Building a Church

Today is the tenth anniversary of Shelby Crossings’ first worship service in our current location–on Nov. 21, 2004. I remember it well, because it happened to have been the first Sunday my family visited Shelby Crossings. It would be almost five years later before God providentially led that I would be called as the second pastor of this wonderful faith fellowship.

For those who don’t know the history, the previous four years, Shelby Crossings had met for worship at a school in Pelham, so it was quite a move down I-65 to Calera. The relocation was motivated by a couple of things, primarily the growth in Calera where so many people were moving and the need for a dynamic new church to reach them. There were also plans for building from even before the move; land was purchased, architectural drawings were done, and signs were put up on the property announcing that construction would begin soon.
But things changed.
There was an economic downturn–our generation’s version of the Great Depression–and some upheaval and struggles within the fellowship. Some people left….okay, lots of people did…and construction got delayed. The dates on the sign for the projected move-in to the new worship center came and went, and there was no sign of a building. Eventually, out of necessity (and God’s sovereignty), the land was sold back to its original owners. And we continued to rent.
People often ask me, as the pastor, “When are y’all going to build a church?” I tell them, just as often, that we are doing that right now. We might eventually have a building of our own where our church can meet, but we must never confuse bricks and mortar with “the church.” And no matter where we gather on Sundays, we continue to seek to be a “diverse community of believers committed to developing passionate followers of Christ to impact the world.”
By God’s grace we have regained our health as a church body and become stable financially, and He is doing great things in the life of our fellowship. We have been actively praying and seeking His will about where He may want to move us, as we continue to get our financial house in order in preparation for when that move comes. The good news is, we are not strapped with overhead or debt, just trying to pay a mortgage, so we are free to invest in people-centered disciple-making ministry, even as we rent.
Along the way, we have also invested almost $200,000 in missions causes locally and around the world these past five years, for which we may have to wait till eternity to fully see the return. There have been countless stories of lives changed, of families restored, of people who had given up hope finding it once again. The Lord has been good to us, and I am very grateful.
I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the next ten years, whether we are worshiping in a warehouse or a beautifully constructed worship center. Either way, Jesus will continue to build His church (Matt. 16:18), wherever we are.
I’m sure glad we’re in this thing together, and in this season of the year where we focus on giving thanks, I count my blessings daily to be a part of such a great church. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you again this Sunday.
–Pastor Ken