Anacortes Church Plant Discovers Identity

As an "adolescent" church plant, Anacortes (Wash.) Adventist Fellowship, a company of approximately 50 believers meeting together since 2008, started to take a closer look at who they wanted to be when they grew up.

Growth in any new church comes in stages: bonding as a new group, creating trusting friendships, finding a church home, finding identity and continuing to grow — all, in this case, without the guidance of a pastor.

Mike Hakanson, an Adventist Navy chaplain and commander, recently stepped in to provide volunteer leadership and cast a vision for effective ministry.

In the new leadership structure, church elders and ministry directors are responsible for five ministry areas:

Pastoral Care: visitation, greeting and social events that create an atmosphere of belonging;

Worship: music, drama and preaching;

Direct Community Outreach: serving the community through evangelism;

Personal Spiritual Growth: spiritual growth opportunities through discipleship;

Church Development: physical and financial structure for worship and technological support.

During a church-growth retreat with Bill McClendon, Washington Conference vice president for ministry, members learned more about their spiritual gifts and practical ways to get involved in ministry. Even confirmed "pew warmers" who voiced fear they did not have spiritual gifts, found they had important talents to be incorporated into church ministry.

Anacortes Adventist Fellowship is learning church growth does not just "happen" and is excited to learn more at the conference's church growth practicum this year. Members believe this will help them reach the next stage of development as they attempt to align themselves with God's values and methods.

April 01, 2012 / Washington Conference