By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Buel Harms says he remembers reading a book decades ago about all the stages of change a church goes through when the community changes.
He says in hindsight it was like reading the future because since he joined Mount Hebron West Baptist Church, Elmore, in 1975, all of it has happened.
But then just a few years back a different kind of change started happening — one he said began to push them in a good direction. They were headed for a relaunch, a new vision — even a new name.
At a crossroads
Harms remembers the day he said it out loud in a staff meeting.
“We were discussing the state of the church and I mentioned that it might be time to change the name of the church,” he said. “Things progressed from there. I guess I would have to say the Lord planted that thought.”
Pastor Robert Mullins said he would have to say the same thing because for months he felt like the church was at a crossroads. The day after that meeting he jotted in his journal a name he felt was God-given — Crossroads Community Church. He believed God was at work in the people who were converging on that spot in Elmore, and in the years since he’d been called as their pastor in 2012 he felt like the church was ready to be turned loose.
So in January, when the church celebrated 175 years since its founding, it celebrated a whole bunch of other things too, one of which was a new name.
“We’ve just really tried to pour ourselves into the word of God and what He’s been doing,” Mullins said. “The style of how we’ve done it hasn’t mattered as much.”
All people are welcome to come worship how they want and follow Jesus with their whole heart, he said.
The church’s new mission statement is “everyone discipled, everyone disciples.” They’re pouring tremendous effort into learning how to share the gospel and how to disciple others personally through D-groups that meet for a year, then multiply to start others. And church members are being equipped to use their homes as missions outposts, Mullins said.
“We’re a huge disciple-making culture,” he said. “Our people made the conscious decision that we were going to be disciples who made disciples. You don’t come to Crossroads and have the option of sitting and soaking.”
But the process of change hasn’t been without some pain. For instance, in the process of changing the name some church members decided to leave.
Mullins doesn’t take that lightly — but he said the church feels compelled to walk forward on the path where God is leading them in order to turn things around and reach their community.
“We just want other churches to know that there’s hope,” Mullins said. “A lot of churches are going to be at a crossroads and if they don’t make changes they’re going to die. … Sometimes God wants to change the way we’re doing things.
“It’s been amazing just to see God fulfill the vision He gave us,” Mullins said. “It has Ephesians 3:20 all over it — He’s done more than we could ask or think.”