Professional Dissertations DMin
Leadership Strategy for Sustaining Mission-Focused Vision in Years Seven to Ten of Crosswalk Fellowship
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
In January 2007, my wife and I led a core team of passionate Christian believers to start Crosswalk Fellowship as a parachute church plant. The plant was a part of the local Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventist church planting initiative. The project had a successful start and reached the high standards to qualify for church status in the Texas Conference in less than one and a half years. Crosswalk continued to experience steady growth during the first five years of existence; However, in year five, people escaping crises happening simultaneously in the other two existing English Seventh-day Adventist churches in north Dallas brought a sudden inflow of existing Adventist members to Crosswalk. Average attendance increased from 135 to more than 180 in less than two months. There were three red flags that warned the Crosswalk leadership team that this rapid growth was going to be temporary one.
1. More than 95% of the inflow of members were long-baptized Seventh-day Adventist members from the two English churches experiencing leadership challenges.
2. As attendance at Crosswalk increased notably, for the next four months there was an increase in the tithe giving of the church, but no additional increase in local giving, which indicated no financial support from the transferring members for local Crosswalk ministries. 3. Many of these new members lived farther than 40 minutes away from our Crosswalk location. Although the Crosswalk church’s leadership team anticipated that the attendance increase was going to be temporary and that the majority of those same Adventists would go back to their churches once pastoral changes were completed there, what the team did not anticipate was the impact a drop in attendance of 30-40 Crosswalk people would have on our relatively young, growing church. A group of the members who joined Crosswalk Fellowship as part of this influx of people expressed a desire to remain at Crosswalk, if some of their demands were met. Those demands included that the style of the worship service and our approach to "missional" ministry be changed to their liking, which was not in alignment with what our demographic studies of Frisco found, nor what those who are not part of a church community relate to. The leadership team had to make a difficult decision. It could choose to remain faithful to our existing mission focused vision and remain relevant to the unchurched, surrounding community but run the risk of losing these non-committed to our vision, the recently-transplanted Adventist members. The other option was to compromise on our missional vision, acquiescing to the transplanted Adventist demands by reshaping the church to fit the traditional style preferences of this particular group of believers who would consider officially transferring their membership from the other English Adventist churches to Crosswalk. This way Crosswalk could retain the increase in attendance numbers. The decision was easier than the consequences that followed. The leadership team chose to remain focused on our mission to share the gospel of Jesus with the unchurched rather than to grow by changing the church to attract existent believers whose values did not fit the Crosswalk missional culture. At the beginning of 2016, pastoral transitions were completed in the two churches from where most of the Adventists who had joined Crosswalk during the attendance surge came from. The outflow of people happened as suddenly as the unexpected inflow did. Most of the people who came from those churches returned to their churches. At that same time three of our original core team leaders and their families had to move away because of job transitions. Both above events created a sudden drop in the average attendance of the church to the low 110s and created a feeling that the church was in decline. The outcome was a loss of momentum and a crisis of how the church could recapture growth again.
A few of the key ministry leaders of the church and I developed a new leadership strategy to sustain the mission-focused vision and regain the growth momentum. As the visioning strategy was completed it had to be shared and adopted initially by the larger team of church leaders. The strategy included this first step: redesigning the yearly visioning leadership retreat so it would solely focus on recapturing the passion of God for lost people, realigning all our ministry efforts with the outreach focused vision. Secondly, we wanted to redesign the way we set our church's yearly financial budget so it reflected the mission-based culture of the church. Third, we had to create a communication strategy that would help us promote the vision so it was adopted in all aspects of our church ministry. A fourth emphasis was to develop an intentional process focused on engaging, empowering and multiplying a greater number of leaders that could help execute the vision. A fifth step within the strategy was to raise the leadership parameters of our church elders so they could function as stronger spiritual counselors while at the same time engage them to coach and develop other ministry leaders. The sixth step in the strategy was to implement a personal, informal interview with every new person expressing an interest in joining the church via transfer, baptism, or profession of faith, using those interviews as vision-casting opportunities to explain what is expected of them if they chose to become members of Crosswalk Fellowship. The final element of the strategy was to initiate quarterly visioning town-hall conversations, open to the entire congregation. -- Results The full strategy was developed during two and a half years, starting in the middle of 2015. The implementation was completed in pieces, starting in the fall of 2016. Crosswalk saw positive results immediately. The average attendance grew from 103 in October of 2016, to 120-plus people by mid- 2017, and 127 by the end of 2019. Other numbers indicating positive growth were the regular attendees, (people attending the church at least once a month) which increased from 130 to 170. From 2017 to 2019 the church saw an increase in the average attendance of non-church members, reaching 32 per week. During the same period, baptisms grew from an average of two to five per year prior to 2016, to nine in 2017, seven in 2018 and nine by May of 2019. Other growth was seen in the increase of leaders and members of all ages engaged in active ministry, the addition of two new sabbath school classes, the introduction of four new small groups, and the forming of two new praise teams. Finally, Crosswalk also experienced a doubling of the number of community businesses that sponsored our annual family friendly kids fair, and more than a 10% increase in local church budget giving.
As a church adopts a missional vision it also must adopt a strategy to sustain it, or unexpected factors will derail it. Retaining a missional vision is key to church growth momentum for any church plant or established congregation. It requires multi-aspect strategies to help make God’s passion for reaching the unchurched become a part of the passion of all church attendees. Once the outreach-focused vision becomes a shared vision by a majority of the members within a congregation, it naturally allows God to increase the worship community’s ministry effectiveness, and results in facilitating more non-churched people finding their way back to God.
Christian leadership; Crosswalk Fellowship (The Colony, Tex.); Church development, New; Mission of the church; Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Southwestern Union Conference. Texas Conference
Levterov, Boyan, "Leadership Strategy for Sustaining Mission-Focused Vision in Years Seven to Ten of Crosswalk Fellowship" (2022). Professional Dissertations DMin. 756.
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