A TRIP ON THE CONCORD
JULY 11, 1993
PASTOR ED YOUNG
This past week, I talked with a gentleman who had just taken a trip from New York to London aboard the Concord, which is the fastest passenger jet in the world. I asked him about this trip and he said, “Ed, we’d go to the end of the runway on this airplane and once we hit the end of the runway, you go straight up. I’m talking about straight up. In fact, you leave the earth’s atmosphere and you are flying like I’ve never flown before.” Then I asked him if he could describe this trip in one word, I’m talking about aboard the Concord, how would you describe it? He said, “Unreal! Man, the trip was unreal!”
People oftentimes ask me across the state and the country, “What is it like to be a part of The Fellowship of Las Colinas? How would you describe this church, Ed?” And I always say, “It’s like our church is aboard the spiritual Concord. Jesus Christ is the pilot and we are cruising at supersonic speed,” and to really describe it, I would steal the phrase from my friend, “It’s unreal, unreal, what’s occurred here in this body of Christ.”
Today, very briefly, I want us to look at two aspects of our travel itinerary aboard The Fellowship of Las Colinas Airlines. We’re going to look at where we’ve been, where we are today, where we’re going, and how do we get there. Four aspects of our travel itinerary. If you’re visiting with us, you have picked a very exciting day to walk into The Fellowship of Las Colinas and you’ll know beyond a shadow of doubt, once you leave this facility, where this church, where this spiritual Concord, is headed.
Let’s start with the first leg of our journey. Where have we been? More than three years ago, a group of visionary people moved out to North Irving and they wanted to begin a church that really impacted the metroplex area. At that time, I was in Houston, Texas. God was preparing me for this ride, and I talked to these people who were a part of this brand new church and I prayed about this situation and I felt God leading me to become the pastor of this church. From a humanistic viewpoint, it was not a wise decision. I was going to a place where my salary was projected, the budget was projected, no facilities, no staff, no typewriter. I had a little office in the corner which is now one of our pre-school rooms. I was leaving a church with a $15 million budget, over 22,000 in attendance, over 300 on the paid staff. It didn’t make humanistic sense for Lisa and me to come up here and pastor this church.
However, there is someone involved called the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit works, you’ve got to obey. The Holy Spirit often will lead you to do things that don’t make humanistic sense, but they make biblical, Christ-centered, risk-taking, faith sense. I prayed about it and through my stumblings and fumblings, it was as if God said, “Hey boy, Ed! Ed, I’m getting ready to take a trip on a spiritual Concord. Here is a free ticket, Ed. If you want to, you can come along for the ride and here is the opportunity now.” God was able to communicate with me; I was able to listen. Lisa and I prayed about it. We came up here and from that day forward, February 1990, I walked onto this supersonic jet, it was as if a stewardess said, “Welcome to The Fellowship of Las Colinas Airlines. Our pilot today is Jesus Christ. The co-pilot will be the Holy Spirit of God. I’m your flight attendant, so sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We will be cruising at an altitude of supersonic speed. Who knows where we’ll go? Just hang on for the ride.” And what a ride it’s been! What a ride! I’ve been able to witness, as I look out of the little windows, our church has grown from less than 100 members to over 2,000 members in just three years. I’m the most surprised one here. I can’t believe it! I had no idea this church, this spiritual Concord, would be able to do and accomplish the things it’s accomplishing. And the reason is, you’ve got to point to the pilot, you’ve got to point to the cockpit. That is the only reason why this church is exploding.
Almost two years ago, I felt led of God to search for some land. If you know me very well, you know I know zero about real estate. I know a lot about basketball and fishing and the Bible, and that’s about it. So I called on a group of individuals (many are listed here in your bulletins today; I won’t go into all the names) and I told them some general parameters, some goals, some areas that we would consider building a church. Sure enough, they went out and for two years, this group worked day in, day out, trying to find a tract of land for the church. This land team was led by David Hardesty and Michael Wilkins, and they finally found the tract of land in Las Colinas, about 75 to 80 acres, great location, and we thought, “Surely, this is going to be it.” In fact, we were prepared to bring it to the church and we thought, “What could we buy this tract of land for?” and the cheapest, the cheapest we could buy this tract of land for here in Las Colinas, was $5 million in cash. No finance, now. $5 million in cash! I was born at night, but not last night, and I knew our church could not afford that, and there was no way we could get into a situation like that. We’d be paying for that land from now until the Lord comes back. So we kind of backed off it. We still began to pray about it.
