By Esther Cottrell
Connection Point Church
Three years ago, Ohio Ministries was invited to work with First Church of God in Sidney, Ohio, to help the church address the need for turnaround. This began a journey toward a new future. Pastor Alan Leach began feeling the stirring of the Holy Spirit to leave his growing church and take on the challenge of pastoring a turnaround church. He prepared himself through prayer, study, attending the Ohio Ministries Turnaround Church Boot Camp, and hiring a coach. So when Pastor Alan Leach and the Connection Point Church (formerly Sidney First Church) joined forces last Easter, they began with a commitment to do whatever it took to turn the church around and be a “Great Commission Church.” After an intensive period of prayer, training, and planning, the church is now on a journey to becoming that new church. In the last eight months, Pastor Alan reports that attendance has nearly doubled. On Christmas Sunday, they had an attendance of 250. Their “Christmas Eve Eve” service saw 256 persons celebrate the birth of our Lord. And the first Sunday of this year drew 234 persons—nineteen were kids, fifth grade and younger. They are encouraged!
When asked what is helping to make the difference, Pastor Alan said, “Our folks are investing in and inviting their friends, family, coworkers and neighbors.” To illustrate the enthusiasm of the folks of the church, he told of a person who decided to invite their neighborhood (about seventy persons) by giving out microwave popcorn bags with a label inviting them to church. These simple acts of friendship are major factors in helping this church become a new church of hope and good news in their community.
When Pastor Robin Hindall accepted the call to pastor Risingsun Church of God in Girton, Ohio, there were twelve folks in the church. Four months later, the church is experiencing growth and is averaging over forty persons in worship. Now they’re needing to start a youth ministry to serve the needs of new families. When asked what is happening to encourage growth in the church, Pastor Robin responded, “The church is becoming known as an outreach church. The members and community have grown in unity. I’m teaching the church that it’s not just a physical act, but a spiritual one also. We’re teaching them to be in prayer for every man, woman, boy, and girl that attend. We’re also working to build relationships with our community.”
One of the outreach projects that the church has adopted is raising funds for the community playground. Each month on the second Saturday, the church holds a pancake breakfast. Pastor Robin reported, “All proceeds go to the Risingsun Park District for new playground equipment, which they desperately need. The village has no funds for new playground equipment. So Girton has signed up for a year of pancake breakfasts. The support for this event is overwhelming! From the fire department, police department, village and local churches, people are proud to support this event and help raise money for their park. We serve an average of seventy-five to one hundred people here at the Girton church. We are honored here at Girton to host such an outreach.”
Join the Connection Point Church and Risingsun Church in prayer, that the Lord would continue to grow the churches as they live on mission!
An ordained minister in the Church of God, Esther’s ministry experience includes partnering with her husband Chris to serve as co-pastor of Southside Church of God in Muncie, Indiana; associate pastor at Barberton Church of God in Barberton, Ohio; associate director of Christian education at Ohio Ministries; associate pastor at the Ansonia, Ohio, First Church of God; and serving as a chaplain in hospice there. In February 2007, Esther joined the Ohio Ministries staff as associate director. Her efforts have focused on church multiplication, developing the next generation of leaders, and coaching pastors and congregations toward sustainable health and growth. Esther completed her doctorate of ministry from Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. The emphasis of her study was “Growing and Multiplying Churches in North America.” Esther and her husband Chris have two grown sons, Nathan and Aaron.