HOUGHTON, MI – We’re in a season of great adversity and trials because we have caught the eye of the enemy. We have seen 16 come to Christ and 63 baptized in the last two years. Our church is full of unchurched or de-churched people. The lost are coming. Broken and battered families are coming. Even the homeless are coming to our church. So, why I am sharing this? Why do I want you to know these things are happening? Are possible? Because across our state and nation churches are dying. Churches have plateaued or are in decline. It’s heartbreaking. Churches are shutting their doors never to be opened again. I know, because we faced this just five years ago. Our numbers were dwindling, and it was a scary time for us. But then we started to change the culture at Houghton Baptist Church (HBC). We started to make cuts where they were needed. We began to realize a new day.
As a church we shifted our focus from keeping people to reaching people. We poured ourselves into the community instead of the church building. We moved people from rows to places of service. We stopped making it so difficult for new people or less mature people to serve and be apart. We made our church a place where lost people and unchurched people felt they could come and grow at their own pace. And, it’s worked. It’s grown the kingdom. It’s grown the church numerically. It’s grown our hearts for the lost and unchurched, and it’s completely changed our church and our community. If we make the mission number one, God promises to do great things. If we love the lost more than ourselves and our church routines, God begins to shake things up.
It’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite painful at times. Church people typically don’t like or enjoy change, but it’s necessary and it’s worth it. We’re headed into this next year believing God for more of the same, bigger and better things. We’re hoping to launch a new Saturday night service that will only further increase growth and extend our reach. We’re in a season where we’re praying that God would send us additional help, additional mature believers to help us build up these new concerts. We need more staff to help manage and run the day to day as we grow. We’re believing God for the resources we need to keep ministering to some of the most poverty-stricken people in our area. Moving forward, we don’t plan to change a thing, but keep believing this act of God will continue. We’re grateful we’re seeing things that many don’t experience in a lifetime of ministry. We count it all joy, the trials and difficulty that we have faced because it has produced such kingdom fruit. Our struggles are minor compared to what God is doing. And all of these things, we give God the glory for. He changed us. He shifted our focus. He changed and adjusted the culture to cultivate the harvest we are reaping. It’s all Him and all His doing. We’re thankful we didn’t choose to go down with a sinking ship, but let our great God do great things through us at Houghton Baptist Church. Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” and our church is just one example of what God can do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Whitaker is Pastor of Houghton Baptist Church in Houghton, MI. He and his wife have been married 12 years and in ministry for 10 of them. They have three amazing kids who keep them super busy and of course Pastor one of the larger Churches in our area along with our Executive Directors position with Love Inc of the Copper Country. You could say, We’re all in for Jesus!!!