At that time, in God’s sovereignty, I went to a conference in Chicago, Illinois, at a church called Willow Creek Community Church. Willow Creek Community Church is the largest church in America. It is, in my opinion, the healthiest church in America. Its pastor is named Bill Hybels, who I consider the number one church growth expert in the world today, and he was teaching a conference on leadership. He had heard about The Fellowship of Las Colinas and miraculously, he invited Owen Goff and me to have lunch with him, along with a few pastors, in his office, and he began to talk to us about his church. As we began to compare statistics a little bit (and I’m not telling you this to brag, just to show you what God is doing), our church, The Fellowship of Las Colinas, is ahead of where Willow Creek Community Church was at this point in history. Willow Creek Community Church is 17 years of age. They have 17,000 people on the weekends. So that is, in a nutshell, where we are headed numerically, if God just continues to keep blessing with the numbers He’s blessed us. And I talked to Bill Hybels about this tract of land. I said it was $5 million. He said, “Well, that’s expensive. I can’t tell you what to do,” but he looked at me across the table and with those piercing blue eyes he said, “We have 127 acres right now and if I had a chance to do it all over again, we would have bought much, much, much more property.” I thought, “What? More property? Are you in the land business or the church business?” I’m thinking that to myself. I didn’t say it out loud to him. I thought, “Whoa!” Then he began to talk about how the moment we build our church, our church will double. At that time, our church was averaging about 1,600 people in worship. Today we’re right at 2,000. He told me the moment we build, we will double in size and never look back. He said that the number one thing that limits church growth must be, and always will be, parking. So he said, “Ed, I challenge you to go back and start at square one and see if you can get a minimum of 100 acres.” I thought, “100 acres! Come one!” For less than $5 million, how in the world can we do that?” I presented it to the land team and again they start their second search. This lasted for a couple of months and then the land team found an interesting tract of land that I’m going to share with you in a couple of moments. The Fellowship of Las Colinas. Where we’ve been.
Let’s look back again at our history. We started with a couple of hundred people right across the street in our small worship center and we thought, “One day we’ll move to the Arts Center and we can handle it with one service.” Then we got to the Arts Center and suddenly we’re in two services and we think, “Two services will hold us. No problem.” The next year, three services. After three services, we think, “We can’t go any farther. We have to add two children’s churches.” So that’s kind of where we are. We are the major tenant across the street. We are packed out, jammed out, maxed out in every area possible. We are in dire need of a place to put our church. For those of you who are guests and for our members, let me share with you briefly the philosophy of our church. Our mission statement is easy to memorize. “We exist to reach up (that’s worship), to reach out (that’s evangelism; sharing the good news) and to reach in (that’s discipleship). To reach up, to reach out, to reach in. That is the purpose of our church and we are a purpose-driven church. We don’t choose the purpose. The purposes of the church have already been given to us by God’s infallible Word. However, we do choose the style, the methodology, in order to communicate these purposes. I’ll be frank with you, our church is right in the center of millions and millions of people. Many whose eternity is hanging in the balance and we will never – I repeat, we will never — stop growing until this metroplex is touched for Christ. Growth is where God wants us to be. Some are saying, “Well, Ed, are you trying to have the biggest church in the country? Are you in some type of race?” No, not at all. We just want to be God’s church and we don’t want to limit God or put God in a box and we want to be about His vision.
I want to talk to you a little bit about church growth. Take your Bibles and turn to II Peter 3:9. This is why our church must never stop growing. II Peter 3:9. First, because God loves people. That’s the number one reason why our church must never stop growing. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but He wants everyone (circle that phrase, “everyone”) to come to repentance.” He’s not satisfied with a few; He wants everyone to come to repentance. Why should our church never stop growing? First, because God loves people.
There’s another reason found in Luke 14:23. God commands us to reach out. God commands us to reach out. Luke 14:23 in The Good News says, “Go out into the country and urge anyone you find to come in so that my house will be (here’s the word) full.” SRO, standing room only. Go out into the country. Our church, we want to impact two groups of people. It’s very important that you grasp this. First of all, we want to impact Christians. We want to impact believers, those who are fully devoted to Jesus Christ. But we want these Christians to have a heart for those who don’t know Christ. If you’re just concerned about hanging out with Christians and doing everything with Christians and having a holy huddle and a stained-glass fortress and isolating yourself from the rest of the world, you’ve picked the wrong church. There are many other churches in the area that are geared just for Christians. Go be a part of that one, because you’ll be unhappy here. We want and we talk and we preach about how our best friends must be Christians. But we are here as Christians to reach out. That’s why God didn’t zap us to heaven the moment we were saved. We are here for a purpose, for a reason and one of the primary tools of growth is you. You have invited your unsaved friends to hear a life-changing message, a dangerous message, in a very secure environment.
