Tag Archives: Outwardly Focused Ministry

Sunday morning’s visit to The Crossings Church a break from the norm

As I mentioned in my previous post, I visited The Crossings Church near St. Louis over the weekend, and had a great time.

The church meets in a rented space that’s part of a strip mall:

A lot of work went in to turning this old storage space into a worship center:

I especially like this pictorial parody of the Oprah Winfrey endorsed modern day heresy popularly known as The Secret:

Only one tragedy befell me during my time there. I left my Bible on top of the minivan after services were over, and drove off without realizing it until I got home (300 miles away) later that evening. This wasn’t just “a” Bible – this was “THE” Bible as far as my own personal use goes. That was the Bible that was given to me as a gift by my best friend shortly after becoming a Christian, the Bible that I’ve carried with me to every seminar or workshop I’ve ever been to, the Bible I’ve used in 90% of the evangelistic studies I’ve had with people, and the Bible that I used in every single class I had at Harding University. It’s not strictly for sentimental reasons that it pains me to have lost that Bible – the main hurt comes from this: pages upon pages of my notes are to be found in the margins of that Bible, and those jewels aren’t easily replaceable. Anyway, we’ll see if by some miracle it turns up. I doubt it will.

To the topic of Sunday morning – my time at The Crossings was great. As I mentioned yesterday, 20 freshman showed up as a result of the campus ministry activities over the weekend. They were greeted Sunday morning at The Crossings with a warm handshake, a hot cup of coffee, an exciting atmosphere, and a practical lesson by Robert Cox.

The programming on Sunday morning is a bit different at The Crossings when compared with more traditional Churches of Christ. I’ll walk you through a couple of quick observations I made, but first check out this video of the service:

1) Worship/Singing

The Crossings is a church plant that’s three and a half years old. The congregation has grown from twenty something members when they started, to well over two hundred in a relatively short amount of time. Quite a few in church planting circles today don’t believe it’s possible for a church to do that without a killer band, but The Crossings is acappella.

Every time I visit, I’m impressed by the level of energy and excitement that goes along with the singing at The Crossings. Visitors have a great time too.

2) New Christians are given special attention.

How many churches have you been part of that pay special attention to new Christians in the worship assembly?  Sometimes a sentence is printed about them in the church bulletin, but in many instances the larger church body doesn’t realize who the new Christians are. I really appreciate how new Christians are introduced to the larger body at The Crossings, and believe this is a very healthy thing for churches to practice.

3) The “invitation”

Robert does the invitation a bit differently at The Crossings than most other churches. Every person who walks through the front door is given a folded bulletin with a card inside. The card iteslf is pretty large (the size of a half-sheet of notebook paper). When Robert gets to the end of his lesson, he doesn’t call for people to come to the front of the assembly where everyone can see them if they’d like to respond. Instead, respondants are asked to fill out the card and turn that in, and a member of the leadership team will contact them promptly to address their need.

I think a lot of people hear a lesson in a church and feel the need to respond, but often don’t because they are embarrassed about going up in front of everyone. Using the card isn’t the only way, but certainly one way to avoid that.

4) No communion on Sunday mornings – reserved for small groups.

This is another key difference you’ll find at The Crossings. Communion isn’t taken on Sunday mornings – it’s taken on Sunday evenings in small groups. Small groups are the lifeblood of The Crossings Church. Members aren’t members unless they commit to being part of a small group, and the groups themselves are reserved just for the members. From what I understand, guests are not invited to the small groups that meet on Sunday night (their are several other meetings throughout the week that are for members to bring guests to).

I can see the benefits of having a meeting reserved strictly for those who’ve made the commitment to follow Christ. It would allow your group to delve into deeper teachings without as much fear about leaving anyone behind, and would also serve as a “safe” place for the discipling relationships to flourish. After all, if someone needs to tell me in a group setting that my marriage sucks and I’m not treating my wife like I should, I would prefer they do that in front of others I’m comfortable with and can trust rather than a person I’ve just met and who doesn’t know me and I don’t know them.

