As I followed my GPS to the address of Friendship Church in Cookeville, TN, I found myself on a small two-lane road in some of the most beautiful rolling hill country with pastures and tall trees. Nathan Heady, the Lead pastor, gave me a tour of the facility and six acres. It is in great shape and when I met with the Elders I found out why.
About four years ago, the church was not doing well. When the pastor resigned, the four Elders took it upon themselves to visit churches “that were doing well”. They listened to people like Tom Pelt and others who gave invaluable insight into leading the church into a model of reaching the younger generation.
These four wise and “older” Elders had taken many complaints and criticisms from their contemporaries but stayed the course and called a young Nathan to lead the church. As I listened to them, it became obvious that these Elders had taken most of the hard knocks it takes to turn a church around and to begin a new life cycle. They have stuck with Nathan.
When I asked them why did they do it when so many other churches in their tribe were choosing slow death, they looked at me kind of confused. They said they didn’t want the church to close but wanted the church to reach their kids and grandkids. They didn’t consider any other option acceptable.
And with their many choices and those that followed under Nathan’s leadership in the last three years, the church has begun a new life cycle. This church needs direction and coaching, but there is a clear understanding of the need to lead the change on the part of these Elders.
Pray for the church and Nathan as they start through the assessment and consultation process.