We also want to impact those who don’t know Christ – the non-Christian. Jesus was called “a friend of sinners” and a lot of us, we’ve forgotten how to become friends of sinners. We’ve forgotten how to really show God’s love to them, to show we’re interested in them, to show that we care about them, to show them mercy. Those are the two groups of people we want, Christians who are open to non-Christians and are also growing deeper; and also non-Christians, who also one day before God, will become Christians. And our church has tried to remove the barriers that most churches have in order to hear the gospel. We’ve been dealing with barriers our entire lives. The first barrier, the first fear people have as far as going to church is, I’ll be put on the spot, someone will call on me to speak. What does the church do? “If you’re visiting with us, remain seated. Members stand up.” Ahh! I’m the oddball. Or take the giant, fluorescent name tag that drags the ground, “I’m visiting.”
Another reason people are fearful of the church is they say the church is more interested in their money than themselves. That’s why every Sunday and every Wednesday you hear me say right before the offering, “If you’re visiting with us, don’t feel obligated to give. This a time for our members to share their love and to express their love to the Lord.” Another reason why people don’t go to church is they say “Services are boring and irrelevant and don’t relate to life.” I can close my eyes, so can you, and I can tell you what’s going on in 90% of the churches across America…three hymns, a prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, three-point sermon, a couple of illustrations, a poem. Go home. You’re right there in Luby’s Cafeteria by about 12:02 p.m. I’ve been bored in church for a long, long time until about ten years ago. We try to have services that have impact, that are bathed in prayer, that communicate a point, whether it be through drama, worship, the spoken word, in many different ways, and we have just touched the tip of the iceberg, I believe, of what God wants to do. Because if you’re truly living with the Lord, if the Holy Spirit is working, that’s where you’ll have true creativity.
There’s another reason why God wants us to never stop growing. Growth is God’s will. Let me read Colossians 2:19 to you, “Under Christ’s control the whole body is nourished and grows as God wants it to grow.” And we want to grow larger and smaller at the same time. We do that be concentrating on the small groups. If you ever come to the point in your Christian life where you say, “I want our church to stop”, wherever you are a member of a church, you are saying to the rest of the metroplex that they can go to hell. If you ever say, “Well, I want our church to stop growing at 150 or 10,000,” you’re telling those who don’t know Christ that they can spend eternity in hell. That’s the seriousness of this deal. That is what’s hanging in the balance and that is where our church has been. Where are we today?
This fall in our projections, in our meetings with staff and other leaders here at The Fellowship of Las Colinas, we’re going to have to add another worship service on Sunday morning. We’ll now have four worship services starting in the fall. We’ve just acquired the theater which faces MacArthur and we’ll use that for one of our worship services along with three services here. As I said earlier, we’re the number one tenant and we’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars just to have this arts center and the space, which is great space. We love the space. It’s time though to put the money into something that will be here for a long, long, long time.
Think about this Concord again. Go back to the Concord. We’re on the Concord and the Concord is taking off, and the Concord has not even leveled off yet, this deal we’re talking about, The Fellowship of Las Colinas, it hasn’t leveled off. In fact, we’re still climbing and the seat belt light is still on. The flight attendants are still strapped into the jumpseats. We can’t even unfasten our tray tables, and if you’ll show me slide one, please, that briefly is a growth graph of The Fellowship of Las Colinas over the last three years. In 1990, we were less than 100 members and today we’re right at 2,000. Over the last 12 weeks we’ve been over 2,000 three times, 3,000 once, and that’s where we would go if conservatively we continue on this plane, on this track, and the G-force has been something else. Think about it. It even changed Owen Goff’s hairstyle, we’ve been going so fast. Owen used to swoop it this way, now it’s straight back. Is that Owen back there? Wave to us, Owen. Look at it, see? He used to comb it to the side. Now see…that’s what happens when you ride on the Lord’s jet. So that’s where we are today. We are in a great situation and we have great problems, great barriers, but we need something permanent and now let me talk about this tract of land.
Our land team, a couple of months ago, came to us and found a tract 160 acres in the heart of the metroplex, 8/10th of a mile from Irving. This tract of land splits Coppell and Grapevine. It’s where five major freeways come together. Let’s see if I can hit these freeways properly. Michael Wilkins might have to help me – 114, 635, 2499, 26 and 121. All those freeways come together. The Resolution Trust Corporation has this land and they are selling it at a great price. Here we talked about 80 acres in Las Colinas and when you talk about Las Colinas you have to talk about millions of dollars just for the foundation as far as the church we’re going to talk about. You take that and move it out to where we’re talking about possibly putting a church and you have no foundational problems and 160 acres offered at a price between $2.5 and $3.7 million. You have a great, great, great deal! So that’s where we are.
