When You Need a Bigger Truck: A Church Expansion StoryCategory | Church Loans
While attending an Association of Related Churches (ARC) event in Cleveland, Ohio, I was privileged to hear Jimmy Rollins, pastor of i5 Church in Odenton, Maryland, share an amazing story of transformation within the heart and soul of the church. He also offered some great advice for leaders embarking on a church expansion.
Pastor Jimmy described the church’s foundational miracle moment:
“i5 Church was growing and shaking things up in the community. We began praying that God would work miracles and assist us in transforming our space into a more culturally diverse, accepting environment. We had a local shop owner offer to donate a few items to the church. Several volunteers offered to help as we rented a truck to transport the items and traveled to the shop.
Once we arrived, I began a conversation with the owner. I shared the testimony of i5 and how we were looking to expand our reach. The owner was so moved by our story that he offered not just a few items but anything we could carry from the floor. Anything. Our prayers had been answered and God had provided His miracle we had so desperately prayed for. The only problem? We had rented a truck that was too small to carry the offering.”
Pastor Jimmy’s story is moving, and it points to the fact that God is faithful to His promises to care for His church. But although i5 had prayed for a miracle, they only prepared for minimal provision. Since that moment, Pastor Jimmy has learned a few things about how to grow and trust in God for things unseen. Here are three truths he has learned along the way:
1. Your systems must have the capacity to handle what you are praying for.
This doesn’t mean “staff for growth.” This means that fastidious preparation must be done for even the smallest aspects of church life. Financial systems, educational systems, staffing, and volunteer systems must all be run as a well-oiled machine, even in a small church. Pastor Jimmy said, “Preparation always precedes multiplication.” You cannot pray for great growth but only install minor, small-minded systems while you wait. You must prepare.
2. You must have the capacity to fill the containers once they enter the house.
This speaks to volunteers, staff, and church attendees. Once you have prepared for growth and that growth is realized, you must be prepared to fill people with the love of Christ and challenge them to become fruitful members. A large increase in attendance can quickly fade if the newcomers realize that your hype was just that—all show and nothing to sustain their desire for God’s embrace. The same can be applied to staff and volunteers. You must be ready to fill newcomers with the vision of the church’s goals for its community. Pastor Jimmy cautioned, “Fast growth always reveals slow leaks.” Stay intentional and always work to improve your systems.
3. If you want to grow your church, grow yourself spiritually.
Many pastors are so focused on encouraging and growing others that they forget to focus on their own spiritual wellbeing. A church cannot sustain itself if its shepherd is spiritually starving. The most important thing you can do for your church is take time each day to pray. This should not be a hurried prayer for the church but a truly private moment of daily prayer in which time is spent in the Word to ask God the tough questions and thank Him for His abundance. As Pastor Jimmy pointed out, “Doing work for God is not a substitute for spending time with God.”
We are grateful to Pastor Jimmy for sharing his thoughts. Click here to learn more about i5 Church.
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