Construction Is Underway

Construction has started! Demolition has begun and things are looking different around here. It is exciting to see this construction project get underway, and we hope you enjoy seeing the progress each week when you are here. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as we move through this season of construction::

  1. Never enter the fenced area.

  2. There may be changes often to traffic flow and the parking lot, so be sure to be alert as you arrive on the church campus.

  3. Pay extra attention to parking attendants on Sunday mornings.

Demo Day

See You Tomorrow & Parking Lot/Traffic Flow Reminder

We are excited to be with you tomorrow! Just a reminder that our parking lot and traffic flow is different due to construction. We encourage you to arrive at least 15 minutes early to account for the changes. We are constantly working to make it as smooth of a transition as possible. See the map below as a guide for how traffic will flow in the parking lot in the morning.

*Tomorrow is also the start of our 4:30 service, and we would love for you to join us there. It will be the same service that we have in the mornings, but we do think the parking spots will be much easier to find. :)


Parking Lot & Building Entrance Changes

Things are changing around here! Our construction team has started to move in and begin the initial steps needed for construction. We are all getting excited! Along with the construction comes changes to our parking lot. A fence has gone up to close off the construction zone. This fence changes the normal flow of traffic from the South parking lot.


Beginning Sunday, August 11th, we will be asking everyone to use the East Entrance to both enter and exit the campus. The West Entrance will be open but should only be used by those who are dropping someone off at the front of the building. Please see the parking lot guide below for more details.

Parking Lot Guide2

In addition to parking lot changes, you will also notice that you cannot enter the building from the South side any longer. Please see the above guide for where you can enter the building {noted by a green check mark}.

Take a look back at our last post — 3 Tips For A Smooth Sunday Experience — for our tips on how to make your Sunday morning smoother throughout this construction process. And as always, if you have questions, just email us at We’d love to talk with you!

3 Tips For a Smooth Sunday Experience During Construction

Construction will be starting soon, and we want to keep things running as smoothly as possible around here! You and your families are so important to us, and we want to be sure to keep everyone safe while also respecting the time it takes you to get in and out on Sunday mornings. Check out our 3 tips for a smooth Sunday during construction:

1. Familiarize yourself with new traffic patterns.

We will be introducing a new parking lot flow as of August 11. Some important things to note is that the West parking lot will be unavailable, and a significant portion of the South (back) parking lot will be fenced off. Our volunteer parking lot team will be vital in implementing this new traffic flow, so be sure to pay extra attention to their direction!

2019_Artboard 1.png

2. Give yourself more time.

We know how stressful it can be getting the family out the door on a Sunday morning; hitting traffic on the way to church or in the parking lot only adds to the frustration. We encourage you to add an extra 10 – 15 minutes to your Sunday morning routine. This can help set the tone for the morning and will help keep stress at bay when you encounter changing traffic patterns due to construction.

3. Know where to check your children in.

Find the red dots on the map to identify the five locations where check-in kiosks are located. Note that we will include two new check-in locations in both the North and South lobbies. Our main Children’s Ministry Welcome Desk will remain at its current location for assistance. 

Construction can be a headache, but we’ll be here every step of the way as we walk through this season together. Keeping you safe and informed is our top priority. Stay tuned for more information, and we look forward to all that God is doing in the hearts of our people as we continue The Surge Initiative.

Building Permits Granted

We have exciting news to share with you on this Friday afternoon! We have received the building permit for our Surge construction project! 🎉 After much anticipation, the time has finally come for us to get started on construction.

We don't want to let this moment of excitement pass without expressing our deepest appreciation to the many people who have helped us get to this point. There are so many people who have spent hours praying, studying, debating, listening, visioning, and exercising due diligence to reach the consensus of design. Thank you to our team of architects at Studio Four Design for all of their hard work to make our vision a reality. Thank you to our engineers for their work and expertise in handling the complexity of stormwater (who knew this could be such a problem!). Thank you to the City of Knoxville for their partnership and due diligence in keeping our West Hills neighbors in the best and safest living conditions.

We are all excited to begin this next phase! We know that construction will come with its fair share of frustrations but what a joy to be here now. Thank you, Fellowship Church, for your patience and faithfulness through prayer, giving, and words of encouragement during this entire design and approval process.

Now, let's get to work!

An Apology & Opportunity

On Sunday, May 12, Rick addressed concerns from several of our faithful members in response to the presentation on April 28 regarding the increased costs of the construction project. Please take a few minutes to listen to Rick’s apology on behalf of the Elders and an opportunity for you on Sunday, June 2 (during both services in the Resource Center) to interact & ask questions with members of our Elder board.

Evacuation Plan & Parking Changes Coming Soon

JC Neely took a couple of minutes in our May 5 service to make us aware of a few changes coming our way as a construction start date is being finalized… 

1) New Evacuation Map. Be aware that once construction begins, we will be following a new evacuation map. Please be familiar with our emergency exits as indicated on the attached map. Do NOT retrieve your children from Student or Children’s Ministry. Each classroom has instructions on how to exit the building safely and you will be given instructions on how to reconnect with your children. These new instructions will go into effect once the southeast entrances of the building are closed for construction. 

Worship Center Evacuation Plan: May 2019

Worship Center Evacuation Plan: May 2019

2) Parking. There will also be a new parking pattern once construction begins. Please pay special attention to our parking attendants and police officers. These changes require all of us to be attentive to those providing instructions.

