July 31, 2023

How Trace Ridge Overcame the Fear of Change & Pursued Health

how trace ridge overcame the fear of change & pursued health

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Trace Ridge Baptist Church (founded in 1978) had shrunk to a congregation of 20-30 people. But when Pastor Stephen Street was called to pastor there in 2010, there was a distinct sense that God was not yet finished with the church. 

Over the next 5 years, God began to grow the church again. But unfocused programming and an unclear vision eventually caused the church to hit the 200-person growth barrier, and by 2017, the church once again faced decline.

“We were on the maintenance side of the lifecycle without a clear path of how to return to health and growth,” Pastor Stephen recalled. “The Unstuck Group was engaged to help us intentionally pursue health, so we could help more people in our region find and follow God.”

Intentionally Pursuing Health Again

“Our staff began by reading The Unstuck Church as a team. It helped us clearly see how we had drifted away from health. The book offered encouragement and help, but we quickly understood the need for more.” Pastor Stephen explained, “We needed someone to guide us through how to apply and implement all of that information in our context and with our leaders.” 

The biggest challenge Trace Ridge encountered was the fear of change and uniting their team around their new vision:

“Change can be scary but not accomplishing the Great Commission is scarier—so reminding our church of that was essential. 

Once The Unstuck Group helped us clarify our church’s mission and vision, strategic initiatives helped us to simplify our ministry programming and gradually change the entire culture of our church.”

We coach churches that a strong vision both attracts and repels. Trace Ridge experienced this firsthand as “some people decided the change was too much for them and found new churches. However, when we corporately surrendered our agendas to His will, God made us into a church that was healthier, more diverse, more outward-focused, and more Gospel-centered than ever before.”

Tangible Wins from the Unstuck Process

On the other side of the Unstuck Process, Trace Ridge is experiencing the fruit of their willingness to do whatever it takes to bring people to Jesus:

There are so many wins that we could share! Since first going through the Unstuck Process, we have seen nearly 50 baptisms, even as a small church. Even after the COVID lockdown and starting from what felt like scratch, we are growing by all measures

We have eliminated many sacred cows within our church and become more centered on disciple-making rather than tradition-holding. The outward focus has led us to cut unnecessary programming and advance every essential ministry.”

When asked to offer advice to other pastors who might be considering a similar process, Pastor Stephen said:

“I would encourage you to begin asking God to reveal the answers to some hard questions to you, and discussing it with the leaders and key influencers within your congregation:

  • Is our church accomplishing its mission? Do we even know what our mission is?
  • Are we inward-focused or outward-focused? 
  • If our church disappeared tomorrow, would our community notice? 
  • Is our faith in what God can do bigger than our fear of change?”

We help pastors clarify where God is calling your church to go in the future and define how you'll get there—and then we coach you as you lead change.

Interested in learning more?

Jordan An

Jordan is our Digital Marketing Manager. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University and, prior to joining The Unstuck Group, worked in social media and marketing communications for a Christian non-profit media ministry. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Sam, and enjoys leading worship at her local church.

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