By Ryan Huebner
Note: Over the past 3 years Converge MidAmerica has conducted a half dozen successful pastoral searches on behalf of our churches. Below is an interview with Ryan Huebner who we helped place at CrossPoint church in Ingleside Illinois 15 months ago.
Ryan, tell us a little about your self.
My wife Julie and I have been married for 15 years and
have five wonderful kids. After graduating from
Cedarville University we went right into ministry, serving as Associate Pastor of Youth ministries in two churches in Northern Michigan, Lead Student Ministries Pastor and Associate Pastor of Worship at a church in Seattle, then
Associate Pastor of Family Ministries and Worship back in Northern Michigan. After six years of watching God breath
new life into that church we sensed that God was calling us away and to a Senior Pastor role, so we put our house on
the market, sold it within a few months and waited for God to reveal His plan. Those twelve months were a roller coaster ride of emotions and faith. Then we saw an opening in a Converge church in Illinois.
Why were you drawn to CrossPoint church?
There was just a sense of honesty about them. This was confirmed to us by Dick Loizeaux who was acting as the Interim Pastor and Advisor for the Pastoral Search. Many churches say they change, but at the end of the day they want exactly what they had, just a newer and younger version. CrossPoint was asking for a radical shift in their approach to ministry, both inside and outside their four walls. So it was very attractive to us that they truly meant it. There was also a hunger to take the love that they obviously have for God and each other and turn that outward to the unsaved all around them.
What challenge did you face when you arrived at CrossPoint?
The biggest challenge has been patience on my part. People can say they want change and people recognize they need change but when change happens it can feel like a rug is being pulled out from underneath you. So I've had to slow my change engine down a few notches in order to "grease the skids" for the larger things that need to be addressed down the road. The pace may be slower, but the progress is awesome!
How did you try to meet that challenge?
I've had to learn to take the turns slower so that fewer people fall off the vehicle. It was easy to make sweeping changes in youth ministry and even as the Family Ministries Pastor because I was dealing with a fraction of the people of the church. But now the whole church is moving with the turn of my wheel. So I've learned to slow down, bring more people into the decision-making circles and announce the turn before, during and after the change.
How has the Lord worked in the year you have pastored CrossPoint?
After a long time without adult baptisms at CrossPoint, last year we had 12 baptisms (many of those brand new followers of Christ), this year already we've had 8 (most of those brand new followers of Christ) and I have another 8-10 that will be baptized in the next two months. We've had so many new believers that we've had to start a new believers specific small group. About half of that group is comprised of the unbelieving spouses.
Long time attenders are excited about their church again and keep inviting their unsaved friends, neighbors and family members UNTIL they accept the invitation. We have grown significantly over the last twelve months, from around 200 to over 260. Currently there are over 30 people who are in the process of becoming members, and 33% of those are brand new believers. Last Easter Sunday we had 285 people and this year we had 403! All the ushers did for the first 30 minutes of the service was scramble for extra chairs. It was standing room only.
Last Christmas, we walked through the Advent Conspiracy big ideas. We decided we were going to worship Jesus fully by spending less on ourselves so that we could give more of ourselves to others by loving them the way Jesus did. Over a five-week period of time we raised over $11,000 for benevolent projects inside and outside our church, and for two major projects overseas. I can't begin to describe how joyfully this church gave during that month. I had spouses trying to out-give each other!
What are your dreams for the future?
First, to find out what specifically God has called CrossPoint Church to do here in Ingleside, Illinois and pursue that with relentless passion.
Second, maximize the facility He has already given us so that we can reach even more people for Jesus. If God gives us the old Dominck's Supermarket Building across the street I wouldn't complain. After all, It did have a Starbucks inside!
Third, see that every member will take up the responsibility to share the life-altering good news of Jesus Christ to the best of their abilities and talents.
What was your experience with the search process conducted by Converge MidAmerica?
It was an incredible process. I felt like I was able to get a clear picture of the church and the area without the rose-colored glasses that search teams typically have. Dick Loizeaux's advice and support throughout the process, and afterwards as well, was invaluable. Converge MidAmerica also advised CrossPoint on things that they needed to address BEFORE I arrived and provided the vision and interim pastor to ensure an upswing of forward momentum. I feel like Converge took their time to pair this church (CrossPoint) up with the specific pastor that they needed and this pastor (me) with the church that he needed. Out of all my transitions into a church, this was the smoothest one by a long shot.
In what ways did Converge MidAmerica support you in your first year?
Monthly coaching groups with Dick Loizeaux and fellow pastors in the area. A welcoming invite into the LEAD team with Mark Albrecht. Gary Rohrmayer has personally stopped by to pray with me completely unannounced. Encouraging emails from their staff, newsletters, celebration banquets, and a camaraderie of pastors that is UNSURPASSED by anything that I've ever experienced in my life.
What recommendations would you have for a pastor who accepts a call to a new church?
Slow and steady wins the race. Make small changes in the first few years that allow you to make the drastic ones later. Get a clear vision of what God is doing in your area and through your church and then go for it!