Now, if you would show the second slide, I’ll try to pinpoint where we are. Let’s kind of dim the lights a little bit. Can you make that out? I’m sure you can, those eagle eyes. You might want to focus it a little bit. Here we go. To the far right of the canvas or the slide, that would be to the (is that east or west?) east on the slide but really west from the D/FW Airport. You see D/FW Airport right there? Okay, you have 114. You have 635 south of the tract and that is State Highway 121 and that’s 160 acres. As I said, on the right side, on the west side, you have 80 acres in Grapevine. On the other side, you have 80 acres in Coppell. You’re 8/10th of a mile from Irving. We’re thirteen minutes from this church driving in four o’clock traffic. I drove it this past week. There is Las Colinas and there’s Dallas and that is the tract of land that we’re talking about. There’s the Hilton Hotel. See the Hilton right there on Lake Grapevine? Just kind of jump a few inches, right there is the Hilton Hotel. It’s kind of right across the way from the Hilton Hotel. Okay, let’s turn the lights back up.
My first question when I saw this was, “Okay, why so much land? 160 acres. Wow! That’s a lot of property!” There was a study recently conducted over the top 100 largest churches in the country and this study asked the churches one question, “If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?” And the churches said, “We would have bought more land and we would have provided more parking.” This tract does not limit God. We can stay here until the Lord returns, and the master plan that we had played with and that we’ve thought about is phenomenal. It is a Concord-type plan. So that, prayerfully folks, is where we are going. At this point, we are one of the top bidders — The Fellowship of Las Colinas, along with a couple of other people — for this tract of land. We don’t know exactly where we will fall – somewhere between the $2.5 – $3.5 million range. It could be lower. It could be a little higher and that is where we are today. We will not know about this tract of land until I’d say eight to ten days. That’s why we wanted to present this to you to show you where we’re going. There are a lot of specifics that I’m sure you want to hear discussed and this Tuesday night, write this down, between seven and nine o’clock, or between seven and however long you want to stay, we’ll have our land team there, we’ll have the engineers there, the architects there, sound people there, everyone and their brother will be there, to answer any questions and hear any suggestions that you might have. We’ll also [__?__] right after the service, some of us. Then next Sunday, we will vote, as a church, to go after this land. We’ll have a vote and we’ll stand on the vote. Do we vote, The Fellowship of Las Colinas, to take this land or not? Yes, stand. No, stand. That will be it.
I think our land team has done a super job in finding this tract of land. Again, a very attractive price, and go to slide three for us. Again, where we’re going. I know you can’t see that very well, but we’ll have these pictures out in the lobby for you as you exit. Here is kind of a brief master plan. We had to submit a master plan to the cities of Coppell and Grapevine in order to even think about putting a church on the tract and all the white stuff right there, that’s parking. You’ll see the most important thing in the middle, that lake, it will be stocked with Florida large-mouth bass. We really didn’t want a lake. We’ll use that lake for baptisms and a number of things, and we’ll build in phases, and it’s our goal, if we can take down this tract of land, to have phase one completed a year from this February. So we will be hopefully in a building a year from this February, and we’ll build phase one which is the phase nearest to the edge of the slide. It’s the first little brown spot you’ll see as you move north. Right there. That ought to be the first phase.
The worship center one day, I’m talking five to ten years from now, is in the middle, and it will seat anywhere from between 4,500 to 5,000 people. You have the children’s wing, educational space, pre-school, nursery, sand volleyball courts are out there lighted. We have a driving range. The master planner we’ve talked to has built hundreds of churches across the country and says that a driving range is dirt cheap to do. I think we have a couple of people who play golf here so we wanted to do that. There’s a soccer field, baseball fields, as I said again, a bass lake, and we will use that lake for baptisms. There’s an amphitheater-type graded stairs that go down into the lake. That’s generally…and again, we can change all this, but we had to put this down on paper for the cities of Grapevine and Coppell. That’s kind of what it will look like and those little words there, that’s Highway 121 and 635 south of the tract.
Let’s do the next slide. This is an artist’s rendering of what it would look like from 121. To the left would be the worship center and we’re going to have the worship center in a theater-type situation like this but bigger and even more capabilities to do the scrims and scrams and all the curtains and everything. In the middle, that is the children and pre-school wing. To the right, that will be our first phase, which will be a multi-use facility that will seat between 2,200 and 2,500 people once we go in.
