Too young, no money, and no room: the story of Mike Popenhagen and Radiant Church


This post was written by Mike Popenhagen, Lead Pastor of Radiant Church in Jackson, Michigan. Read as he tells the story of all that God has done SO FAR in their “Making Room Campaign.”

Brief History

Radiant Church launched March 2, 2014, in Jackson, MI with 120 some people in attendance at our first service. Over the past four years, we’ve experienced super-natural growth.

We’ve been averaging 28% growth each year and, to date, we have around 450 attendees each week.

This has caused us to outgrow our current facility. Our building is 7,500 sq ft, our sanctuary seats 240 and this past Good Friday (2018) we filled every seat with standing room only. 

  • Due to the growth, we have maxed out every area of our building. I gave up the pastor’s office to expand our sanctuary. We knocked out a wall and were able to add 40 more seats.

  • Occasionally, we will park cars in the grass because we’ve run out of parking spots.

  • Children hallways are over-crowded.  

  • For the past 2 years, we have been running 3 identical Sunday services to hold us over until we have a solution.

 At the end of 2016 we ran an analysis and discovered that at our current growth pace, we would run out of room by September 2018. We had a problem and needed solutions

  • After many considerations, we determined we needed to build an additional 12,000 sq ft building with a 500 seat sanctuary.

To see the facility Radiant Church designed, check out our newest resource, The Modern Church Facility.

The Modern Church Facility – Partner Building Resource

The Plan

In January 2017, with only $30,000 in our bank accounts, a dream, and a site plan, I went to a bank and asked if it was possible to get a construction loan for 2 million dollars. 

  • Obviously, we were told we were too young and we don’t have sufficient funds or income.

  • Pastor James Sunnock (Victory Life Church – Battle Creek, Michigan) introduced me to INJOY Stewardship. After meeting with Injoy we were paired up Jeff Shortridge and we began to develop a plan to make this dream a reality.

    • INJOY Stewardship determined our congregation could raise between $250,000 to $375,000 over 24 months.

    • I doubted we would reach the higher end of their analysis because Jackson is a working man’s town.

    • We shared the vision, the plan with our leaders and our church during the holidays.

    • March 4, 2018, was our commitment Sunday and our church committed to over $500,000 and we’ve reached $270,000 of those commitments IN 6 WEEKS!

  • Today we have over $330,000 and we’re ready to move forward with building our new building.

Our Miracles

  • In just over 1 year’s time we’ve gone from $30,000 in our accounts to over $300,000.

  • Last week we met with the bank and we’re moving forward with our 2 million-plus project. (The bank said they couldn’t believe we’ve done this in a year’s time.)

  • Also, our church is zoned office space. This means we cannot build without rezoning. Our architect suggested asking for a variance from the zoning board. We did.

    • The vote to grant a variance was last Thursday (4/12/2018). We were granted our variance, which means we do not have to rezone.

    • After the meeting, the architect told me “I have been doing this for 20 years… And in 20 years I have never seen a variance granted!!!!” It was a miracle.

See Pictures of the Project Here

This is God’s dream, His church and I am humbled He’s invited me to be a part of the miracle He’s doing in Jackson, MI.

We’re grateful for our partnership with INJOY Stewardship. God has used their wisdom to help us share our vision in a way that did not puncture the momentum or lose our DNA.  

We’re looking forward to breaking ground. Hopefully this summer.

If you would like to see the facility Radiant Church is building (along with the church that referred them to INJOY Stewardship – Victory Life), check out our newest resource that features their building project, The Modern Church Facility: A photo journal of four new church building projects.

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