“When you want to change culture, remember, slow is fast.” – Joey Bonifaco
Creekside Bible Church has, for as long as I can remember, desired to do God’s will and has been good at uplifting one another in the midst of difficulty. The pastors who have gone before me have laid this fondation. But two years ago, when I took over as pastor, there was still much that needed to change. And to be honest, to say all was not going well would be a significant understatement. We were shrinking numerically, struggling financially, and lacked biblical unity. We were in desperate need of change.
At that time our congregation committed to working towards being a church that did things right. For us, this meant we were committed to two things: 1) Following God’s commands for church as stated in the New Testament. 2) Doing our best to do things well.
In a culture driven by results, this wasn’t an easy commitment to make. The easier decision would have been to read a book about a successful church or attend a church growth seminar to find out what was working and then to try our best to duplicate it. Instead, we set out to examine and seek God’s will and to strove to figure out how to best live out that will in our context. Instead of dedicating ourselves to getting people in the door, we dedicated ourselves to being obedient to God. We hoped it would “work.”
This past week I was finalizing the presentation for our annual business meeting. Traditionally a church’s annual business meeting is about voting on stuff (ie. the budget proposal), but for our church it is even more about celebrating what God has done in our church and discussing what God might have us do in the next year. This meeting forces me to think about numbers – something I rarely do. As I was looking over the numbers and thinking about what to share with our people I was amazed by the work God has done in and through our congregation in the past two years. In fact, the thought of God’s movement in response to our simple efforts almost brought me to tears.
While God’s movement at our church is awesome and something I desire to share with everyone, I was very hesitant to write this post in this way. My hesitation was in part due to a fear that people will compare our numbers with that of larger churches and diminish the importance and value of what God has done. However, I have decided to put this hesitation aside for four reasons: 1) Even if these numbers seem insignificant to a non-Creekside going reader, those of us in the church can see that they make clear something that we have felt for a while – God is moving. 2) I think this post can be encouraging to pastors of struggling churches. 3) I want people to know that God can and is moving in response to obedience and faithfulness. Churches don’t need all of the bells and whistles to be used by God. 4) Comparing our church (or ourselves) to another is unproductive.
Its important to say one more thing before turning your attention to the infographic below. As you could have guessed, Creekside is not a perfect church. There are areas where we need to be more obedient. We don’t have all the answers. Not all of our people are deeply connected to others in our church. Not everyone is using their gifts to serve. The point of this post is not to say “Look at us, we have it figured out and good things are happening.” Instead, the point is to say, look at God because he is graciously working through us despite our imperfections and inadequacies.
The following infographic represents some of God’s work in and through Creekside since last July:
For more information and pictures, check out the following links:
The Old Church (our new location)