By Brian Anderson, Senior Pastor
I was the Pastor at First Baptist Church of Jackson, a great church, and was seeking a way to expand its ministry. We all realized that we needed to do more to reach the new generations in our community. Late in 2002 the church began a contemporary worship service, hoping to reach out to these unchurched young people. The problem was, it was extremely difficult to reach out to both the traditional and non-traditional people with equal commitment. The church tried to work these things out, but it proved very difficult to attempt to do both at the same time. This and other issues created unfortunate stress for this loving church. What could we do?
There was a group of members at the church who were praying diligently about how we might fulfill this burden to reach new generations. These leaders were deeply burdened by the fact that in the previous 10 years the city of Jackson had grown by over 5,000, but the average attendance of the churches in Jackson had remained the same! Something had to be done! Slowly, there was a growing conviction that God was leading them to start a new church, designed “from the ground up” as a contemporary congregation. These leaders asked me and another staff member to pray about joining them, and the more I prayed, the more it seemed this was the direction God was leading. They asked the members of FBCJ for their blessing, over 80% of whom were able to give it, and together we started CrossRoads Fellowship in September 2003.
Those early days were incredibly exciting! We made early commitments to reach the new generations and non-traditional people of all ages. We began with worship, including contemporary music; practical and interesting preaching, drama, extensive use of video and other innovative worship elements. We met in the basement of the Elks Lodge, on Rt. D in Jackson. We had no idea whether 20 or 200 would show up to worship with us that first Sunday. I was busy messing around with setting up lights and chairs before the service when one of our people said, “Brian, come here. I want to show you something.” She led me outside and showed me the parking lot. It was full! The drive way was full, and a line of cars snaked down Rt. D and disappeared over the hill! That morning we had over 280 in attendance! People from all over the area had heard about the new contemporary church that was beginning and came to see what God was going to do. Our celebration was amazing. Lives where changed. Eternity impacted. It was beautiful.
The rest of that year saw the church move to Jackson High School Auditorium for worship, and the founding of several key ministries, including Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry for teens, Preschool for … well … preschoolers (obviously), and Small Group Ministry for adults. Our style of worship and presentation of the Gospel has seen many people, mostly adults, giving their hearts to Christ and receiving eternal salvation. We baptized in a stock tank we called the “cow Jacuzzi” at a church fellowship at the Schutte’s farm. Since then we’ve done baptisms at the Cape city pool, school parking lot and in the park. Our greatest joy is to see lives restored and renewed by the love of God!
CrossRoads is working! We are reaching new generations and non-traditional people who had either given up on church, or had never had an interest in it to begin with! The non-traditional elements of this ministry go far beyond the worship service, and impact the way we grow as believers (Life groups in the homes), the structure and leadership of our church (Leadership Team led), how we share our faith (low pressure, high impact), and everything else that makes a church a church. The vision of a church that reaches the new generations and non-traditional people of all ages has become an exciting reality!
As you can see, we are excited about CrossRoads!