{We will announce the effective date of these changes to the parking & evacuation plans via our social media and the “Update” section of this website. Please take time to bookmark this site. We have NOT FINALIZED a construction start date as of yet but we will let you know through these media platforms. Again, we want to make you aware that these changes are coming.}

Parking Changes Coming Soon

Parking Changes Coming Soon

3) and last, on Sunday, April 28, Rick & Gregor provided an update on the building project portion of the Surge Initiative. If you missed that you can find an overview within the “Updates” section of this site with additional specifics around the scope and cost of the project. 

Please take time to familiarize yourself with the Surge Initiative. This will be our primary way of providing ongoing information and updates.

A Detailed Explanation On Cost & Scope

The progress of our Surge Initiative is gaining significant momentum on every front. In light of this increased pace of development, I want to take a moment to provide you with additional details specifically related to the Surge Building Project.


The Elder Board’s vision for the building addresses three significant needs at our Middlebrook location. 

  1. Most imperative is providing space to balance the capacity in our worship center with space to serve our disciple-making ministries to children and students. This goal is deemed as essential to serving our greater purpose for Surge: discipling hundreds from younger generations into mature disciple-makers in Christ’s Kingdom. 

  2. Providing much needed space for the continued expansion of Biblical Life Counseling. The space for our Counseling area allows us to respond to the ever-growing needs of individuals and families.

  3. Providing a “makeover” for the flow and use of our existing building. This will create a larger, more effective space for everything from missions to growth series to worldview and family life conferences, to other opportunities the Lord may choose for us to follow Him in. 


Presently, we are waiting for the last steps in obtaining our building permits. For more insight into why the process has taken so long, please watch the video…

Personally, I am very thankful for how our Surge Building team has led with integrity, attention to detail, and a constant mindfulness of the Elder Board’s vision. It’s been worth the wait!


The scope of the Surge Building project has remained essentially unchanged since the congregation’s approval in November 2017. The only significant alteration was the expansion of the existing undersized kitchen to match the capacity of the space created by the project.

Here is an breakdown of the approximately $10 million cost for the building project:

Kitchen expansion — $232,700
Changes to existing building to comply with City building codes — $140,300
Site work & site changes to comply with City codes — $2,320,000
Building — $6,307,000
Furniture, Fixtures, Lighting, Video, Audio & Equipment — $1,000,000

As I shared on Sunday, April 28, we have significant work to prepare the site related to WATER RUNOFF. Here are some important facts:

  • The water runoff work needs to be done, regardless of whether we build a new building or not. It needs to be done with integrity for our city and to help keep our neighbors safe.

  • We must address the water runoff in order to build on any part of our site. It is our understanding that a building permit of any kind will not be issued until this is resolved.

  • The Elder Board has unanimously supported the choice to do this work.

Of course, we wish that this additional cost for site preparation was not necessary, but it is. Therefore it is included in the project.


Recently we reached the milestone of over $4,700,000 in giving and/or pledges toward the Surge Initiative. Our goal was to complete the giving in five years in order to avoid any long-term debt service. The additional costs could extend that time—but not necessarily. We are hopeful that the continued joyful generosity of the Middlebrook congregation will enable us to pay for the Surge Building Project long before the final payment is due on any debt service. 

We are a very fiscally conservative church. We utilize debt for as small an amount and as short a time period as necessary to fulfill the vision of the Elder Board. I am inspired by the level of commitment and passion already invested in our Surge Initiative. Having seen the hearts of our givers to this point, I am confident the generosity will continue as the Spirit leads.

Additionally, nothing about the cost of the project has compromised our commitment to the Surge Initiative and disciple-making for our younger generation or the expansion of our Multiplication movement. We are growing in depth and breadth at Fellowship Middlebrook. We are also launching our South Knoxville Initiative late summer and recently hired our fifth Multiplication Lead Pastor for a future launch!


Since 2016 our Elder Board has prayed, planned, waited, and led what has become the Surge Initiative. I can report that the elders are resolute in their confidence of God calling us to the Surge Initiative, including the Building Project, and they are living in joyful expectation of the fruit that will follow for generations. We are committed to providing for the future of Fellowship Middlebrook the physical space, financial resources, equipped leaders, and clear mission that will propel the next generation of spiritual leadership toward an even deeper and wider impact. Completing this building project and paying off any related accrued debt in a timely manner are essential elements in completing the commitments that the Spirit of God has led us to make as a leadership community.

Please bookmark for additional information and future updates.


Entrusted by Grace with the Gospel for the Next Generation,

Rick Dunn 

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17, 18

Building Permit Update & Code Compliance

If you missed Rick's "Family Talk" from Sunday, April 28th...

Please watch this 12 min video update on the building project.

Below is a quick text overview of the video content. If you only have time for one portion of the video make sure you listen to Gregor's explanation of the project timeline and increased costs.

Video Content Overview:

1. Rick: We ask that you would pray that God would spiritually stir the hearts of our adults to invest through praying, serving and participating in the lives of our children and students. Ask any of our ministry leaders how you can be a part.

2. It has been a long challenging process to meet the needs and growth of our children & student ministries. Listen to Rick Dunn & Gregor Smee share the latest update on building permits, the need for code compliance and an explanation of the increase in costs over these past 18 months.

3. Rick shared a brief update on JC Neely assuming the new role of Associate Lead Pastor at Middlebrook. If you missed Sunday morning 4/28, please take time to listen to JC’s teaching and hear to his heart for our church…