My favorite memory from my seminary education days is the “rabbit trails” that Dr. T. W. Hunt would take us down in the midst of one of his lectures. God has since called him home, but you might remember him as the author of the study guide Prayer Life: Walking in Fellowship with God. It along with Dr. Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God have been two resources that I have regularly recommended and returned to when I need to be reminded of the basics of the Christian walk.
Dr. Hunt taught a music class that was a basic requirement for those of us who were pursuing a Master of Divinity. I remember a few things about music from the class, but more about developing an attitude of genuine thankfulness in my prayer life. One particular rabbit trail was imprinted upon my mind as Dr. Hunt began to give thanks for silverware, toothbrushes, and other common everyday tools we take for granted.
As a typical seminary student, we lived a very frugal life. However, as a non-traditional student who had walked away from an upper-middle-class vocation with three older children, we were living at a level significantly below what we had grown accustomed to living. God used the idea of being thankful for “small insignificant” things to get my attention. I must admit that it is easy to slide back into the entitlement mindset as a typical affluent American.
As a typical American, we rent a storage unit to hold “the stuff” that our house can’t hold. And yes, as a typical suburban American, we live in a nice sized home filled with lots of stuff. Normally, we would already be on the road connecting with family. But this Thanksgiving our plans are different. It is 2020! We will not be traveling for our traditional family gathering in Oklahoma. The recent COVID flare-up has taken that option off the table.
But we are deeply thankful for the fact that my wife Phyllis is home from the hospital and recovering from her bout with COVID. Having lost my first wife to a sudden infection, having Phyllis in the hospital brought back a flood of memories. So once again, God is reminding me to be thankful. This time it is for life itself. Thank you, Lord, for your compassion and care for Phyllis. Thank you, Jesus, for the salvation and eternal hope that You alone provide.
My prayer is that Thanksgiving 2020 will be a time when you and your family can give thanks to God for the multitude of “little insignificant things” that He has provided. I feel so unworthy of His love and provision. Thank You Lord! Forgive me Lord! Thank You Lord!
When Pastor Mark McClintick resigned as pastor of the Community Bible Church (CBC) in January, he introduced the church elders to Mark Elliott, Heartland Church Network’s Associational Mission Strategist. Mark Elliott preached the first Sunday in February which was their first Sunday without Pastor McClintick. After the worship service, he met with the congregation for a question and answer time and to discuss next steps.
Over the next several weeks, Mark met with the elders, who have served as the pastor search committee, for a series of training sessions. When the COVID pandemic hit, the final sessions moved on-line. Community Bible Church’s building is located four miles west of Crofton, NE with a population of 726. For those not familiar with the area Crofton is located just fifteen miles southwest of Yankton, SD. CBC is a healthy small church, but is not able to financially support a full-time pastor.
Mark Elliott reached out to long-time colleague, Buck Hill, who has served Southern Baptists in the Dakotas for several decades. Through their conversation, Mark was introduced to and visited with Pastor Jeff Mueller of Restore Church in Yankton, a five year old church plant. Mark then visited with Pastor Mueller, who was serving bi-vocationally, about the possibility of working with CBC and the “option” of serving two bi-vocational churches. Hearing some openness to prayerfully consider it, Mark then visited with the elders of CBC. Obviously, it was not something the search committee had considered, but they were open to meeting with Pastor Mueller and discussing the options.
To make a long story short, after multiple conversations, meetings, and times of prayer, the pastor search committee presented a proposal to the church on November 1 (see below) and on November 8th, Pastor Jeff came for a Q & A time after the morning service. During the next week search committee members visited with church members seeking to learn what concerns they may have as well as answer any and all questions. On Sunday the 15th the members voted unanimously (with one abstention) to approve the proposal.
Vision is what gives a local church purpose and both shapes and expresses its values. Our original purpose statement and our Mission and Core Values declare that Community Bible is about teaching the Bible, evangelism and having an impact on our communities. As we have prayerfully considered what should shape the church into the future we have embraced this vision: a thriving gospel-centered church that is intentionally serving the larger Crofton area and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Over the years both our church and our communities have changed. We have agreed that we intend to continue as a church. But we also would recognize that we are not realizing the vision and that change is needed.
We, the search committee of Community Bible, have spent much of this past year discussing, consulting, and praying in order to seek the best way for us to fulfill the vision.
This is our proposal:
Close Community Bible Church and start a new church, Restore Crofton, with Jeff Mueller as pastor. We are grateful for the heritage of Community Bible Church. We have much to celebrate and give thanks for. Yet the church has come to a place where we in honesty are not realizing the vision. Seeking to call a new pastor and making changes to the current church by closing the church for two or three months, we will have opportunity to plan and prepare for the new launch. During this time we encourage our body to attend Restore Yankton and get better acquainted with that church family and the life and values we are embracing.
An important aspect of the closing will be our communicating to the community that Community Bible is not gone, but rather that something new is coming. The launch of Restore Crofton will be well planned and publicized, shaped by our vision of reaching into the community to serve it and present the invitation of the gospel.
Restore Crofton will be an autonomous church. It will be a new church with a new biblical foundation. We will have our own building, finances, and leadership. In ministry and outreach principles and practice we will be a sister church to Restore Yankton.
We believe this is the best way for the vision of the church to be realized.
The Search Committee
Pray for Pastor Jeff Mueller, the leaders, and members as Community Bible Church makes the transformation to become Restore Crofton.
Retiring in April 2022, Mark R. Elliott served as a Director of Missions (Associational Mission Strategist) in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska for almost three decades. He is a strong advocate for obedience and Biblically based disciple making. As such, he knows that making healthy disciples requires Christian leaders to be constantly pursuing spiritual maturity—be lifelong learners. Because of the time constraints of ministry, most pastors focus their reading list on resources that assist them in teaching and preaching the Word of God. As such, books focusing on church health, leadership development, and church growth tend to find their way to the bottom of the stack. With that reality in mind, Mark has written discussion summaries on several books that have helped him to personally grow in Christ and that tend to find themselves on the bottom of most pastor’s stack. Many pastors have found them helpful as they are able to more quickly process great insights from other pastors and authors.