What is County Line Going to Do About It?
By: Nate Tatman
“What is County Line going to do about it?” That was Doug Talley’s response to a question I posed to him in March 2017. I had just looked at a large map of the state of Indiana in the Indiana Ministries’ office that identified with pins where CHOG congregations are located. It wasn’t a new map. I had seen it before. However, this time something else had caught my attention. I saw a vast amount of counties where there were no pins. Thirty-seven in all. The potential for a multiplication strategy beginning to form in my mind.
I snapped a photo and marked the vacant counties. I found Doug and asked, “Has Indiana Ministries ever thought of some initiatives to plant churches in these vacant counties?” Doug’s response? You guessed it, “What is County Line going to do about it?”
I am not sure how I answered Doug. The truth was, we weren’t going to do anything – at least that I could commit to in that moment. So, without an appropriate response, I put my phone in my pocket and never shared that thought again!
Fast forward about five months. Our Senior Pastor, Stuart Kruse, returned from a three-month sabbatical. During that time, he read Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson. The premise of the book is that we need to envision and chase a dream that can only become reality through the power of God.
As Stu continued to read, a question popped into his mind, “I wonder how many Indiana counties do not have a Church of God congregation.” As he prayed about this idea, he became excited and believed that God was laying this out for County Line Church.
As Stu told me what God had laid on his heart, I became speechless. This is exactly what God laid on my heart five months earlier! When he finished, I shared what happened to me at Indiana Ministries and showed him the picture of how many counties did not have a Church of God congregation. We both had chills. Neither one of us could have orchestrated any of this. God was calling County Line to a big vision: plant churches or campuses throughout the state of Indiana where Church of God congregations did not exist. Let me remind you that we had never planted a church or started a campus at that point.
Over the next few months, our dream began to formalize into a strategic plan. Here are some of the action steps we took:
- We named the plan Crossroads 37. Indiana is known as the “Crossroads of America” and, at that time, there were thirty-seven counties without a CHOG congregation.
- We chose to be intentional about planting rural. Located on a country road, we know and understand rural communities, their context and the culture. We don’t know or assume to know the suburban and urban context or cultures.
- It’s not just about the number 37. God used that number to get our attention. In fact, we don’t know how many churches will begin through Crossroads 37. We have goals and ideas, but we have no way of knowing what God is going to do with them.
- It’s not just about Indiana. Like the number thirty-seven, God used the state of Indiana to get our attention and it is where we are starting. However, we have plans and visions to plant churches throughout the Midwest, United States and around the world. In fact, we have partnered not only with Indiana Ministries, but also with Global Strategy and Three Worlds to form a church planting network called EuropeX. It is through networking with pastors, leaders and missionaries that we hope to plant churches!
- We began with the end in mind. It was important that we act like a church planting network from the beginning. We are creating residency programs, partnerships, centralized systems and more to ensure that we have a strong foundation. From there we can send out healthy planters who plant healthy churches.
- We got to work. We had been talking about multiplication for over three years. We were part of several meetings and initiatives but never acted. It was time to jump into the multiplication movement. We are working to launch our first campus this fall (2018) and a second campus in the spring of 2019, and praying about our next location for 2020.
- We had to go public. It was the scariest part of our plan. Pastor Stu shared the vision during a sermon series in January 2018 titled, “Chase the Lion.” Each week he unveiled a little more of the vision to the congregation. The response was exciting and it affirmed that it was a God-orchestrated vision.
When I asked Pastor Stu about what has happened since revealing the vision, he shared two things that are really important. He said, “First, the attacks from the enemy have increased. Conflict, distractions, disgruntled people, doubts, worries, etc. have all been used by the enemy to discourage us. But the second and the most important thing that has also happened is that God continues to confirm this vision in ways beyond our imagination. From the financial needs to the personnel needs to the facility needs. It has been a reminder of God’s faithfulness and to never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.”
Pastor Stu added, “This journey will lead to impacting people for Christ, but its also growing and challenging our staff and me in ways we may have never experienced otherwise. As Batterson said in his book, ‘If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.’ I’m scared, but I know I serve a big God who has big plans for Crossroads 37.”
We don’t know what the future holds for Crossroads 37. Only because we are expecting God to do more with the vision than we could ever imagine. However, we do know that we had to do something. Too much is at stake for us to sit by and let other churches carry the multiplication mantle. Besides, when you think about it, the decision to multiply is not a decision at all. It is a directive that was given to us through what we call the Great Commission.
We also know that we cannot do this alone. Therefore, we are looking for other pastors, leaders, and congregations that are interested in partnering with us to change Indiana for Christ. If God is stirring your spirit, let Doug, Tom or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) know.