More than seven years ago, Alan Ostrzycki and his family moved to Elkmont, a town of fewer than 500 people about 15 minutes north of Athens.
“We’ve always kind of lived in the country, so I felt right at home there,” said Ostrzycki, who at the time was minister to children and junior high at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church in Athens. “And God just started bending our heart to that community.”
Some years later, when the leadership of Lindsay Lane mentioned they were looking at planting a campus in Elkmont, Ostrzycki was sitting on “go.”
“We had been there for two years and fallen in love with the place and truly had a heart for that community,” he recalled. “I bought into the vision of a church plant there, hook, line and sinker.”
They started working on a plan and looking for a place to meet, visiting every building possible, and in the end — on the advice of the late Lamar Duke, who at the time led the office of associational missions and church planting at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions — went with a “mobile campus” that met in the local elementary school.
Ostrzycki said that wasn’t his favorite idea at first — he liked the thought of a permanent space. But he found that being mobile had its benefits.
“There’s some excitement with the setup and teardown process, and we loved that,” he explained. “We had some people who the first day they would show up for church they would stick around and help with breakdown. At a traditional church, it’s hard to plug someone in that quickly.”
Ostrzycki noted there also were benefits to starting a church in the middle of a pandemic — since leaders were building the culture from scratch, it was easy to change and adapt along the way.
“In a church plant what you’re afforded is the opportunity to create culture on a dime,” he noted. “You can pivot when things happen and do things other churches might have a more difficult time doing.”
A permanent site
That helped when they moved into a new location in August 2020, purchasing a building from a small congregation that was closing its doors and renovating it to fit their needs.
“From August 2020 to September of 2021 we baptized 27 people and saw our church explode in growth,” Ostrzycki reported. “God’s done an amazing work.”
Lindsay Lane North now is averaging more than 200 on Sundays, with 60 in the children’s ministry, and once again they’re in need of new space to keep up with the growth. A portable building is on the way from the SBOM to help with classroom space, and the church is exploring the idea of land acquisition.
“There’s not a bigger fan of what the State Board of Missions is doing with planters than I am,” said Ostrzycki, who noted the resources, equipping and training they’ve offered along the way have been critical.
He said he’s also been blessed to be in a situation where he’s supported by a planting congregation like Lindsay Lane.
“We have the name Lindsay Lane attached to our church — the Athens campus underwrote everything we did,” Ostrzycki explained. “There’s a certain amount of fuel it takes to get off the ground. They provided the funds and the office space and helped us with our strategy. It’s been very effective.”
The north campus isn’t Lindsay Lane’s first plant — it started Lindsay Lane East in Harvest in 2013. But this effort has been different in that from the beginning, the intention with Lindsay Lane North was that it become an autonomous church, Ostrzycki noted.
Grateful for support
He has appreciated the friendships and accountability that have supported him at the Athens campus through the planting process, he said.
“It has worked well for my family to have community immediately while we went about this huge, taxing and difficult work of church planting.”
It may be taxing, but they’ve loved it, Ostrzycki added. They’ve seen the kingdom of God move in their community and are thankful for God’s favor.
“We want to make it harder to go to hell from Elkmont,” Ostrzycki said. “If we can do that, we are doing what God has placed us in this community to do.”