“God’s doing good things, but it’s like growing an oak tree. It’s slow.”
Pastor Noah Lee is quick to connect imagery from nature and farming to the local church. It fits well the rural context of Tremont Baptist Church not far from Peoria. It also finds good company in the Gospels, where Jesus often taught about the Kingdom of Heaven using imagery from agrarian life.
Tremont recently completed the first phase of the ReFocus process with Scott Foshie, IBSA’s Health Team leader. As part of IBSA’s Next Step consulting approach, ReFocus is the chosen path when, after consultation, church leaders decide their next step should be focused on churchwide health rather than on one area of ministry.
Foshie walked Lee, Associate Pastor Michael Awbrey, and a core group of church members through months of coaching, consulting, and strategy sessions. This led them to prayerfully create their own customized strategy for disciple making.
“There were some things that I don’t think we would have seen or been able to work through on our own without an outside perspective,” Lee said. “Scott never told us what to do. He never directed us. He helped us process things. When it came to developing a strategy, he helped us think through our values and goals and the implications of them.”
“Tremont had never had a discipleship process, and Pastor Lee knew that this would be new to the church,” Foshie explained. So, Lee led them to create a three-step process based on familiar rural concepts. The farmhouse is where people gather for worship and develop relationships with God and each other. The toolshed is where people grow and are equipped to use their spiritual gifts. The field is where the gospel work is done, sowing seed, and reaching people in the community with God’s love.
The church is now putting the new plan into action. And God is at work, even though Lee testifies “it’s not like things are blowing up, here. It’s slow, but it’s steady.”
That slow, steady spiritual growth could be seen on a recent Sunday morning when Lee had the joy of baptizing Eric and Joe. These two men, a former Mormon and a man who testified that he “came to the end of himself at 69 years old,” were the first adult baptisms Tremont had seen in several years.
As the congregation takes its next steps forward, people are excited to see what’s happening and to be part of it. “There’s a real sense that God is going to do some great things here,” Lee said. “Do the little things, be consistent in them, and don’t give up.”
To learn about ReFocus, visit IBSA.org/revitalization or for information IBSA’s Next Step consulting contact MarkEmerson@IBSA.org.