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.

   Pastor     Mike Popenhagen

Pastor Mike Popenhagen

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.

We had a problem and needed solutions.
— Mike Popenhagen, Radiant Church

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.

In just over 1 year’s time we’ve gone from $30,000 in our accounts to over $300,000.
— Pastor Mike Popenhagen, Radiant Church

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.

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.

The Modern Church Facility: A photo journal of four new church building projects

Have you noticed that over the past 15 to 20 years, a large portion of the church sector has moved away from the traditional, “steeple-style” facility to a more modern, multi-purpose design?

   Believers Church - Chesapeake, VA

Believers Church - Chesapeake, VA

Many churches are utilizing modern building facilities as a way to reach their community. These facilities are functioning to meet a plethora of needs in the community, instead of acting solely as a place for their people to gather on Sundays.

Throughout this shift in church building design, our team has been privileged to help hundreds of churches fund their next step of modernizing an older facility or building an entirely new one.

As we've shared a few of these stories this year, we've realized that pastors and church leaders are very interested in learning how other churches are overcoming their building challenges.

So, we decided to create a portfolio of some of the most unique facilities we’ve helped fund over the past year.

   More Life Church - Newark, OH

More Life Church - Newark, OH

In our newest publication, The Modern Church Facility: A photo journal of four new church building projects, we created a portfolio of four churches’ architectural plans, artist renderings, and photos of their completed projects. We hope that this inspires you as you dream about the facility God would have your church build.

To get a closer look at four of the building projects we’ve worked on in the past year, check out our newest publication, The Modern Church Facility: A photo journal of four new church building projects.

   Radiant Church - Jackson, MI

Radiant Church - Jackson, MI

The churches we chose to highlight are:

  1. More Life Church - Newark, Ohio
  2. Radiant Church - Jackson, Michigan
  3. Believers Church - Chesapeake, Virginia
  4. Victory Life Church - Battle Creek, Michigan



To get a closer look at these churches building projects, check out our newest publication, The Modern Church Facility: A photo journal of four new church building projects.

If there is anything we can do to help your church fund its next building project, please reach out to us HERE. It would be our honor to serve your church any way we can!

Millennials on Stewardship: A live, online panel event featuring 4 millennial leaders.


In light of our newest eBook, The Millennial Handbook: 16 Ways to Engage Millennials on Stewardship, our team will be hosting a live-panel interview with the group of millennials who helped create this resource. 

[ If you missed it, you can download the eBook HERE. ]

On Tuesday, April 17th at 2:00 pm EST, our team will be hosting Millennials on Stewardship: What Millennials Really Think About Stewardship; a live-panel interview with four of our millennial team members who are passionate, young believers that love Jesus and regularly give to their churches.

To hear a group of Jesus-loving, church-going millennials share their convictions and perspective on all things related to stewardship, register for our upcoming live-panel event, Millennials on Stewardship.

This group of young leaders has such a unique perspective on this topic because not only do they help churches overcome their stewardship challenges every single day through their work; they also attend churches who are doing a great job of engaging millennials in the area of stewardship.

We wanted to give you an opportunity to hear directly from these individuals and engage in a conversation with them. So come ready with all the questions you can think of, and we will do our best to answer every last one of them.

This online event is free to attend, but spots are limited! So, make sure you reserve your spot today and come ready to learn how to engage the next generation of church leaders!

Here are all the details you need to know:

  • When? April 17th at 2:00 pm EST

  • Where? Live, online

  • How much does it cost? It’s free!

  • How do I register? HERE

3 distinguishing traits ALL great leaders possess (and you should too).

In lieu of his recently published book, Timeless: 10 Enduring Practices of Apex Leaders, INJOY Stewardship executive team member, and leadership expert, Brian Dodd, hopped aboard The Ship Podcast to discuss what makes great - or "apex” - leaders so successful.

Brian began the journey of writing Timeless because he wanted to get to the bottom of what traits distinguish apex leaders from everybody else. So, over the last several years, Brian intensely studied over 180 apex leaders and noticed ten common traits every great leader possessed.

