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Village Green Community Church-Changing Lives With Every Square Foot
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By Haydn Jensen

Aren't people strange? - we like growth but we also prefer what's familiar and comfortable. Any pastor or person involved in a church expansion understands that tension. The folks at Village Green Community Church do. Their building looks the same now, but in the next few months you will see some definite changes.

Village Green ministers from a modestly sized property at the corner of Wonderland and Village Green Ave, just south of Commissioners Rd. Community involvement has always been part of the DNA there. That's one thing they don't want to change.

From 1980 to 2002 the Westmount Public Library shared half of the Village Green building. In recent years, LINC classes (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) have been offered at Village Green through the Thames Valley District School Board. For the past few years, Village Green leadership participates in discussions at the Westmount Family Centre, part of a network of Family Centres being developed in neighbourhoods by London's Child and Youth Network.

Senior Pastor

Strategic Ministry Coordinator
With the lack of a designated Westmount community centre, space is often needed for family and neighbourhood service programs like prenatal and parenting classes. Village Green Church wants to be available to serve the community by providing this meeting space. For example, the church will be hosting and running a family activity night this month, but as a "Westmount Family Centre" program rather than as a church event.

They run a very popular summer day camp program as well. With a capacity of 80, registration tends to fill within a week of opening. The church also has a grocery voucher program for families under financial strain in the community. In addition, the church uses office dividers to create a makeshift office in the lobby for a settlement counsellor to help new Canadians adjust to new life in Canada. And, building space is also used for outside rentals-when available.

Village Green's Strategic Ministry Coordinator, Matt Loveday, explains that reaching out into the community like this "gets people in the door, builds relationships, and helps us say 'You're welcome here'". With these many paths all leading to the church building, perhaps it's not surprising that the congregation has grown to around 200, and with a fair amount of ethnic diversity in the congregation. Church growth experts say 200 is a difficult number for congregations to grow past for many logistical and social reasons-it's a comfortable size for a church. But, Village Green has decided that outreach trumps comfort and they are committed to move forward and engage more people in the community. Lead Pastor Dr. Jon Korkidakis clearly wants his church to have a growth mindset, both individually and as a congregation.

For Village Green, the biggest growth challenge has been to serve couples starting families and families with young children. Children and youth ministry space is approaching capacity with about 60 kids and 20 volunteers on any given Sunday. Matt Loveday says there is a lot of energy in those rooms and it's a real logistical challenge to keep kids listening, happy, and learning when classroom space is cramped. Over the next 5-10 years, the church won't have enough space.

So, Village Green's next step: a 2,000 square foot addition to the building, upgraded heating and cooling systems and kitchen facilities. Total cost is pegged at $300,000.

The new addition is just awaiting final approval for site plan and building permits. The church expects to begin digging this month, with optimistic and prayerful hopes that the prefabricated steel building will be in place and fully functional by September. You'll be happy to know that London street traffic will not be impacted by this construction work!

Matt Loveday likes the building program slogan: "Changing Lives With Every Square Foot". He explains that the aim is to see lives changed with the message of Jesus Christ. By expanding to allow increased community and church activity in the building, the opportunity for more changed lives also increases. As the church website says, "We want to make every square foot count at Village Green, because every foot represents a life."

Village Green leaders are also keen on the church's mission statement: "Love God, Love Others, and Change the World." You see it everywhere in the church and hear it from the stage each week. In that statement you will recognize Jesus' teaching on the greatest commandment found in Matthew 22:36-39. Matt Loveday explains that loving God needs to be our primary focus, and loving others will flow through that. "When you do that, that's how the world is changed-one life at a time. Changing the world is a massive statement. But, we like to talk about changing the world as changing the trajectory of someone's life in a positive direction-it can be any small act that points a person to the love of Christ."

To make the connection between building space and changed lives, Matt offers a recent example to illustrate. Through connections made by participating in the Westmount Family Centre, a public school representative learned about Village Green's food voucher program and referred a grandmother and her grandson to the church for some help. The church leadership showed this lady and her grandson that they cared about them, were interested in their story, and conveyed their understanding that needs often go beyond simply financial. This allowed for an open invitation to participate in the church community. They started attending Sunday services. The grandson soon made friends with other kids at Village Green and the grandmother has begun participating regularly in a women's group, which has become an important support for her. Clearly, the more Village Green can connect with people in their community through offering a place to come and participate, the more impact this church will have in changing the world.

With all that Village Green is doing to reach out into the Westmount area, the need for adequate space for programs and activities will continue to be a challenge because more and more people will connect with this friendly and welcoming church. There is already discussion about adding a second Sunday service, which will no doubt create further logistical challenges. Still, the leadership team at Village Green sounds positive in saying that these are great problems to have. Matt Loveday noted that the average age for youth to make faith decisions used to be around 18. In the past ten years, that age has dropped to around 13. That said, the value of a robust and well-resourced child and youth ministry program cannot be overstated. These young people are the church of today as developing leaders getting a biblical foundation and skill set. They are also the church of tomorrow as future church leaders.

Sunday Services start at 10:30 at 505 Village Green Ave. Good coffee too!

You can read learn more about Village Green Community Church: