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.
Mark is in his twenty-seventh year of serving as an Associational Missions Strategist. He served in western Iowa for almost eight years, and is in his nineteenth year with HCN. He has a passion to see pastors and church leaders grow in their abilities to lead their churches. He continues to have a heart and desire to see new churches planted and God continues to use his strategic thinking skills in this area. Mark also has a wealth of experience in helping churches clarify who God has created them to be, and what they can do best to reach their community. He has had ample opportunities to help churches in times of conflict, and has seen God do exciting things to restore a spirit of harmony, returning churches to a time of fruitfulness. He also helps churches in transition by working with search committees. Mark and Phyllis who were married in November of 2018 have four children and three grandchildren. They will enjoy their combined 87th anniversary in just a few days.