For Chalice Christian Church in Virginia Beach, VA, it all started with t-shirts.
A conversation over ordering t-shirts for a church event led to an employee at the t-shirt company requesting to use the church for their local South Korean group’s cultural school on Saturdays.
Church leaders decided that although they were happy to share their space with the group, they didn’t want this new relationship to just be transactional.
So instead of simply providing the group with a room reservation, Chalice CC members signed up to serve as greeters every Saturday for the group attending. There was no passing out church literature, or pressure to come back the next day for worship – just a friendly smile, and an offer to show them to their designated space.
Though that cultural school group eventually relocated, this first partnership was a turning point at Chalice CC. “That’s where we learned as a congregation about being servants to the community,” minister Rev. Greg Ott said. “They came to us and felt valued, important, and accepted. Every person that walked into our church felt it.”
That feeling was one the church wanted to replicate – and expand.
So, they started seeking out more partnerships with organizations looking for space during the week. Their location near naval bases provided Chalice CC with a community full of diverse groups – all potential partners.
Chalice CC continues to offer their space free of charge. Rev. Ott explained that the covenants signed with partners only mention that if the building meets their needs, they’d be welcome to give an offering, to help make the space available to more groups.
Every group has made such an offering.
This model, Rev. Ott says, “lets our partners see Christian love firsthand, and invites others to join in, without requiring them to come forward during a service…If we rely on old models, we’ll be dinosaurs. We need to meet people where they are – that’s what Jesus did.”
As these partnerships expanded, Chalice CC decided to renovate space on-site to offer features more suited to current and potential community partners.
The church, which was chartered after a 2009 merger of two churches, had a fund set aside for building costs, after the sale of a building. They decided to use that fund to renovate space for groups, including seven classrooms (seating 20 people each, with audio/visual capabilities), a large multi-purpose room to seat nearly 200 people, and a commercial grade kitchen.
The complete renovation is expected to be completed in June 2018, and the church is already reserving space for groups wanting to partner in this weekday ministry.
Chalice Christian Church has opened its doors to organizations across the community, with no plans to slow down.
“Who knows what doors God will open next,” Rev. Ott said. “I think sometimes we try to force the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we just need to open the door, and let God work.”