“We’re not a traditional country church. . . . We choose uncomfortable instead of traditions.”
By TR Robertson
When Matt Stieger was hired in 2008 as lead minister of Crossroads Christian Church (a church formed in 1972 in Macon, Missouri, a town of 5,400), the average attendance was 200. Ten years later, as the church entered 2018, Crossroads was averaging around 550 each Sunday morning.
“We decided we were going to offer a different idea of what church is,” Stieger said. “We’re not a traditional country church. We choose joy and celebration. We choose new instead of what is old. We choose uncomfortable instead of traditions. If the church is the hope of the world, then that hope should be evident when we get together. We like to laugh and have fun. In a world that seems to beat you up, people are attracted to a Jesus that is different. This passion has shaped what we do and who we are as a church.
“Our leadership gelled and focused on living out vision instead of protecting the comfortable. Our vision of ‘Connecting People to Jesus and Loving Our Community’ became our filter for ministry. We decided if we could be known for one thing, it would be loving our community.”
Crossroads has developed several programs aimed at making an impact in the community.
In small towns, Friday night football is a major community experience, so Crossroads works to connect with people there. “We show up early and pay for families’ tickets to the game,” Stieger said. “We work the concession stand multiple times a year.”
The annual Macon County Town and Country Fair is another major event in the community. This past year, Crossroads moved their Sunday morning services out to the fairground grandstands and invited the community and everyone involved in the fair to join them.
Like many churches, Crossroads goes all out for a huge VBS every summer, but with a focus on families in the community rather than just on the membership. All volunteers undergo mandatory training.
The Agape Cafe is a mission of Crossroads that offers free meals to families in the community. Every Saturday, volunteers prepare, package, and deliver more than 250 meals throughout Macon. On the first and third Saturdays, the church hosts a free meal at the American Legion building in the middle of town.
“We started a special needs ministry,” Stieger said, “including a quarterly Respite Night for families of special-needs children. We provide trained buddies for all family and siblings for three hours. Parents are free to do anything they want for those three hours. We also have buddies on Sunday morning for any special-needs family, so they can worship worry-free.”
“Too many churches are stuck in protecting the process of church instead of being the church,” Stieger said. “When we stopped voting on everything, got rid of Robert’s Rules and business meetings, we began to see life in the church. Don’t spend all of your time protecting what was and miss who is right in front of you.”
TR Robertson is a freelance writer living in Columbia, Missouri.