Next slide, please. That’s from the bass lake looking (there’s a picture of me fishing somewhere out there) but there’s a picture of the lake. You’re looking back toward the worship center and that’s how the buildings would more or less surround the lakes and ponds.
Next slide, please. That’s it. That’s it. Okay. You can turn the lights back on. I about slipped, getting so excited. So that’s kind of where we’re going as a church. As I said, here’s the tract of land. We need to make a serious, serious downpayment on the property.
Let me finally touch on the fourth part of the travel itinerary…what we need to do in order to get there. We’ve talked about where we’ve been. We’ve talked about where we are. We’ve talked about where we’re going, prayerfully, with the 160-acre tract. Now, how do we get there, and that means you, because this Concord needs a hangar, right? It needs a runway. I know there are a lot of runways around there, but we’re talking about a church and we need, as a church, I’ll just lay it out for you folks, to raise between $400,000 and $500,000 between now and next Sunday. The RTC works on a very, very short time span. Once they give you the chance to take it, you have 30 days for it to happen. I’m going to ask you today to pray about and to write out the biggest check possible. Make it out to The Fellowship of Las Colinas’ Land Fund so we can have enough money to put down on this tract of land. I’m talking about a bone-chilling-type gift. Lisa and I recently gave our entire retirement for this past year to this land fund. That was a sacrifice for us. I’m asking you, I’m talking about IRAs, savings accounts, stocks, whatever, to step to the line now and to give. We talk often about investments…investing your money in this, investing your money in that. We have a chance to become difference-makers. We have a chance to impact this metroplex, this world for Jesus Christ. Eternity again, is hanging in the balance for so many families, so many single adults, and this church, piloted by the Lord Jesus, co-piloted by the Holy Spirit of God, can touch people’s lives for eternity and that’s what I’m asking you and inviting you to do. Now is the time to step to the line. Now is the time. People ask me often, “When will we know about the land? When will we know…?” This is it. Right now.
I want to read a verse of Scripture in Matthew 6:20. Jesus said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy”, and I’ve always asked myself the question, “How can I store up for myself treasures in heaven? How can I do that?” There’s only one way…you invest your money in people who are going there. That means when we get to heaven, if we really invest in the church, and the church will last forever, it will last forever, eternal benefits, people will rush up to us and say, “Ed, thank you for giving to the Lord. Thank you for giving to The Fellowship of Las Colinas. Because you gave, I met Jesus Christ on the sand volleyball court or at the gymnasium or in the worship center or in the children’s rink or with the singles or with the youth.” This is a chance, this is a window we have right now to do something, I believe, like I have never seen before. There is no way we planned all this, folks. I’m the most surprised person here. We’re more or less making it up as we go. God is piloting it and the G-force is like this and we’re saying, “Lord, we’re here. We’re holding on. We’re going to follow you.” We really feel like God’s leading us through this time in history. So the question I have for you is, “Are you going to be a difference-maker? Is it time for you to sacrifice?” I heard someone say years ago, “It’s not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.” For some here, $100 will be a sacrifice. Some here, $100,000 would not even be a sacrifice. That’s right. Don’t worry about the amount. I ask you to give, not till it hurts, but till it feels good. I am so happy that Lisa and I gave what we gave and it was a huge gift in regard to us, and I’m asking you to do the same thing because there is no way I can sit up here and talk about giving unless it starts with the leader, with the shepherd of the church. There’s no way.
So, I want you now to bow your heads with me for a moment. Every head is bowed and every eye closed, and I am going to pray a prayer and I want you to think about the words and pray these words to God. “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this time in history. We thank you for the potential, the opportunities here before us, and I thank you, I praise you, God, for what you’ve done as you’ve piloted this Concord, this spiritual Concord; for the many, many lives that have been changed. I thank you, God, for changing my life over the last three years. Lord, it’s time now to give to your church because you’ve told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church and it’s time that we band together and build your church. I pray in my own life and every life here that we give a bone-chilling gift over the next seven days to this land fund.
Ask God right now, “God, what do you want me to give?” Don’t say, “How?” He’ll show you the “how”. Say, “God, what do you want me to give? $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, a half a million?” I don’t know. I have no idea. It’s not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice. But you can say, “I had a part in eternity. I had a part in this church. I’m going to touch people’s lives, my money can, forever and ever and ever. What a chance! What an opportunity! Don’t put it off. Don’t blow it. It’s time to step up and give. So right now I’m going to ask you, while no one is looking, except you’re going for your checkbook, to take out your checkbook or cash or whatever right now, and if God is leading you today, to write the check, you do that.