James and Becky Valekis have been at Crossroads Christian Fellowship since 1999, when James became the senior pastor there. Crossroads is a "re-birthed" congregation, and the church has been experiencing a significant amount of change over the last 10 or 15 years since the Valekises arrived, so they decided it was time to do some self-assessment.
Crossroads Christian Fellowship is part of Grace Communion International (GCI), a denomination present in over 70 countries and made up of over 50,000 members in about 900 churches. One spring, GCI leadership recommended LifeWay Research's Transformational Church Assessment Tool (TCAT) to churches who may benefit from assessing themselves and moving forward in ministry effectiveness.
Pastor Valekis and Crossroads did some research, contacted LifeWay, and embarked on their journey of self-assessment.
Since the arrival of Pastor Valekis in 1999, Crossroads found themselves transitioning from a more commuter-based congregation to a more traditional, community-based congregation.
Becky, Pastor Valekis' wife and a leader in the church, said, "We started there [Crossroads] in 1999-2000, and we were about 100 percent commuter-based, I would guess. Then, by the time we did the TCAT last year, we were probably more like 80 percent community based."
That's a huge demographic swing. Such a change would have no small effect on the congregation.
The transition was a big one, and the church thought some self-assessment would go a long way in helping them better minister to the community around them.
They were right.
Crossroads, Becky says, actually scored really well on the TCAT. But while there were no glaring areas needing improvement, the assessment confirmed a suspicion many in leadership had: Communication could improve, specifically as it relates to the mission and vision of the church and its discipleship efforts.
The question the leadership faced is this: "How do we improve our communication with the congregation?"
Pastor Valekis, Becky and other leaders in the church found a solution: more leadership.
"One of the things that came out of it [the assessment] was that we really did need more leadership, to spread out more. So we've been working on creating a more varied leadership structure, and we just commissioned and ordained three new leaders since the assessment," Becky reported.
Pastor Valekis is the only full-time pastor of Crossroads, so having other part-time and lay leaders to assist him has done wonders to bring about communication effectiveness in the church. Church members can contact any number of church leaders now, instead of relying on Pastor Valekis to be available.
The expansion of leadership is already starting to show fruit. Crossroads is a church of approximately 80 regular attendees, and Becky says that since they've commissioned the new leaders, attendance has been up, and they just recently baptized 17 people on a single Sunday!
Crossroads is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with increasing attendance, increasing interest in baptism and church involvement, and significant financial giving. Becky sees taking the TCAT as a sort of turning point for the church.
"We were at a good place, but we didn't know what the next step was. So I think that it's helped us see that a little bit better," she said.
More information about the TCAT can be found online at tcat.lifeway.com.
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