HAWESVILLE—In 2015, Hawesville Baptist Church expanded its ministry across the Ohio River to start Crossroads Church in Tell City, Ind. Now the congregation, still part of a multi-site model with Hawesville, is bursting at the seams of their 120-person-capacity building, with no signs of slowing down.
Barry Fields, pastor of both campuses, told the Hancock Clarion, "People are welcoming, people tell us they feel at home…. I think Crossroads has become a refuge for the community, those who have felt lost in life, those who have felt isolated, have found relationships in Christ through fellowship."
The staff at Hawesville saw this opportunity to plant a church in the building formerly occupied by Tell Street Baptist as another avenue to fulfill the Great Commission.
"For us, we think, with the staff we've got, with the bridge right there, with the resources we've got, the ability to reach them, we think (God has) best equipped us to reach Tell City, so that's what we're focused on doing," Dave Cook, Hawesville and Crossroad's worship leader, told the Clarion.
The multi-site church faces unique struggles, with the staff from Hawesville also being the staff at Crossroads, including preaching, teaching, leading worship, and leading students and kids twice on Sundays.
The struggle they'll be facing next, however, is a good one and a result of the church seeking to fulfill that Great Commission.
A year ago, Crossroads Tell City was averaging 60 in attendance. Now, they see an average of 100, with some Sundays encroaching on 115 attendees.
"We've been praying for the Lord to open up some possibilities about future property, future space, still seeking through that," Fields said to the Clarion. "But the big thing we're asking is, where can we most effectively reach the most people for Christ and how can we be a blessing to the community?"
"The church isn't a building, it's a body," he added, "but in our case it really isn't reduced to one location, which is neat."
But Fields told the Clarion that one of the biggest struggles the church faces now is the culture shift that happens crossing the river.
And although the two churches, are just 5 miles apart, "The river might as well be an ocean, culturally," said Fields.
The staff has learned to adapt to the differences in both campuses, including leaving their beloved Kentucky sports anecdotes on the appropriate side of the bridge.
Another creative adaptation was the idea of youth pastor Jacob Johnson. Once he realized both sets of students and children identified as separate groups, he took measures to unite the two, including naming Crossroads and Hawesville's student ministry "The Bridge," and the children's ministry "The River."
"Jesus makes it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven, he bridges that divide, but also the same way the bridge very much so bridges the divide between us and Crossroads," Johnson, told the Clarion.
Through this, Johnson has seen the two groups bond in a unique way.
He added, "It's exciting as far as students go just because you have students from Hancock County who typically would've never connected with students from Tell City or Perry Central, they just would've never formed those relationships, but now you have students who consider each other friends."
And despite the struggles, Pastor Fields is excited about the future of the church in a Perry County, Ind. In the county with a population of 19,000, many are unchurched. "The growth potential at Crossroads is astronomical," he added. (WR)
Dave Taylor, Hancock Clarion News Editor, contributed to this story.