Author’s Note: I’ve decided that I’m going to use this blog as an experiment of sorts. We’re going through a lot of changes in our congregation. I thought that someone out there may be struggling with the same things and looking for guidance. If you know a discouraged church leader who could use a starting point, please direct them here. Although, there is ones caveat:
We don’t know what we’re doing, and we’re not sure it’s going to work. It may not help at all. It may move us to a place where God restores. It may move us to a place where God has other plans. I don’t know. Yet. But I do know that God is good and His Spirit will lead us right where He wants us to be.
I want to invite you to follow along with the Crosspointe story. I want to invite you to follow the progress, for good or bad, so that I can show you that you are not alone. God is working among you.
Last July (2016) leadership came together and did something most churches won’t ever do: admit things aren’t good. Not that things weren’t going well, but that the body was ill and dying.
After much prayer, fasting, and discussion that had began to not to plateau, but to decline. When we moved into our current facility in 2005, we were averaging around 400 on Sunday. For our area…that’s BIG. Shortly after moving in, things begin to decline.
When I began serving here in 2012, we were down to about 250…and until about this time last year, we continued to decline. About 138 was our average. We realized we had to do something. We came up with a three-fold approach to present this to the congregation.
Through prayer, we saw that we had three (3) options before us as a church: Relaunch, Resist, or Retire.
We presented it to the entire congregation. We’re facing significant difficulties on many fronts that need changes in our approach. We made it know that we understood our church was not healthy. The body was sick…and so we presented that we could either relaunch, resist, or retire.
Relaunching would mean redefining why God has put us here, who we are, and how we will live that out. A complete rebuild of the culture/DNA of our congregation from the ground up. Getting specific and intentional.
Retire/Die with dignity would mean to pass our blessings on to an agreed church and/or organization. We would dissolve while passing on what God has blessed us with for another group to use.
Resist/Do nothing. We could pretend the ship wasn’t sinking. We could continue slow-dancing in the burning room. We could die a slow, gasping, painful, angry death by refusing to change and seek the help we needed.
The elders decided retiring and resisting were not options. At all. I asked the question that no one wants to ever ask in a church. I asked: Are you willing to do whatever we need to do to partner with God to turn this around?
It was a resounding yes, and so we took it to the congregation – they would decide where we went.
Through a series of congregational meetings, we started the process of moving forward. These meetings were fraught with anger, sadness, and maliciousness, but we listened.
We didn’t respond when attacked. We didn’t rise up to defend ourselves. We didn’t fight back. We listened. We absorbed. We took video. We watched it. We took notes. We prayed. We gave everyone an open mic. We combined everything said, and we decided that we needed to relaunch.
What did we hear? That people were hurting. That there was division. That communication wasn’t happening between ministries. That people didn’t even know what was going on 99% of the time. That people are burnt-out from over-serving. That morale was at an all-time low. That people wanted to see us change. They wanted to worship God. They wanted to serve. They felt helpless and hopeless.
The most overwhelming this we stared down was a point that every single one of us often overlooks:
People wanted to be heard.
They weren’t looking for us to solve the problems…they weren’t looking for instant answers…they just wanted to know that we heard them. That we heard their frustrations, desires, dreams, and questions. That we understood the confusion at the ground-floor.
They wanted to be heard.
After much prayer, fasting, discussion, God provided the vision and the direction. We begin the process of relaunching Crosspointe Church of Christ. We faced the old adage:
“It’s easier to give birth than it is to resurrect the dead.”
We also went into this knowing that most churches do not survive this process.
So, with mission/vision from God in hand. With God guiding us. With our minds overwhelmed and our hearts terrified – we stuck our big toe in the water.
After more prayer, fasting, and discussion God provided the vision and the direction. We began the process of relaunching Crosspointe Church of Christ. We begin letting God define what we were all about. We begin letting Jesus lead His church again.
Some members wanted to (and still want to) go back to Egypt – the good ‘ole days. But, we saw that the good ‘ole days weren’t all that good. The good ‘ole days set in place toxic systems and structures that brought us to this juncture. But here we were, “For such a time as this…” Some folks jumped ship. Some folks fought. Some folks sat down.
So what did we do?
What did we encounter?
What’s the progress?
Stay tuned to see.
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:3, ESV)
I love you, but Jesus loves you more,