From “Doing” Church to “Being” the Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Is Revitalized and Growing
A StartNew Church Reboot
“We had a church that was old and dying,” remembers Matt Schuler when he became the pastor at Holy Cross Oxford Lutheran Church four years ago. But after completing the StartNew Incubator — and a little bit of God’s pruning — the congregation in Oxford, Michigan is now growing.
Matt immediately got to work revitalizing the older church. “We wanted to move from ‘doing church’ to ‘being’ the church,” he explains. The congregation and church leadership agreed that implementing a second church service with a contemporary format — and adding a worship leader and communications assistant — would help them have a greater impact on the Oxford community.
As Matt and his team plugged into the StartNew Incubator, they quickly clarified their church’s identity and developed a mission statement. Plus, he says it was a real blessing to attend FiveTwo’s training events and meet fellow believers who wanted to reach more people for Jesus.
“I remember our team had observed one of the other churches in our three-day event,” he says. “There were people on our team that looked at what this other church was trying to do, and they thought it would never work.
“And then we would come back [for a FiveTwo event] six months later, and there would be substantial progress,” he continues. “It showed our team where we were stuck in our mindset. So it was good for us to see that God is providing.”
Today, the congregation has doubled in size, they’ve added to their staff, and they’ve seen an increase in new students at the church’s preschool. Matt and his team are also making inroads in their community through outreaches like a Beers and Bibles study fellowship that meets twice a month at a local brewing company.
And they’ve just launched an open mic night in Oxford in partnership with two other churches. “Our worship teams came together. All the band equipment was set up, and anybody could grab a guitar or sit at the drum kit and play and sing. And as I was looking at our worship team, it was entirely comprised of people who weren’t at our church four years ago.”
Hinting that Holy Cross Oxford might go through the StartNew Incubator again for a potential new ministry outreach, Matt says for now they’re excited to see how God continues to breathe new life into their congregation as they engage people in their community.
“We get stuck in this small ‘c’ church mindset,” Matt admits. “And with StartNew, they’re showing us some of that big “C” Church mentality … and it’s giving us an opportunity to share and be the body of Christ.”