One Church, Two Locations

Posted by Danny Wood

Since I introduced our “Beyond the Horizon” vision back in 2016, we’ve prayed about and pursued some opportunities to revitalize a local church. We’re letting you know today that we are engaged in conversations with McElwain Baptist Church regarding church adoption.

Take a look at the video to learn more about what this means. If you're unable to watch the video, you can find the transcription on this page below the video.

Church Revitalization Announcement

Church family, I want to share with you a new exciting ministry opportunity that we are pursuing. In 2016, I put together a Beyond the Horizon vision that gave us a broad direction for the next 10 years. In the State of the Church message in 2017, I shared highlights of this document and copies of this are given to every new member who attends Discover Shades. One of our stated goals are:

“We will actively pursue churches in need of revitalization. By providing pastoral and lay leadership along with the investment of financial resources we will lead an existing church to start a new chapter of vibrant ministry.”

The last three years we have been contacted by two churches to pursue this path of church revitalization, and after some further research and discussions, we backed away from both because we did not feel that the Lord was leading us to pursue.

On June 8 of this year, Mark Clifton, the Senior Director of Replanting at the North American Mission Board and the interim pastor of McElwain Baptist Church, contacted Tim Wheat to see if Shades would be interested in church revitalization or church adoption. 

McElwain hired Mark a year ago after having numerous pastors in the last 10 years and a continued decline of attendance. The church elected a vision committee who were empowered to study and review options for how best to continue the legacy of McElwain Baptist Church and reach the community. Mark provided them numerous options, and one of those was church adoption. After research and prayer, they agreed to adoption.

Adoption means that another church completely takes over their church: land, buildings, assets, all leadership decisions goes to the adopting church. This church then comes in and infuses their DNA, culture, and leadership and works with the existing members to effectively reach the community. Once that decision was made, then they were to choose the “adoptive parents” (church). They chose Shades. 

In the last month Tim, Chad, and I have met twice with this committee and the interim pastor and we all walked away optimistic of the future. In fact Mark (who is the nationwide expert on church adoptions) commented that it was one of the best meetings he had ever been involved in with two churches in the “adoption process.”

So if we pursue this what will it look like? There are more details than you have time to listen so let me give you some highlights:

  • McElwain would be separately incorporated but be under the Shades umbrella. We would be one church with two locations. 
  • We would seek and select a pastor and any necessary staff. We would encourage some of our people to attend there and be a part of the congregation and volunteer leadership.
  • Our staff would train volunteers and implement personnel policies and child care protection policies.
  • Marketing plan to blitz the community and social media about something new getting ready to happen. Make preparations for a launch service for this new chapter sometime in the fall.

Why McElwain?

  • Ministry potential – 3 mile ring around the church includes 54,000 people; 55% white and 41% black and 3% Hispanic. 
  • The age breakdown from 25 to 65 is in equal parts. Thus it is in a perfect position to be a multigenerational multiethnic church.
  • The Crestline/Crestwood area is growing, and there are indicators showing future growth in the other areas around the church.
  • Financial situation is stable with no debt.
  • Buildings are in very good condition.
  • People are excited and onboard and desire their church to be a legacy church and reach this community for Christ.

So as their vision committee presents Shades as the “adoptive parents” to their church body, we will be doing our due diligence to draw up the legal papers to make this a reality. We will dive deep and look at all their finances; maintenance contracts; any litigations or liens to cover every base before we make a final decision. 

This past Monday I, along with Mark Clifton, met with our deacons and finance committee and shared this information. After an hour of questions and answers, the motion was made, seconded, and unanimously approved that we begin the due diligence process toward adopting McElwain Baptist Church.

Once our due diligence is complete, and if we feel that we should continue to pursue this action, and if McElwain votes to accept us, then we will call a church business meeting and present the information and recommendation for the church body to accept or reject.

I have been praying for an opportunity like this for our church for the last three-and-a-half years. I am excited about the incredible ministry potential, but at the same time, I like the way that Shades does due diligence in every decision that we make. Please pray for us and for the members of McElwain as we both seek the Lord’s guidance in how best to advance God’s Kingdom in the eastern section of Birmingham.