His research focused on answering this question:

Are top-level leaders able to achieve greatness in their respected fields because they are supernaturally gifted by God, or can ANYBODY develop themselves into an apex leader?

Thankfully, once he completed his research, he realized that anyone could develop themselves into an apex leader.  

In Episode 04 of The Ship Podcast, Brian and Matthew Garrison discuss three of the ten enduring practices of apex leaders:

  1. How apex leaders build great teams.

  2. How apex leaders form strong relationships.

  3. How apex leaders make others better.

We believe leadership matters because people matter.

One day, we all will be held accountable to God for how we lead the people He has placed in our care, so to better shepherd God’s flock, we must commit to developing our own leadership capabilities.

So, listen to Episode 04 of The Ship Podcast and apply the wisdom Brian Dodd brings us. If you do, we truly believe you will be better equipped to lead yourself, your family, and your church!

The Millennial Handbook: 16 Ways to Engage Millennials on Stewardship

The word “millennial” is one of the hottest buzzwords in the church leadership world right now.

So many church experts are talking, writing, and teaching on HOW to engage millennials in your church experiences. This is a huge challenge all churches are facing right now, and it’s encouraging that so many experts are helping you address it. However, we wanted to provide you with a different perspective - we wanted to share solely FROM the perspective of millennials.

That’s why we created The Millennial Handbook: 16 Ways to Engage Millennials on Stewardship - to take you inside the mind of millennials and help you understand HOW they think about money, stewardship, and the Church. 

To get inside the mind of a millennial and understand HOW they think about money, stewardship and the Church, download our FREE eBook, The Millennial Handbook: 16 Ways to Engage Millennials on Stewardship.

Our goal with this resource is to help you understand five things:

  1. Why millennials feel it's important you connect with them on the topic of stewardship.

  2. How pastors and churches should communicate with millennials on the topic of stewardship.

  3. What makes millennials want to give to their churches.

  4. How millennials feel churches have engaged them the wrong way in the area of stewardship.

  5. How millennials feel churches can engage millennials the right way in the area of stewardship.

Every piece of content we share in this resource has come from the mind of a millennial. INJOY Stewardship Solutions currently employs a large team of millennials. So, in order to better understand HOW millennials think about money, stewardship, and the Church, we gathered our millennial team members together for a round-table discussion and asked them questions on the five topics listed above.

To get inside their minds and understand HOW millennials think about money, stewardship and the Church, download our newest FREE eBook, The Millennial Handbook: 16 Ways to Engage Millennials on Stewardship.

How a church with no prior capital campaign experience exceeded its goal by $400k.

Church: More Life Church - Newark, OH

   Josh Pennington - Lead Pastor, More Life Church

Josh Pennington - Lead Pastor, More Life Church

Project: Facility Expansion

Goal: $500,000

Amount Raised: $890,000

In 2016, More Life Church was completely out of space.

Their children’s space was filled to maximum capacity, their youth space was cramped, and their sanctuary was practically overflowing, so they needed to expand their current facilities.

However, Pastor Josh Pennington and his staff had absolutely no experience raising money. They had never done a capital campaign before, but they were facing an incredibly urgent need to raise a significant amount of money.

So, Josh reached out to INJOY Stewardship and asked for help.

To learn more about how INJOY Stewardship could help your church through the same process, join our FREE online course, The Five-Minute Capital Campaign.

Josh and his team were incredibly receptive to the coaching INJOY Stewardship provided and More Life Church followed the process our consulting team laid out with extreme diligence.

As a result of their diligence, faith, and sacrifice, More Life Church saw God do immeasurably more than anything they expected.  

Their original commitment goal was set at $500,000, but they exceeded that by almost $400,000.

Two years into their capital campaign, they’ve already received cash totaling over $500,000, and are on pace to receive their total pledges of over $890,000.  

Although they had no prior capital campaign experience, Pastor Josh and his team created an amazing vision for More Life Church and a phenomenal experience for their people.

