ABSC Church Spotlight: There are no cookie-cutter church plants

BRYANT, Ark. – Ryan Ingold serves as teaching pastor and elder at Crosspointe Church. The newly renovated, 18,000 square foot church building is strategically located on the corner of 4th Street and Reynolds Road, right next to the third-largest high school in the state. The church is sandwiched between the school and a business/residential district that Ingold says the city would like to revitalize. Neither Ingold nor the Crosspointe members could have envisioned the journey that would lead them to their current location since officially launching as a church plant six years ago.  

Ingold says there were two main factors that initially influenced his decision to engage in the church planting process. While serving on staff at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock, he was introduced to a religious study survey put out by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  The survey indicated that people’s attitude toward spirituality in Saline County was decreasing. At the time, 59% had no religious identity. At the same time, Saline County was growing in population size. Much of this growth was coming from relocation and transport growth. Ingold says that many of the transplants were moving and disassociating from the church that they had come from. They were simply moving and dropping out of church all together. 

That same summer, Ingold began an intergenerational Bible study in his home. He invited his neighbors, and the group began to grow. People in their 30’s and 80’s, school-aged kids, families and empty nesters all gathered together to pray and study the Bible. Seeing all of these different groups join together to study and learn made a lasting impression. “This picture of intergenerational ministry created an affection for me,” Ingold said.  

With a burden for evangelism, reconnecting church dropouts with a loving church family, and intergenerational discipleship, Ingold began meeting with a core group of people in January of 2014. They officially launched their first service as a church plant in October of 2014 when they began meeting in a 6000 square foot storefront with eighty people in attendance. 

The vision was to “plant an incarnational, Gospel-centric church that employs expository teaching from the pulpit and arranges it’s ministries for the purpose of equipping and releasing its members for home-based and workplace Gospel ministry.” They determined to do this in large part through incarnational living and focusing on reaching their individual neighborhoods. 

Ingold says it hasn’t always been easy. “It’s been messy. Our initial plan to start by reaching our individual neighborhoods has worked to an extent, but we’ve had a lot of families who moved away or relocated to other neighborhoods during that time.” Over the years, the purpose and identity of the church has shifted, but the vision remains the same. “God provided this building which opened doors for us to do something we never thought possible when we launched in a storefront,” Ingold said. “Once we moved, we had to look at who God had brought us to, why were we there and how were we going to be good stewards of where He planted us.” 

The church began praying and meeting together to determine the purpose and focus of their ministry.  They identified five main mission fronts that help drive the work of the church: Bryant public schools, the Bryant city center, families, the most vulnerable people (mvp’s), and international church planting. Once they determined these five mission fronts, Ingold and the elders met with the church to help cast vision and connect church members with the ministries. 

And then COVID shut everything down. Even though much of the work was stalled, the church continued to pray during the next year that God would give clear direction and structure for meeting the needs and reaching the community”  

Ingold says he has learned that there are no cookie cutter church plants. He says Crosspointe is learning, growing and adapting like all church plants. There have been lots of opportunities for growth, and mistakes have been made, but Ingold believes they are right where they belong and are doing what they are supposed to be doing. 

“God gives us affirmation by all of the lives that are being changed,” Ingold said.  This includes all of those who have passed from death to life and those cultural Christians who have been awakened to the Gospel and are now growing spiritually, becoming disciple makers and connecting with a local body of believers.  

He says God’s provision of resources is also evidence of His affirmation. The resources provided through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention were invaluable. The Church Planting Team provided leadership and guidance. The financial support provided through the Cooperative Program and Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering helped the church get started and helped sustain her growth through the first few years. 

God used other churches as well as individuals to provide for the needs of the church. “There is no reason that we should be in this building. The down payment alone was more than an 18-month-old congregation could afford,” Ingold said. “But God provided the money through a single generous person. Throughout this process, God has shown His faithfulness in timely ways.”  

Lastly, Ingold points to the responsiveness of the community to the church for affirmation.  He says there are many things that the church has done that they thought had gone unnoticed, but later on people in the community would point those out. He said that many have commented that they are glad to see remodeling of the building and they are grateful for the church helping to bring revitalization and renewal to this part of the city. He has also had numerous opportunities to meet with city, school, and district leaders to build relationships and to discuss plans to serve in that area of town. 

Ingold says that plans are now in the works for the church to develop a community park complete with food trucks, green space, amphitheater, and a playground for kids to play. As the church continues to seek ways to minister to the city, Ingold points to Jeremiah 29:4-5 as the motivation for this work. This is where Jeremiah tells the exiles in Babylon to build homes, plant gardens, and pray for the prosperity of the city. In the same way, Ingold points out that the church needs to “set up roots and seek the glory of God being displayed and declared in our city.” 

Ingold is looking forward to seeing people engaged through the five mission fronts. “God planted Crosspointe in a special place, with special people to engage people in this community. It was a miracle that we were able to get in the building, so why are we here? He’s given us a unique calling for where we are.”

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