Video campuses grow rural Kansas church 500 percent in eight years

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By Tobin Perry 

Hutchinson, Kan. – When CrossPoint Church added a second worship service across town at an auto supply store, pastor Andy Addis and the church’s leadership didn’t have a grand strategic reason to do so. There was no plan to put churches in key locations around rural Kansas.

Instead, CrossPoint added its second worship location out of desperate necessity.

In 2006 CrossPoint had a good problem. After 30 years of mild growth in the small town of Hutchinson, Kan. (population 30,000), God had been growing the church at barely believable rates—from 120 to more than 600 in the five short years Addis had served as the church’s pastor. They no longer had room for those wanting to attend.

“It was all based on the need for expansion and space,” said Addis (@andyaddis). “It really wasn’t a strategy at first. It developed into that when we saw God was using it in this rural context—that there was a real receptivity to it.”

Eight years later and CrossPoint now has 11 campuses in small, rural locations throughout the state. Some of those locations are as close as 30 minutes away. Others are as far as six hours away.

In the process CrossPoint has grown from 600 attendees to more than 3,000, including 1,800 at the church’s main Hutchinson campus. But the growth hasn’t just been in the number of attendees. Thanks, in part, to the new campuses, the church now baptizes 150 to 200 new members per year, as compared to five or six a year before 2006. Most of the people who go through the church’s membership class, according to the pastor, had little to no prior church experience.

Joy Hendrich had been out of church for several years when a co-worker invited her to the Salina (Kan.) campus four years ago—just as it was getting started. Conditioned by cultural expectations of live preaching, she wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to get accustomed to watching a preacher on video. Yet it didn’t take long for the video preaching to penetrate her heart and the screen just faded away. Four years after making the Salina campus her church home, Hendrich is not only attending worship services regularly, but she’s involved in a small group, active in the church’s baptism ministry and helps out with the children’s ministry.

“I’ve grown so much,” Hendrich said. “It’s almost scary to think of who I was when I first started going to CrossPoint and who I am now.”

Addis has challenged the church to reach one out of every 10 state residents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, close to 2.9 million people call Kansas home.

Addis participated in the Pastors’ Task Force on Evangelistic Impact & Declining Baptisms, convened in 2013 by the North American Mission Board, which recently presented its findings in a report prior to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

When CrossPoint started its first additional campus, Addis preached live at both places. But when residents of a neighboring town 20 minutes away expressed an interest in having a campus in their community (which would become the church’s third campus), Addis and the other leaders didn’t think it made sense to do so. Instead they began experimenting with live music and preaching via video transmitted from the Hutchinson campus.

The decision to broadcast the preaching helped spur the explosive growth of CrossPoint campuses. The church no longer needed to find a dynamic, seminary-trained pastor to lead a new work. Instead, Addis says, broadcasting sermons via video to other campuses allows a church to develop young men to be pastors—strong leaders, shepherds and disciple-makers—even if they’re not gifted preachers. He also adds that video campuses are cheaper to start than many other methods of multiplying preaching points.

“It’s very reproducible,” said Eric Franklin (@ericdotfranklin), who is the church’s campus pastor in Salina. “If there’s a community without an evangelical church, we can pop up a video and get someone to lead worship and we’ve got a Sunday worship service.”

Addis notes the video campus isn’t for every church, and he adds that it shouldn’t be attempted just because it’s trendy.

“We’re not saying this is what you should do,” Addis said. “We’re saying this is what you could do. It just needs to be looked at as another evangelism tool for the church today.”

Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 8/27/2014 1:23:18 AM

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