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Victory Life Church

Victory Life Church recently finished a $6.9 million dollar building project that finished on time and under budget, bringing the natural elements of the beautiful surroundings inside. Described as open, warm and friendly, the hallmark of the gathering space is the coffeehouse, where attention to detail rivals any hipster café.

Solomon Category: Gathering and Community Space Victory Life Church 6892 D Drive North Battle Creek, MI 49014 Lead Pastor: James Sunnock History: Founded in 2002 with 65 people Current Attendance: 1600-2000 Scope of Project: In March of 2016, Victory Life Church broke ground on a $6.9 million, 32,000 sq. ft. addition. With four years of planning, a team commitment by the architect, builder and church, the project finished on time and on budget. The build completed on March 4, 2017 was nothing short of extraordinary.  Gathering and community space: Four years of planning and vision casting were involved before the shovels hit the ground. Rather than the focus being on the new worship center, we wanted to design the facility to draw in the community and then create community within. Too big of a lobby and it would feel like a mall, too small and narrow and it would feel like an airport concourse. What was successfully designed was a space that encouraged the community to gather and engage in life changing relationships.  Victory Life Church sits back from the road, on 32 acres, surrounded by beautiful trees.  With this peaceful setting, the facility brings in the natural elements with stacked stone accents, stained concrete and natural wood and colors. Creating a commons area that is open, yet warm and friendly. The two main entrances, the worship center and coffee shop all converge creating an intentional space for community.  "We realized, that if we could create a space outside the worship center, where people would stop to connect with others, an energy and excitement would build that would be carried into the worship experience. "  An area that is often overlooked or only given a second thought, turned out to have a direct impact on the worship experience and the peoples' participation. We find that with the first worship song, there are energy and community that are intentionally developed the moment you walk through the door by both volunteers, being aware of the ministry value of a "handshake", and the intentional design of the building that encourages people to gather.  Some laugh, when we get so excited about the lobby and coffee shop, but we explain, "It's the heart beat of the church".  We went to the architect and builder and said, "This is who we are and how we want to do church."  Rather than having a new building and trying to figure out how to utilize the space, they designed a space that allowed us to be a "better us" in reaching and connecting with our community.  The feature of the lobby is the information desk. We created a space that as soon as you walk in, if you need any assistance, you'll know exactly where to go.  The hallmark of the gathering / community space is our coffee shop. This coffee shop was designed to compete with shops found in Nashville, Portland, and Chicago. Rather than having the coffee shop fit with the décor, we wanted it to stand alone and compete with any other hipster coffee shop. Great detail was given to the colors, ceiling height, materials and equipment. Rather than having it blend or coordinate with the rest of the facility, we wanted people to step into an entirely new experience, an experience found in a European coffee shop or in a lager city. Many have made the comment, "You forget you're in a church." Students come in do homework and people come in to meet and just hang out.  The challenge was to creating the right "vibe". There's a fine line between a cafeteria and a cool coffee shop. We choose hardwood floors over vinyl strips that look "just like wood". We broke the space up into smaller rooms, added soft seating and commissioned an artist to cut and sculpture a world map out of 200 lbs of steel.  The artist then spayed a solution only around the edges of the continents that would rust and over time spread to the center. It was to represent the spread of the Gospel.  To stay on budget, the key was to know where to spend a little extra money, to make the place pop, yet still be a bit understated. Being a part of the church, we added small touches like the 120 year oak pews that were rescued from a demolished church in Detroit; old repurposed industrial brick, and a stain glass art piece. It has become a space that puts people at ease and draws in the community.  Guests are quick to notice a coffee roaster in the corner. Next to the roaster is a decal explaining that by roasting our own coffee, this shop will be able to generate a greater profit margin, with all additional profits going to the counseling of those rescued from human trafficking.  The vision of the coffee shop received a special award from the Michigan State Legislators for our work and reach into the community and was presented to the church by our two state representatives at the grand opening.  We've learned that the building isn't everything, but when it is designed specifically to the vision, the building becomes extraordinary.

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