Crosspointe Church of Christ is a congregation in transition.
We’re in the middle of a re-launch. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been fun – all the time. We’ve overcome some significant challenges, and discovered many others. As I said in my previous post, I’m not sure what the end result will be, but we’re trusting God for that.
We were a church in stagnation. We were a people without a vision. We were on the downward spiral. A lot of congregations accept this fate and continue the slow decent to death over a few more decades. We decided that wasn’t an option. At all.
As we listened to the results of our congregational meetings, we begin to notice a trend. We were a very inward-focused church. It wasn’t on purpose. It wasn’t supposed to be. It wasn’t in the plan. Yet, here we were. We are in our third building. The church prayed, sacrificed, grew, and gave for twenty years. That dream became reality twelve years ago.
From my understanding (because I wasn’t here, yet), we were at 400 members on “opening day.” They pace kept up for a few years. Research shows that new construction leads to new members. But about three years in; this is where the problems started.
In our previous facility there was no room. The church had two services, and classroom space was very limited. Moving out to our present facility, there was a whole lot of room. Over the course of time, people did what people do: separated into groups. The groups became ministries, and then they became isolated.
In-fighting, communication breakdowns, lack of cohesion, and a loss of morale. The congregation was still doing a lot of “stuff,” but they weren’t reaching a lot of people. Here’s what we discovered last summer:
We built a church, but we didn’t build the Church.
That is one tough pill to swallow. Hadn’t God blessed us with everything we had? Hadn’t God brought us here for “such a time as this?” Didn’t God orchestrate everything. The answer is a resounding, “yes!” We prayed, God answered. We gave, God multiplied. But here we were in 2016, with fewer people than ever, a lot of discouragement, and a lot of confusion.
We took the notes from the congregational meetings and we read them, compiled them, and re-read. We prayed, read Scripture, and wracked our brain for answers. When the answers didn’t come, we got frustrated.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table one night. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t pray. I was beyond frustrated and angry. As I watched the laptop cursor blink, as I stared into the white screen, I gave up. I quit. I stopped. I walked out.
I went out onto the back porch and looked at the sky and begin talking to God. I told Him how tired I was. I told Him how discouraged and angry I had become. I told Him that I was sick of it. I told him I quit. And then I told Him that if He had any ideas, I’d love to know. And then I hit a watershed moment in my life. I said, “God, you’ve got to show up or Crosspointe isn’t going to make it. She’s your body. You created her. You know what you have in store for us. We give up. I give up. Please, give me your vision.”
I stood there in the silence for a few minutes. And then it happened. God put something into my heart and brain that ignited a fire in my bones. He let my thoughts stumble upon the one thing that seemed so obvious. The one thing all churches say they’re doing but might not be. The one thing that actually mattered.
We were trying to reach the wrong people!
We had built our congregation, our ministries, our programs, all around church people! We were a congregation designed by church people for church people.
Most congregations are trying to get sheep from other congregations to come join. We’re stuck on a cycle of shuffling members from one congregation to another. One congregation does great for a while and everybody goes there. It plateaus, and people begin to leave. Another body rises up, and people flock to it. It’s a vicious cycle, but we do it. Why? Because we’re not reaching the right people!
I went back in and typed out what was on my heart. I stayed up until late into the night. I took my thoughts to the elders and it was a “AHA!” moment! And so we took all our information, we took a look at every program, ministry and dollar. And we asked, “Who are we trying to reach?” Who has God put us here to speak life to? What is the Holy Spirit waiting to do through us? How can we stop focusing on ourselves and instead focus on our neighbors?
Who was our new audience? The unchurched. If you’re reading, you’re thinking, “duh, Scott,” but let me challenge you to think what that means? It doesn’t mean people who don’t go to your congregation? It means people who haven’t heard the Gospel. It is people with zero religious affiliation. It is the outcast, the homeless, the hooker, and the middle-class family. It is 63% of our county. It is the reason the church exists: to bind up the broken-hearted, to set the captives free, to bless the world.
The church is not here to cater to herself. We don’t exist to make ourselves feel good. We aren’t here to make ourselves comfortable. We’re here to “
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20
So we changed our focus, which changed the entire structure of Crosspointe. And we rolled up our sleeves and got busy.
We decided to become a church for the unchurched. A place that people who weren’t/aren’t Christians would feel comfortable coming. We sought to become a refuge in the middle of all the chaos. We sought the very heart of God, and He delivered.
We’ll pick up there, next time!