By Chris Moon
Reclaim Christian Church in Ansonia, Connecticut, is living up to its name.
The church last fall moved into its new sanctuary space after doubling the size of its building. Since then, Reclaim has seen its average attendance grow by more than 25 percent—and that after the church had grown steadily for nearly a decade.
It’s God’s reclamation project, which is just how lead pastor Breandan McTighe likes it.
“Taking something that is old, which is who we were, and something that is beaten down and tattered and weathered and has the markings of past pains and hurts—and reclaiming it . . . that’s what God did with our church,” McTighe said.
Reclaim Christian Church is remarkable in having experienced steady growth in the nation’s Northeast, an area where churches have struggled.
McTighe credits the growth to God’s grace and the church’s willingness to take advantage of opportunities God placed before it.
The church made a commitment to take “prayerful, calculated risks,” McTighe said.
For instance, McTighe came to the church in 2013 without a guaranteed salary. He initially shared the ministry with Jim Wagner, a 70-year-old pastor who had preached at the church for more than a decade. Some warned that such a partnership—a seasoned pastor alongside a younger one—wouldn’t work, McTighe said.
But Wagner and McTighe worked well together. The two-year transition was smooth, and Wagner continues to serve the church. And the salary for McTighe materialized.
The church also began holding an annual “Journey to Bethlehem,” an event that takes about 100 volunteers to pull off. That’s a risk for a small church. But God provided, and at one point the church had 3,600 people come to the outreach event.
The church also supervised construction of its building expansion rather than hiring a general contractor. Some members framed up walls, others called contractors for bids, and others visited the job site regularly to check progress.
Most recently, the church hired a student pastor without being able to guarantee a salary. But, again, God provided, and funds for the position now exist.
“God has been so amazingly faithful. None of these risks were haphazardly walked into,” McTighe said. “We knew we needed to do something.”
The church has directed its attention toward raising up disciples who have a passion for the gospel and are willing to share it with others.
“Let’s lead people to Christ and grow them up,” McTighe said. “They will naturally become evangelists if you focus on discipleship.”
“All of our elders and all of our staff are almost always discipling someone,” McTighe said.
McTighe emphasized that the church is walking according to its own calling from God, and that not every church is called to do the same things.
That’s close to the only iron-clad advice McTighe is willing to offer: “Don’t follow the formula,” he said. “Follow the opportunities God puts in front of you.”
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.