National Church Multiplication Sunday, June 4, marked two interrelated firsts. A denomination-wide emphasis on church plants and revitalizations, and the first time John and Shanda Croft worshiped in their new church home, Crosstown Fellowship Church, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. John is the pastor of the 15-member congregation he plans to revitalize.
After 33 years of combined pastoral and missionary service, the Crofts are starting over, entering a new mission field. St. Lucie County, home to Crosstown Fellowship Church and now the Crofts, reported 277,789 residents with 198,185 of them unchurched in 2010. (thearda.com/rcms2010). Crosstown Fellowship is comprised primarily of Latinos, Haitians, and African-Americans, joined by a few Caucasian members.
John enters this new ministry already seeing the church growing to 150 and then multiplying itself into each of the Port St. Lucie quadrants. The community reflects the church composition. Port St. Lucie encompasses 13 zip codes–34945, 34952, 34953, 34956, 34957, 34981, 34982, 34983, 34984, 34985, 34986, 34987, 34988.
“I begin with the end in mind,” he explains. “Shanda and I like to start things, to build culture. With God’s help, we did that in the Czech Republic beginning with basically a dream 23 years ago.”
Widely known as director of the JESUS Film Partnership of Global Partners, John references God’s faithfulness through that ministry. “We saw 700 new churches planted during the last five years around the globe.
“We know God is calling us to Crosstown Fellowship Church,” John added. “We go with a lot of unknowns, but absolute confidence in God’s faithfulness.”
A large rock accompanied the Crofts to Port St. Lucie. It isn’t especially noticeable, there are no special markings on it, but the rock is a treasured family possession. It is the Crofts’ Ebenezer stone.
“We keep the rock in front of our house,” John said. “The rock doesn’t move and so every time we come and go, we are reminded that God has been faithful. The rock doesn’t move. God doesn’t move. God has always been faithful wherever we served.”
National Church Multiplication Sunday was organized to help revitalize and launch churches, ones like Crosstown Fellowship.
“What if every Wesleyan church joined together in spirit to sow seeds of new life in their communities by supporting the church multiplication movement,” said Rev. Anita Eastlack, Church Multiplication and Discipleship executive director. “The Crofts are only one example of believers stepping out in faith to reach spiritually-lost people. Like John and Shanda, we already ‘see’ the 100 churches our denomination will plant this next year and invite all our churches to continue to share in that vision. God is faithful. We are praying with great anticipation for what will happen in Port St. Lucie and across North America.”