A Strategy to Reach a ‘Dry and Weary Land’
By Justin Horey
Every three years, the leadership team at The Crossing in Milton, Delaware, asks itself this question: “If the Lord allows us to minister here for three more years, what does he want us to focus on?” That question is part of a three-day planning retreat in which staff, elders, and key leaders prayerfully consider a strategic plan that will guide the church’s ministry.
Senior minister Mark Magee has led The Crossing since June 1993, when he was just 25 years old. There were 40 people in attendance on Magee’s first Sunday—20 of them children. Small numbers like those were not uncommon then (nor are they now) in Delaware. Many churches in the area struggle to grow because, as Magee says, “Delaware is a dry and weary land.”
Despite the challenges of ministering in a state that is often resistant to the message of Christ, The Crossing grew slowly and steadily for the first 15 years of Magee’s tenure. By 2008, the church was averaging 300—but then the growth stalled for three years. Unsure of what to do and feeling alarmed that the congregation was no longer growing, Magee and the church’s leaders simply prayed.
“This is a praying church,” Magee said. “We don’t do anything without praying about it first.”
At the start of 2012, those prayers led The Crossing to adopt a three-year strategic ministry plan for the first time. Since then, the church has renewed its plan every three years. Each new season begins with a retreat during which all of the church leaders—including staff and elders—are given the chance to recommit for another three years of ministry.
Each three-year plan includes a specific vision, new graphics, and a concise statement of the strategy—all intended to keep staff, elders, ministry leaders, and attendees focused on the specific work of the ministry for each new season. During those three years, Magee makes sure every one of his sermons highlights at least one element of the strategic plan.
The Crossing is now in the midst of its third such plan. The church’s strategy through 2020 is “REACH: Higher in Prayer, Deeper in Relationships, and Wider in Influence.” Not surprisingly, the church is growing again. In 2018, The Crossing averaged 604 in Sunday attendance, making it one of the largest evangelical churches in the state.
Justin Horey is a writer, musician, and the founder of Livingstone Marketing. He lives in Southern California.