natural human response to feel like this makes us rich. 2.4 million feels like a lot of money when it may represent more than a quarter century of your household income, but it is not as much as you might think. Moreover, we have agreed with the District to not use those monies for ongoing operating expenses as budgeting out of a diminishing reserve is ALWAYS bad policy. Rather these monies will be set aside for capital improvements (i.e. building, land, equipment) and multiplication ventures (i.e. external missional activity). Our operational benefit will come from the property tax savings (greater than $15,000/year) going forward after the deal is done.
So be encouraged. Be excited. Throw a “SOLD” party and invite your friends. But don’t stop praying. As a component of our corporate prayer service on June 4th we will be spending time giving you some more insight into how you can be specifically praying for the success of this transaction. But until then, rejoice because we have hope.
Smiling along with you,