Just over six years ago, a call came from the youth pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, asking what they could do to support Hillcrest Ministries. At this same time in their church, a new pastor had come aboard. Bryan Rezen, youth pastor turned campus pastor of Good Shepherd North Oak, shares the church’s journey through his eyes.
It was a time of scarcity. Attendance was scarce and money was scarce. We were a church in debt. This time in the church was discouraging, but Mark, the pastor that had just joined us saw a vision for what the church would become.
A culture of generosity was created, and both church and leadership started making strides toward the values we embrace today. Good Shepherd was revitalized and began to take hold of the vision God was calling us to: transform one life at a time by sharing Jesus in energizing and compelling ways…”
The end of this statement shares that the vision of Good Shepherd, from a time of scarcity to a time of blessing, is to reach 2,500 people by expansion to a total of 5 locations by the year 2025. How will this happen? What makes Good Shepherd different?
So often the church becomes comfortable or complacent (we were there) and turns inward. This ended when we recognized that our call is different and we acted on it. Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger. That is why it is so important to us that “all are welcome.”
We value inclusiveness. This is much more than the fact that we make sure there is a parking spot for you or a chair. If you visit, people will talk with you, engage with you. It is easy to connect here, both with God and others, if you want to.
We also believe that connection means more than just coming and feeling welcome. We want everyone to know that we have something for them to do. Everyone has gifts and can play a role. We have opportunities for everyone.
So, people come and feel connected. As you share, the progression Good Shepherd believes in and attends to for growth is “invitation, participation, transformation.” Tell us about the transformation.
We believe, as Good Shepherd, that it is our responsibility as the church to invite others to come, help them feel welcome, and give them the opportunity to participate-in serving, in worship. We don’t transform each life, God does. It is also our responsibility to share our stories and God’s transformation in our lives.
We value replication. We act in a way to mentor and disciple those around us so that they can replicate the church and ministry, mentoring those around them. We invest in one another to exponentially grow the church, the kingdom of God. Everyone can reach someone in their own life that you or I may never meet or interact with.
As the church continues to grow and prosper, Good Shepherd has continued to look outward. Just last year, Good Shepherd began to take an even more intentional look at how they could do more to meet the needs of the community. The idea to centralize their support to the community through a non-profit outreach arm quickly became a reality. A Turning Point was brought to life through Good Shepherd to serve and meet needs identified through their three church campuses.
A Turning Point, which opened January 1st of this year, is currently providing a food pantry, wardrobe, and The Academy, a diploma completion program, to local families. The food pantry saw near 550 individuals in the past month, clothing needs are beginning to be filled, and 6 students are currently enrolled in The Academy.
Cathy McIntire, Director of A Turning Point, shared the story of a woman in her early 20s that had dropped out of high school when she became pregnant. This young mom, now with a little one and a full-time job, is working her way through the high school classes she hadn’t completed. It is an opportunity for her to work at her own pace, yet have all the help and support she needs.
We at Hillcrest Hope view ourselves as blessed to work alongside such an incredible church and partner together in unique and powerful ways to serve our community.