Everyone loves a fixer upper. Whether it’s seeing the old transform into something new, finding potential in things overlooked, or bearing witness to an artist as he or she creates something beautiful, it is an amazing thing to behold.
On March 17, 2019, after a month of renovations, the Life Church in Memphis, Tenn. launched their fifth campus on Austin Peay. Church staff and volunteers helped with everything from demolition to landscaping, while the church contracted out some of the bigger jobs. Redwire Audio Visual played a part in the process by installing a DiGiCo SD9 sound board, 75 LED theatrical lights, a 50 foot LED Clear Pixel video wall, and L-Acoustics speakers. Redwire AV sat down with Ben Forehand, the Raleigh Campus Pastor, to discuss the renovation process and how the new equipment allows them to carry out the vision of the Life Church.
How did The Life Church begin?
Pastor John and Leslie Siebeling were serving at a church in Louisiana when they felt the call to go to Kenya to live and do mission work. They were planning to live there long-term. They served for three years under Pastor Don Matheny of Nairobi Lighthouse Church in Kenya. God began working in their hearts and giving them a passion and vision to come back to the US and launch a church that valued diversity, intentionally pursued the next generation, and fostering an environment where the Gospel is accessible to those far from God.
And how did the Life Church choose Raleigh for their next campus?
The Austin Peay campus formerly belonged to The House Church. After two years of transitions, The House Church pastor reached out to John Siebeling, who is an old friend of his, and asked to connect. Pastor John always hoped to see The Life Church grow to 12 campuses, so he asked his friend if he would like to make their church an extension of the Life Church. In December 2018, after many discussions, The House Church voted to become a Life Church viewing campus. In February, the Raleigh campus pastors held team rallies for the people who were from The House Church. They gave them opportunities to get involved, and spent four Sundays talking about culture, vision, and values.
How was the renovation process? How did you accomplish everything in one month?
*Renovation began February 17th and finished March 17th .
“We are a teamwork-based church. It's one of our 10 values. So, when this campus launched, you had everybody from EVERY team – volunteers, staff members, EVERYBODY doing literally everything. You had tech people, media volunteers, worship leaders, and musicians digging ditches and landscaping. You had children’s workers painting the walls... We have a high ownership team. We're all hands on deck.” So many people from the church cleaned, pulled up carpet, moved pews out of the building, and helped by cleaning up in between big projects once the contracted workers left.
“Pastor John Seibeling and his wife Leslie were very much involved in the details. They had a huge role in the overall design of the facility. Adam Bartlett was the project manager. Pastor Leslie Siebeling has a degree in interior decoration that she uses at all of our campuses. Leslie Ford is an insanely creative person who practically lived here during the renovation process, organizing the space and curating the different elements that we put into all the spaces, top to bottom .…” John Howell, Mundo Meneses, Chad Clark and Amee Farmer all played a big part in this process. “You name it— if it's something you can touch and feel and see, that team made it happen.”
“We also have established relationships throughout our past renovations with some solid subcontractors, for instance, Redwire, our painting contractors, and electrical-- people that make good on their word to get the project done when they say they're going to get it done. So, we didn't have a lot of problems on this project. It was very smooth because we've used contacts and relationships that we've used in the past and people who are full of character.” Brian Pitre worked a lot with Redwire on the design and layout of all the tech as well.
How has the new audio visual technology Redwire AV installed made life easier? How are you able to use it as a tool to carry out the vision and values of The Life Church?
“The Gospel never changes, but the method always changes. With each generation, the social climate, the technological climate is different. Jesus was a master of meeting people where they were. And through the technology that Redwire installed, we are able to do that —
“We are meeting people where they are—in a media-soaked culture, where we are being advertised to more now than ever. The Life Church is able to break through the noise that everybody is entrenched in, with a message of hope and life and light. We are appealing to the next generation through the level of equipment. That’s going to get some attention from people who otherwise maybe wouldn’t pay attention to the message. They will stop and look. And when they look, they will realize there is another layer to this — which is JESUS.
One of our core values is being life-giving. The way that we give life, is [by making] the experience excellent for people. When things are excellent, you aren’t cringing. When things are working properly, your mind is able to relax, and we are able to focus on the real reason we are here-- Jesus. That’s through clarity of sound. The system you installed is top of the line to ensure that everybody is hearing the message that we’re giving. No interruptions. No feedback. All of the different methods that you guys used to ensure that we are constantly delivering an excellent product. [Another] thing that we always aim to do is to provide consistently excellent weekend services. We can't give consistently excellent weekend services if we don't have consistently excellent equipment; and Redwire provided that.”
“It's also helps to connect all campuses together. It is very important for us as a campus of the Life Church to feel like we're all ONE church. That's our vision statement. We are one church with many locations –Dynamic, Spirit-filled, Diverse. And so, it's important to feel like we're one Church; to not feel like we're disconnected, and the audio visual equipment helps ….” We are a viewing campus, so Pastor John Siebeling broadcasts sermons from the Houston Levee campus, and we watch the same message at the other campuses.
“Even though we're 20 plus miles away from each other, it doesn't feel like 20 plus miles away. And so, the equipment that has been installed allows us to be one Church in many locations effectively, and we don't feel like we're getting a lesser experience at Austin Peay. We don't feel like we're getting any different of an experience. We feel like we're getting the full experience because it is so excellent. It is so on track. it is so right... it so congruent with all the other campuses — to make sure that when you walk in to any of our locations… all the spaces look different, but you are still receiving the same experience.”
*Ben Forehand is the Life Church’s campus pastor for their Raleigh campus located on 3683 Austin Peay Hwy, Memphis, TN. They meet on Sundays at 9:30 and 11:15. For more information, visit thelifechurch.com.