Anyone have thoughts to share regarding any of these things?

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Outwardly Focused Leadership = Outwardly Focused Ministry

 

Home of the OFallon, MO, chapter of A Cross Between Campus Ministry
Home to the O’Fallon, MO, chapter of A Cross Between Campus Ministry

Yesterday I arrived on the campus of Lindenwood University, and after parking and walking to the front of the student center here is the sight I see:

(Facebook users need to click here for the video to show up)

There were a whole lot of students – most of them freshmen brand new to Lindenwood – hanging out having a good time with members of ACB (the campus ministry led by my buddy and fellow CMU board member Kerry Cox). The crowd got bigger as the night progressed.

Kerry Cox

Kerry came to Lindenwood three or four years ago and helped to plant ACB alongside a church – The Crossings. When he registered ACB as a student organization and began holding events on campus (like the annual rootbeer kegger, mud wrestling, or 80s skate night just to name a few), he got the university’s attention. Literally hundreds of students would show up to ACB’s events, and they were so successful the university eventually offered Kerry a job as the student activities director.

Kerry accepted the job, and his new position has served to enhance ACB’s already outstanding ministry. I’ve been priviledged to witness how it’s been working for them over the past couple of days.

Two observations:

1) Tons of “unaffiliated” students show up to the events.

By unaffiliated I mean they are guests having no church home or relationship with God.

Why do they show up? Because they have fun at these events. I might add, it’s also good clean fun. Check out these pictures from Friday:

A mechanical bull is always good for some laughs at other peoples expense.

A mechanical bull is always good for a few laughs at other people’s expense.

Notice the inflatable in the background

Bungee Racing - harder than it looks!

Bungee racing – harder than it looks!

They also had a DJ playing non-profanity laden music. This is a random dance off that took place with a white kid having a seizure in the middle.

Here are a couple of pics I snapped tonight at another event Kerry organized – movie night at the football field:

It’s kind of hard to see, but that’s a movie screen down front.

Dozens of Lindenwood movie watchers with ACB members sprinkled throughout.

Dozens of Lindenwood student movie watchers with ACB students sprinkled throughout.

There were over 300 students that showed up for the event Friday night, and I estimate over 150 for the movie night on Saturday. The majority of the people that showed aren’t members of the campus ministry, but a high percentage of them were – it was important for the ministry members to be there. That brings me to observation number 2:

 

2) Ministry members understand they need to be at events like this for the purpose of meeting new people and connecting them with the campus ministry and church.

They’re there because they care about the ministry, and they care about reaching lost people. Most of them were saved by Jesus through the ministry, and were connected with the ministry because someone else reached out to them (often at a campus event). They want to share that gift with others.

Do ministry members also come to events to have a good time themselves? Of course. They’ll have a good time, but their good time is not the main reason they’re there. They’re there to build relationships with new people and to show them love! They might chill with someone at an event then set up time later in the week to grab coffee or catch a movie, invite them to a cross chat (a Thursday night Bible study with an evangelistic slant), or invite them to church on Sunday. I expect to see a lot of the people from Friday and Saturday’s parties in the morning at worship service.

At tonight’s movie tons of ACB members brought fliers with them for this Thursday’s cross chat and were passing them out to the people they were interacting with. I expect they’ll have a good turn out of new students.

Why do the ministry members value bringing these new people in? Because Kerry and the other leaders talk about it a lot, and the ministry members are sold on the purpose. That purpose is to make disciples. The leaders understand that and agree upon it, and they articulate the purpose to their group members regularly. It’s not just talk for them either – they also model that purpose. They’re focused on reaching students themselves, and those they’re mentoring see that and respond accordingly.

Outwardly focused leadership = outwardly focused groups.

Ministry leaders – you’re wasting your breath preaching evangelism to your students if you aren’t reaching people yourself!

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