Our new year is now about 25 days old, and it’s already moving quickly. As I reflect on last year, I’m reminded it was filled with many wonderful things that allow us to look back and celebrate. On the church side of things, Crossings has yet again finished a year breaking every record we’ve ever kept. More people trusted us with their spiritual journey by becoming a part of the Crossings family. Every ministry area saw increase.
If you go back and look at our previous goals for any given year, you will not find a goal that said we want to increase the number of people attending our church. Yet, more people came to our church than ever before. We did 13 Christmas Eve services, and it turns out we could have added at least two more.
We also offered Sunday morning worship services on December 23 and then started our Christmas Eve services that afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Between 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning December 23 and Monday evening December 24 at 8:00 p.m., there were 18 services. You have no idea how fortunate I am to have a stellar creative team and worship staff who put all this together. There are no words to thank them.
As I arrived home on December 24, I fantasized about renting out the Chesapeake Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder, in 2019. It seats 20,000 people. We could have one service with all of us together. It would have almost been full this year. But the expense to do that, as good as it may sound, is not how Crossings chooses to spend money, and I’m thankful for that.
The people of our church gave more than any year in our history, and this was without a major building fund going on, which typically sees larger amounts given beyond the tithe. I talked about money this year for about eight minutes in a message in late October.
This all happened because our focus has been and always will be Jesus: following Jesus, putting Jesus at the center of life, doing what Jesus did, living like he calls us to live, and giving him the best we can in every area of our lives. That’s the real prize of 2018 for me.
Our people simply responded to the preaching and teaching, the classes and Bible studies for every age, support groups and Celebrate Recovery. Thousands volunteered in all of the ministries, including involvement in the local schools, prison ministries, the Clinic, and the Community Center.
I could go on. For all the days it seemed complex and rather difficult to lead--and there were many--I look back and realize it was worth every moment.
We walk into 2019 with some of the most significant plans and dreams we’ve ever had. The biggest event on our list is celebrating our 60th Anniversary as a church.
We will take some time to look back and remember how God has given us “immeasurably more than all we asked for or imagined,” but we will also spend even more time making sure we have learned from our founders. We will continue to be as aggressive, sacrificial, and enthusiastic as they were, all for the purpose of shining the light of Christ as boldly and brightly as they did.
Our church started as a mission of the Shartel Church of God in downtown Oklahoma City. They sent 55 people to a small rented church building on the far northern edge of the city to begin this new church. That far northern edge is not far from an area of our city we call Midtown these days.
The first pastor was Dwight Dye. He and his wife Sue led the church for a very productive ten years. The church attendance more than tripled, the gentleman who owned the building became a believer and gave them the building, and further additions were made.
Larry and Maxine McCaw led the church for the next decade. Maxine, a Grubbs family member and cousin of my father, and I grew up hearing a great deal about Oklahoma City. My dad was a frequent guest speaker.
The third pastor, Tedd, came out of my dad’s church in Dayton, Ohio called the Salem Church of God. Tedd was a very instrumental youth leader during my high school years. It was Tedd who made the call to me, asking me to come and spend a week with him and his wife Susan in Oklahoma City.
Two months later, in a shocking change of course for me, I moved to Oklahoma City. Fourteen months later, Tedd left our church and a new pastor from Northern California, Larry Ortman, became the fourth pastor of the church. Larry and Joyce were fantastic pastors, but felt led back to the west coast two years later. The church asked me to become the interim pastor, which I agreed to do. Through the changes of the previous four years, we’d lost a few people, but there were still 145 people who believed we could have an impact in this city. They were convinced God had great plans for their future.
In August of 1985, I became the interim pastor, a role I’ve had now for 33 years! Their largest step of faith ever taken is probably the Sunday in October of 1985 when they voted me in as the new Senior Pastor. One of the first things we did that fall was to boldly pray that God would allow us to reach 200 people.
If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, think again.
Our journey is the result of people choosing to take radical, humanly irrational steps of faith, simply because that is what God has called us to do. They just did what the Bible calls followers of Christ to do.
We’ve decided to not throw ourselves a party in 2019. We will still celebrate--and we should!--but we will celebrate the faithfulness of God. We will thank Him for allowing us the privilege of this journey.
There is much more to the story that I will share in future blogs. Stay tuned.