A sign from God?

LivingWord Christian Center adds sign and new entrance to be more visible and accessible

This new sign, easily visible from Highway 169, is part of LivingWord Christian Center’s effort to be more visible and accessible to the community. (Photo by Jonathan Young)
This new sign, easily visible from Highway 169, is part of LivingWord Christian Center’s effort to be more visible and accessible to the community. (Photo by Jonathan Young)

If you’ve driven down Highway 169 in Brooklyn Park recently, you may have noticed the addition of a large sign on the east side of the road, just north of Interstate 94.

The three-pillared sign advertises LivingWord Christian Center. A prominent electronic display on the bottom changes every few minutes and lists service times, upcoming events and short, inspiring messages. The sign is the first phase in a project to make the church more visible and accessible to the community.

LivingWord is a massive, nondenominational church tucked away in an industrial park near the former Northland Inn, which is now the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest. On the outside, it doesn’t even look like a church, but inside it’s a beautiful building with four sanctuaries — one each for children, junior high students, senior high students and adults. It also houses a school, Maranatha Christian Academy. The church’s senior pastor, Mac Hammond, is known for hosting “Winner’s Way” on channel 9.

Despite its size, LivingWord’s campus was virtually invisible from the highway before the addition of the sign. Robert Backe, who works with ministry expansion at the church, says even though it has more than 8,000 members, many people in the community don’t know the church exists.

“It’s fascinating how many people don’t know that we’re here,” Backe said. “They don’t think to look for a church in an industrial park. … We want people to know we’re here.”

That’s the point of the sign. But the church isn’t stopping there.

This fall LivingWord will add a parking lot with an additional 200 spaces, as well as a driveway to allow access from the frontage road that runs along 169. It recently purchased and relocated a home that sat in the path of the project.

In addition to acquiring the property where the house was, the church had to get the land surveyed and re-platted by the county as well as rezoned by the city.

Chris Weisbrod handles contracts for the church and has been working on this project about two years.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out process to get to this point,” he said.

Now the end is in sight, and Weisbrod is excited to see the results. He said the parking lot and new entrance will be complete by winter. That’s important because the current parking lot doesn’t have room for all the cars that come each weekend. Churchgoers often park along the streets and walk blocks to the door.

“On the coldest of winter days … we have people that will walk a quarter mile or further along Northland Drive out on the road to get down to where the church is and then get into the sanctuary,” Backe said.

Backe expects adding 200 parking spaces will make attending services more pleasant and inviting to visitors, as well as keep the streets clear.

And he says the additional entrance will make the church more easily accessible.

“This entrance invites people,” he said.

Backe said one the most exciting aspects of the project is that the congregation believes in it enough to fund it with gifts beyond their usual tithes and offerings.

Weisbrod said the congregation raised at least $362,000 for the project.

“It’s exciting to see how lives are going to be changed,” Weisbrod said, adding that’s the ultimate reason the church is doing the project.

“The fact is we want God’s word to be prominent in the society we live in, and the more people that come here, the more we can make that happen,” Backe said. “They won’t come here if they don’t know we’re here.”

Backe said the church would especially like to reach people who believe in God but haven’t found a church to attend regularly.

“We would love to be that home,” he said.

For more information on LivingWord, visit lwcc.org.