By Kent E. Fillinger
Crossroads Christian Church (Corona, California), has grown from 5,400 to more than 8,400 in average worship attendance during Chuck Booher’s first four years, with annual growth rates of 17 to 21 percent. Beyond that, Crossroads has had the best baptism ratio among megachurches for three consecutive years. Last year, Crossroads baptized people at twice the rate of the average megachurch, based on the number of baptisms per 100 people in attendance.
Booher quickly identified the biggest contributor to this recent growth surge as the conscious shift from a “seeker sensitive” approach to a call for passionate commitment. Booher has witnessed a hunger for biblical Christianity in those coming to Crossroads, and he is excited by the people’s desire to really know Christ. He added that members have been more willing to bring their friends to church because they have confidence that Booher and the Crossroads team will really challenge them to be completely committed.
This focus on commitment has driven the number of conversions and baptisms over the last several years, Booher said. A group that has been ignited by the focus on commitment has been the students. Booher said students are ideological and they listen to, and respect, the church for pushing people to be committed.
The student ministry—called “Generate”—has grown from 120 to more than 1,400 students in the last four years. About half of Crossroads’s baptisms the last several years have occurred through the Generate student ministry on Wednesday nights. Booher also is a strong proponent for ensuring that students are in the adult weekend worship services so they can participate and serve.
Back from the Brink
All of these encouraging developments are magnified when one considers Crossroads was at the brink of closing its doors due to a financial crisis when Booher arrived five years ago. Booher insisted that the church be completely transparent about its financial situation and had a congregational meeting about finances on his first Sunday night as senior minister. Since then, Crossroads has been up-front and accessible concerning its financial situation and budget. The transparency and accountability has created an atmosphere of trust at Crossroads. The church is financially healthy now; last October it launched a two-year vision based on Exodus 24:7, and average giving climbed from $130,000 to $180,000 per week.
The additional funds have enabled the church to hire more staff members, which has led to increased attendance. Almost every quarter, Booher invites those who are the most invested in the church’s mission—whether financially, through service, or both—to attend special focus group sessions where he openly shares a “state of the church” message. He also shares a similar message with the entire church once a year.
Crossroads has leveraged technology to expand and deepen its ministry connections. Booher sees technology as an effective way to stay in touch with more people. Booher and the church use Facebook pages to minister to people. The church asks people to post prayer requests on Facebook, and a pastor prays for and follows up with each person. Booher said 80 percent of his Facebook activity is ministry focused, and the other 20 percent is information driven. Booher also blogs regularly and has more than 10,000 readers.
The church launched an online campus last year, but it intends to upgrade it soon to make it more mobile so people can watch from an iPad or iPhone. About 600 computers are logged onto Crossroads’s live worship services each week.
For example, the Florida State University lacrosse team watches each week because a team member grew up at Crossroads. Likewise, a group from England faithfully watches each week, and one person from that group flew to California to be baptized at Crossroads last year. Crossroads uses a social media campus, which lets others know who is watching the worship service online. This helps the church foster a dynamic, interactive online environment.
Crossroads has an online pastor who can take a viewer to a private chat room when he or she wants to make a decision for Christ; the online pastor will also recommend a church in the viewer’s area that he or she can attend. Booher said the goal isn’t for Crossroads’s online campus to be someone’s main (or only) place of worship. To date, the church has given the online campus only a soft push, but it is planning to ramp up communication for it.
Crossroads has a surplus of volunteers; there is even a waiting list of volunteers for the adult special needs ministry. This largely is due to the 500 to 700 people who annually complete the church’s three-month “Basic Training” program. The program focuses on teaching people to have an attitude of service. As a vehicle for discipleship and ministry involvement, it has revolutionized the church.
The Basic Training program is available for other churches to use. Crossroads also offers apprenticeships and internships for those who want more ministry opportunities.
Booher has a “pray before you plan” approach to ministry, and that is how he and his staff consistently operate. These days they’re praying about a plan to go multisite by January 2013. The goal is to launch a new site with 500 people. Crossroads is adjusting its worship schedule and small groups structure this year in preparation for multisite ministry.
Another development is an outreach focus in Anaheim, which has the second-largest Islamic population in the United States. Crossroads is planning to lead a five-week summer VBS program to teach children about Jesus. Additionally, the church will partner with a national ministry in the Holy Land to purchase land for a church and to train a national pastor.
Kent E. Fillinger is president of 3:STRANDS Consulting, Indianapolis, Indiana, and associate director of projects and partnerships with CMF International.