Not many churches can say their success stems from military experience, but, in the case of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Lansing, it’s true.
Because of their proximity to Fort Leavenworth, Rev. Lucinda Holmes said the congregation consists of many retired military personnel.
The mindset these members bring with them is one of goal-setting, trial and evaluation. Most important is their use of after-action reports, a military analytical tool that allows the congregation to examine their projects and decide what’s working — and what’s not.
|Crossroads UMC in Lansing|
After a disappointing turnout for a one-day Vacation Bible School and chili cook-off event last year, Crossroads created an after-action report to figure out what had gone wrong.
“Going out and gathering enough people for this event proved to be too overwhelming for us,” Holmes said. “After creating the report, we realized we hadn’t even invited our own people to the event because we hadn’t asked the right questions from the beginning. Because of this process, we learned something.”
The next time around, the church scheduled the VBS event for the same weekend as Autumn in the Grove, an annual community event that takes place across the street from Crossroads. Since this attraction draws a large crowd, the church did not have to use as many resources to gain an audience. In fact, so many people joined in on Crossroads’ activities that the city requested the church partner with them for the following Autumn in the Grove weekend.
The Saturday VBS and chili cook-off is just one project to which the members of Crossroads dedicate their time and efforts.
The church’s praise band has partnered with the Tune Shop, a music center in Leavenworth, to give local musicians the opportunity to perform, and the youth program B.I.G. (Believe In God) set up a concession stand at area soccer games to raise money for soccer balls to send to children in Haiti.
“The key is to have two or three projects and to do them well,” Holmes said. “Anything we do, we go big or go home — that’s our philosophy.”
Going big has paid off for this small congregation, whose average attendance was 89 in 2011.
Last year, Crossroads received a Regional Business Excellence Award from the Kansas Department of Commerce. The city nominated Crossroads for being an engaging, vital part of the Lansing community. It is only the second organization in the city’s history to receive the award.
What Holmes hopes to achieve with her congregation, however, goes beyond success and awards.
“When you come together on Sunday morning for worship, everything should be wrapped together. What happens in the worship service should directly apply to what happens during the week. Your hospitality, your Sunday morning worship and your next steps in discipleship are all one experience. It should be seamless,” she said.