God has done exceedingly and abundantly more than all they could ask or imagine, and More Life Church is proof God can do unbelievable things in our churches when we take bold steps of FAITH and ask for HELP when we need it.

To view a 3D Flythrough of their facility that celebrates how much money they were able to raise in the first year of the campaign, check out this video!

To see some comparisons of what the facility looked like before, and what it will look like after the renovations, check out these photos!  

Front of the church, before and after:

Back of the church, before and after:

If your church is looking to achieve similar results to More Life Church, join our free online course, The Five-Minute Capital Campaign. We will walk you through the INJOY Stewardship Process in four five-minute videos and help you understand how you can see these kinds of results in your church!

JOB ALERT - INJOY Stewardship is hiring!

This post was written by INJOY Stewardship Solutions President and CEO, Joseph Sangl.


I’m so excited about what is continuing to happen through INJOY Stewardship Solutions! We have an amazing team that is so passionate about helping churches accomplish far more than they ever thought possible by raising financial resources and implementing systems that lead to a generous culture. Time and time again, we’ve seen our dream become reality before our very eyes! Over the last 26 years, our team has been able to help over 4,500 churches raise over $4.5 billion dollars to fund Kingdom Work through the local church.

With this incredible growth comes the need for great people to help steward this tremendous effort. That’s why we are currently hiring an ADMINISTRATIVE AND MEDIA COORDINATOR. This is a full-time position that is located in our Anderson, South Carolina office.

To learn more about this job, click HERE.

If you feel this role would be an incredible fit for you:

  • Send your resume to

  • Tell us why you would be an incredible fit for this role and our team

  • Include as many specific skill sets and abilities that you possess that would allow you to excel in this role

If you are passionate about helping churches and individuals fund their God-given dreams, send us your resume! 

Fired Up! 

2 ways to enhance the overall stewardship culture at your church

This content has been curated from a recent online event we hosted called, 6 Keys to a Successful Capital Campaign. If you would like to watch an on-demand replay of that event, you can do so HERE.

Man by stream.png

When it comes to spiritual maturity or spiritual DEPTH, most people in your church can be segmented into two groups:

  1. “Shallow Stream”

  2. “Deep Stream”

Those people who are in the shallow stream are at a different place in their spiritual development than those who are in the deep stream, so you need to create two different “on-ramps” to lead them to a deeper level of generosity in your church.

Shallow Stream Believers

Shallow stream believers are those who need coaching, teaching, and discipleship in the fundamental spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading God’s word, and tithing. They are those who are not eating solid spiritual food as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:2.

When it comes to giving, your goal for this demographic of your church is to get them to trust God with their tithe for the very first time.

It may feel like you are spoon-feeding these believers, but at this point in their spiritual journey of generosity, that is what they need.

A great way to on-ramp this group of believers is to issue a tithe challenge at your church.

If you would like to issue a tithe challenge at your church or take your people through a devotional on giving, we offer a resource that gives you everything you need to know on how to execute one!

The 90-Day Tithe Challenge Kit - gives you a complete step-by-step guide on how to conduct an incredible tithe challenge!

Deep Stream Believers

Deep stream believers are those people in your church who are very mature in their relationship with Jesus and actively involved in the work of ministry at your church. These are people who fully understand how to connect with God through prayer, reading His word, and tithing.

Even though these people are very mature in their relationship with Jesus and are faithful tithers, they still have opportunities to take the next step in their spiritual journey of generosity.

This is usually during a capital campaign or special offering. During this seasons at your church, God will call deep stream believers to a heightened level of sacrifice that goes above and beyond their regular tithe. However, you as a pastor or church leader do not know what He is calling them to sacrifice. They have to seek Him themselves.

So, when those seasons of sacrifice come, a great way to on-ramp deep stream believers to deeper levels of generosity is to take them through a devotional that leads them to the feet of Jesus and asks them to obey whatever He impresses on their hearts to financially sacrifice during the next season.

The Imagine Devotional is a done-for-you devotional that we’ve created to teach your deep stream believers how to seek him in a sacrificial giving campaign, and you can download it for FREE.

