Friday, December 23, 2005

Turn around churches?

Jordon Cooper wrote: Can you name me some mature churches that made big mid-course corrections? Ginghamsburg Church lead by Michael Slaughter comes to mind as does my old employer, Lakeview Church but after that, the list gets quite short.


The church I moved to pastor 2 years ago (Opawa Baptist church) is 96 years old. It was a very typical conservative Baptist church that had been in serious decline after some glory years in the 1970s. In the last few years it has made some radical midcourse corrections. Read some of the story on my blog – over 110 posts (probably almost a book!) – start from the bottom and read upand also the church’s blog.

Now there are some unique factors at work, but I regularly pinch myself in disbelief at what is happening. This year we have seen over 50 people become regular worshippers (many of them 20s-40s). We have partnered with Side Door Arts Trust to take art into public places. We have planted espresso – a 4th emergent congregation.We have commenced intentional spiritual formation, a 24/7 prayer room and a spirituality festival.

I moved to this church because I believe that the real emergent horizon is among mature churches. I hold this for theological reasons. I actually believe in the body of Christ and resurrection and redemption. (See a rant – a simple metal plumbing pipe and why the future of God is indeed, among the people of God.) I also hold for pragmatic reasons that revolve around resource and change dynamics. And for this season of my life, I am called to work among models of emergent+mature in turnaround.

Posted by steve at 10:18 AM


  1. Steve, if special requests for posts are allowed, I’d love to hear how you have found the transition from Graceway to Opawa (2 years in to it now). E.g. have you had to develop your thougths or accpet different things that aren’t exactly your cup of tea (I personally think (for me) of music styles etc that I’d rather not enter into but play a prominent role whether I like it or not)? Any reflections from you along these lines would be fascinating. Has it been harder in different ways than you thought? Would you have done anything different? Do you view emergent with different eyes now you’re at Opawa or has that not made any difference for you? As I say, if special requests are allowed I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this one.

    Comment by Andrew — December 24, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  2. Hmmm. Great questions Andrew. Their are obviously layers to these questions. At some point there is probably a book on Opawa. I’d rather share the theology and practice and would have to think through the implications of mixing up conversations given that a blog is of public. I will have to think about this while I am on holiday in January. Hmmmmm..

    Comment by steve — December 25, 2005 @ 12:41 am

  3. You are the best person to judge boundaries on these things and I totally understand and respect the different conversations on a public blog for a pastor. It’s great to hear things are going so well at Opawa – you sound very happy. Have a great holiday.

    Comment by Andrew — December 26, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

  4. Thanks for this post. I found it very inspiring to read back through you journey.

    Comment by Graham Doel — January 5, 2006 @ 9:04 pm

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