Saturday, February 13, 2016

Crossroads Celebrates Sweet 16

            Crossroads Community Church is hosting a “Sweet 16 Celebration” on Feb. 21, to celebrate 16 years of ministry in Stokesdale. The service will include special music, and stories of the church’s work in Stokesdale and around the world. Guest speakers will encourage the congregation as they look to the future. Dinner will be served to all in attendance.

            On a Sunday morning in February 2000, Crossroads Community Church held its first public worship service in the old Stokesdale Elementary School cafeteria. Today the church has found its mission in “leading people into life-changing community in Christ,” according to founding pastor David Bailey. “We encourage people to mature from the inside-out,” he says. “That means you Center on God, Connect in relationship, then Change your world.”

            Since 2000, Crossroads has met in 10 different locations, including living rooms, the school gym, a nursing home and even a garage. The church now meets in an up-fitted warehouse on B & G Court in Stokesdale. “We never wanted to own real estate,” says Bailey, “but there is no assembly space available to rent in Stokesdale.”

            In those 16 years, the church has ministered to the community in many ways. Church members have coached sports teams, worked with scouts and participated in Good Samaritan Ministries events. For several years the church has provided refreshments and fun activities for families at the Stokesdale Holiday Parade. Members also serve as the parade announcers as the procession passes the Stokesdale Fire Station. “This is our church’s way of blessing the community every Christmas,” says Keith Street, one of the parade announcers. “We like to show people God’s love.”

            Crossroads has also reached out overseas with God’s love. In 2009 the church sent a team to Spanish Town, Jamaica to help missionaries with church building construction. In 2015 the church partnered with The Mighty River Project, sending a 12-person team to Uganda. The team met with Ugandan artisans who work for TMRP, which imports their crafts for sale in the U.S. Crossroads continues to work with this ministry which helps keep Ugandan families intact, through employment and providing health care.

Volunteers from Crossroads served at the Operation Christmas
Child Processing Center in Boone, NC in Dec. 2015.
            Every fall the church packs shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. Last year the church sent 190 boxes, some of which were delivered to Belize. The church also sent a team of  23 to the Samaritan’s Purse processing center in Boone to prepare boxes for shipment overseas. “Samaritan’s Purse makes it incredibly easy to help bless children all around the world through Operation Christmas Child,” says Crossroads’ OCC leader Amy Strawn. “Crossroads pours out love to children around the world every year by such a simple act as packing a shoebox.”

            Locally, church members also work with Hannah’s Haven, a Teen Challenge substance abuse recovery program, and Jobs for Life, a course helping unemployed people find their way to gainful employment. The church partnered with the Kids’ Clubhouse after school program in Kernersville last summer, to bring a missions-themed Bible School program to dozens of energetic children.

            The past 16 years serve as a foundation for future ministry, says Bailey. One of the church’s home Bible study groups plans to begin ministering to refugees in 2016, working with The 514 Initiative in Greensboro.

            “It is such a joy to serve in this great community,” Bailey says. “We just need to celebrate!”

In the Beginning

Stokesdale Elementary School Cafeteria
It was 16 years ago today that Crossroads Community Church held its first public worship service.  For months we laid the ground work, doing door-to-door surveys, hosting events at my house, and looking for meeting space.  We found guest vocalists to bring some sound equipment and sing along with our music leaders for our launch.  For weeks we had promoted the event with posters, fliers, doorknob hangers, ads in the Northwest Observer, and an insert in the Greensboro News & Record.  We rented the Stokesdale Elementary School cafeteria, and prayed for good weather.

Earlier in 2000, there were several good snows.  I love snow, and had a blast playing with my family.  But then I realized that snow could really shipwreck our launch service.  Suddenly I began praying for milder weather.  On February 13, 2000 it was misty and foggy, but above freezing.  And I was a nervous wreck. 

We had volunteers setting up tables, greeting worshippers, serving snacks, and working the children's ministry.  A Sunday School class from Osborne Baptist Church in Eden provided support by showing up to worship.  My dad took pictures with a film camera.  I preached on "Getting the Love You Want," a nod to Valentine's Day.

I had no idea what I was doing, but believed God could make kingdom work happen in Stokesdale.  He has done that.  He has gathered a unique, talented, passionate, innovative, caring, risk-taking community at Crossroads.  And the ride has just begun.

On February 21, 2016 we will host the Crossroads Sweet Sixteen Celebration, recalling God's blessings and responding to his call.  Join us at 10 a.m. as we worship and give the glory to God!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Panthers and Prophets

The Carolina Panthers seem to be shaking up the NFL world.  Yes, they are winning.  Winning a lot.  But there's nothing new about that--other teams have posted near-perfect records in years past. 

But critics have found fault with the Cats.  They are too brash, too bold, too confident.  They celebrate too much.  Where did this dancing stuff come from?  They don't seem to take this game seriously.  And they are winning.

Over the decades, football has morphed from a game to big business.  You can't win with a smile on your face.  You have to grind out the accounting, and payroll, and union negotiations.  You have to deal with the press, and the fans, and the local community.

But this Panthers team has restored a key ingredient to the game:  Fun.  The players are
having a blast out there.  They dab, and jump, and give touchdown footballs to kids in the stands.  They congratulate each other and pose for team pictures.

Here's the key:  the Panthers have reminded us all that this is a GAME.  By definition, games should be fun.  This new attitude has stunned the NFL establishment.  The Cats are taking the game back to its basics.  It's competition, it's hard work, and it's fun.

Shaking up the status quo always bothers people.  When John the Baptist came along, he told the establishment that all their rules and traditions missed the entire point of a relationship with God.  It made the religious people mad. 

Jesus followed up, teaching that the kingdom of God was at hand.  He showed the religious elites to be hypocrites.  He would not play by their rules.  And they had Jesus crucified.  Jesus paid for their sins as he died.  He proved his power by rising from the dead.

When the status quo of my life gets shaken up, it makes me think.  It often makes me mad.  But when I handle it well, it wakes me up.