The two on-ramps to deeper levels of generosity are just one of the keys we talked about in our recent online event, 6 keys to a successful capital campaign. To view a FREE, on-demand replay of this event, click the button below!

4 reasons you should use a capital campaign consultant.

The question we get asked most often is, “Why should we use a capital campaign consultant?”

If you are asking yourself the same question, we’d love to share four reasons you should partner with a capital campaign consulting company.

1- The Bible teaches that impact is multiplied in partnership.

  • Deuteronomy 32:30 says, “How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

  • 1 Kings 5 tells the story of Solomon's and Hiram’s partnership when building God’s Temple in Jerusalem. They were able to accomplish more together than apart and were BOTH better off because of their partnership.

2 - You will raise more money with a partner than you will by yourself.

  • Our statistics show, on average, our partners are raising anywhere between 100% - 150% of their church’s annual budget in a campaign.

  • If you were to lead the campaign without a partner, you could expect to raise between 50% - 75% of your church’s annual budget.

3 - You will avoid unexpected missteps when it comes to strategy and timing.

  • You do not know what you do not know.

  • We have partnered with over 4,500 churches in capital campaigns since 1992. We know the mistakes churches so often make, what effects they will have on a campaign, and how to prevent these things from happening.

  • The challenges you do not even see right now, we have seen 4,500 times before. Our intelligence from our experience will help your campaign be far better than you could ever imagine.

4 - The opportunity cost of an internally-led capital campaign.

  • There IS a cost to conducting an internally-led capital campaign. It is the added workload on your staff and volunteers, and the inability to maximize your church’s full giving potential.

There are many more reasons why partnering with a capital campaign consulting firm is more beneficial than doing a project on your own, and we would love to share those with you as well!

Tomorrow - Thursday, March 22nd - at 2:00 pm EST we are hosting a FREE online called The INJOY Stewardship Guide to Capital Campaigns: 6 Keys to a Successful Fall Campaign and we would love for you to join us! If your church is considering getting into a capital campaign this fall, you need to participate in this event. We will walk you through the 6 most important things you need to know in order to execute a successful capital campaign, so make sure you reserve your spot today!

How to have a successful and exciting debt retirement capital campaign.

Ipad up to the right graph.png

No pastor or church leader likes the idea of doing a capital campaign to retire debt.

Much less, no pastor, church leader, or churchgoer gets EXCITED about the idea of doing a capital campaign to retire debt.

However, there is a way for you to have an EXCITING and SUCCESSFUL debt retirement capital campaign, and we want to tell you how.

Before we do, you must understand four generalities about how Americans feel about debt:

  1. Americans are extremely comfortable with their own debt.

  2. Americans are extremely comfortable with other people’s debt.

  3. Americans don’t like paying off their own debts.

  4. Americans don’t like paying someone else’s debt.

So, in order to have a successful and exciting debt retirement capital campaign, it needs to not be about debt.

You do this by casting the vision for what is on the other side of your church’s debt.

So, ask yourself - if all the funds that are currently going towards debt were freed up, what would you do with those dollars?

What next steps would your church take? What ministries would you be able to launch? What organizations would you be able to financially support? What additional impact could your church have in your community?

If you begin praying through these questions, God will most certainly give you a clear vision of what ministry looks like on the other side of debt.

The urgency to do that which God has called you to do, but you cannot do now because of the debt,  is what will motivate and excite people to give towards your church’s debt retirement capital campaign.  

Casting clear, compelling vision is just one of the keys to launching a successful debt retirement capital campaign. If you are interested in learning more about how to launch a successful capital campaign - about debt retirement or not - join us for our FREE online event on Thursday, March 22 at 2:00 pm EST called The INJOY Stewardship Capital Campaign Guide: 6 Keys to a Successful Fall Campaign.

This content, taught by our Executive Director of Consulting, Chad Aukland, will be incredibly helpful if you are thinking about launching a capital campaign this fall.

So, reserve your spot today and learn how you can have an incredible capital campaign at your church!