Summary: Making a few comparisons between an immature church and a maturing church, and see where we think we fit in.
In just a few days, Christ the King Oak Harbor will turn five. To those who have been here since the beginning, that may seem amazing. It seems hard for me to believe that in just a few months I’ll celebrate my fourth anniversary as pastor here. Birthdays give us a chance to celebrate the good things that have happened, as well as provide an opportunity to look ahead and see what extra responsibilities we’ll have now that we’re “bigger”.
With our children we often do this. We say things like, “Now that you’re nine, you’ll be able to stay up later, and you’ll be able to earn a larger allowance. You’ll also be able to go to grandma’s house by yourself. But now that you’re nine there are going to be a few extra things being asked of you. You’ll need to get yourself ready for school all by yourself. You’ll need to help with some extra chores around the house. You’ll need to be responsible for doing your homework in a timely manner.”
With our children, what was acceptable when they were infants is no longer acceptable when they grow up. For instance, it is somewhat cute when a toddler drools all over himself. But if a seven-year-old does this we rightly think something is wrong.
We expect a two-year-old to throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, but we expect quite a different mode of communication from a teenage son or daughter.
For those of you who are new to Christ the King I want to take a couple minutes to share where we’ve come from, and then give some focus to how I think we need to “grow up” as a church body now that we’re five.
In early 2000, a group of Oak Harbor residents were attending the Christ the King Church in Mount Vernon, pastored by Dave Browning. Under the leading of the Holy Spirit, Dave began to talk about the need to develop a multi-site church, with hundreds of small groups meeting all over the Skagit Valley, and with worship centers strategically located in every community.
Jim Cochran approached Dave and suggested that CTK start fulfilling that vision here in Oak Harbor. That led to a public information meeting, in which a number of people joined the team, and in fact God brought together a team of people with the exact gifts needed to get the church started. And so, on October 11, 2000, CTK Oak Harbor was birthed. The service was on a Saturday night, at Solid Ground Coffee Shop (at it’s former location 3 doors down from where it presently stands). Pastor Dave Browning taught, Scott Goldman and Stacy Donaldson were among those who led worship that night.
The church continued meeting under Dave’s leadership for over a year, growing up to a size of about 90 people. It was about then that the leadership team began praying for God to provide someone to lead the church full-time, since Dave was at that time simply teaching and leaving the rest of the work up to the volunteer leaders in Oak Harbor.
In November of 2001, a young pastor and his wife drove up from Canby, Oregon and interviewed with a group of the leaders, and taught at a Saturday night service. For some reason the leaders looked beyond his youth and his relative inexperience, and they extended an invitation for him to become Christ the King Oak Harbor’s first full-time pastor. That young man was, of course, myself.
In February 2002, our family made the move to Oak Harbor, and we began the work of helping this church take the next steps of growing up. We started a Sunday morning service that Easter, with 80 people coming to that brand new service. (Of course the week after easter we only had about 20 people – but it was a start!)
Our children’s ministry at the time consisted of a sort of “one room schoolhouse”. We had all children from infants through 5th grade in one room all together, with one very brave teacher who was doing the work on her own.
Melissa Goldman stepped up and took over the job of trying to recruit more people to teach the children, and soon we had two classes – one for elementary and one for preschool and below.
In early 2003 Crystal Gienger was hired as our Children’s Ministry Director, and the ministry took on a new enthusiasm as she built a ministry team, and we faced the challenge of splitting the classes into four age groups, and for a limited time trying to offer those classes for three services!
In the summer of 2003, it became apparent that we needed a new home for the church, and with mixed emotions we said goodbye to our little “coffee shop church” and began meeting here at the Senior Center in the fall of 2003. At the same time we moved Solid Ground to it’s present, smaller, location.