It has been humbling to observe the rapid growth God has blessed us with the past few months. I don’t think there is any one reason as to why this growth has been true for us nor do I believe there was an outright strategy that was attempted that brought this result. Just the same I do believe it is important to try and identify what some of the factors may be. Below are my top five reasons in no particular order.
1. Launch in Year 1 Went Well – I believe we launched healthfully. We prayed a lot, communicated as best we could, and followed through on our initial strategy. This allowed us to grow in depth and now we are seeing a season of growth in width, hopefully without compromising any depth.
2. Ripe Town – Jenny came up with this wording and I think it fits perfect. We could have tried to plant a church in a number of locations but God was very clear about Ottumwa. I think that is because He knew this town was longing for something new that offered hope. I’m not saying there weren’t churches here offering hope – but the newness of our voice seemed to be more easily heard. If we would have tried this plant say in Pella or DSM we wouldn’t have seen the warm welcome that we have encountered here in Ottumwa.
3. Other Pastors Leaving – Nothing opens up the door for visitors like your own pastor leaving. This is a sad but true reality in Ottumwa. Since moving to Ottumwa I have counted 18 churches losing a pastor or looking for a pastor. That is an astronomical amount of pastors leaving a single area in a 1.5 year time frame.
4. Good Experience – I would like to say that the dynamic preaching and applicable messages are causing people to flock back in a hurry but when I ever silicate info on what people enjoyed it usually has to do with a warm welcome, coffee, or they can dress how ever they want. Those three things have led to people leaving feeling as if they just had a good experience and they are more apt to come back because of it.
5. Word of Mouth – We have done mass mailings and they have definitely brought people in the doors but it is the word of mouth invites that have solicited the most fruit. People inviting people continues to be our biggest reason for people to visit thebridge and I hope that never changes.
You can see that none of the above things above are flashy or are really dublicatable (maybe the coffee) but they are what I have observed. Above all of those continues to be God’s favor. For some reason He has chosen to bless a guy like me who just can’t get enough of Him. It is my prayer that he stops growing us when we stop serving Him with our all.