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The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. PSALM 92:12-13

A Generosity Initiative for Cross Park Church

For the past 6 ½ years, God has been incredibly gracious to Cross Park Church. After much discussion and prayer, we believe the Thrive initiative is what God will use to help us grow into an even healthier, more effective church. This is a brief overview to familiarize you with our upcoming Thrive initiative.

Pastor Rev. Jeff Hardy
Associate Pastor Rev. Jordan Olshefski

What is Cross Park’s History?

The process of planting Cross Park began about eight years ago by Uptown Church. As their congregation grew, they wanted to plant a Christ-focused, gospel-preaching church in the quickly growing South Charlotte area. Early in the church planting process, Jeff Hardy (pastor) and Jordan Olshefski (associate pastor) were hired. Our first services were held in Smithfield Elementary School in March of 2011, and within a year our congregation chose godly men to be installed as our elders and deacons.

We continue to be thankful for the opportunity to meet and worship together each Sunday at Smithfield as we grow together toward what God has called us to be as a church and as individuals. We have been able to pursue ministry of various kinds in South Charlotte:

Our children’s programs include Sunday morning nursery, Sunday school, children’s worship, and youth ministry. Our adult ministries include small group ministry, adult seminar, Bible studies, and men’s and women’s ministries.

We serve our local community through a tutoring program at a local under-resourced community, a meal ministry each winter, and a fall festival for Smithfield families and the surrounding neighborhoods. We have also partnered with ministries in East Asia and Haiti to advance the gospel in these nations. We support 17 missionaries/missionary families both locally and globally. Seven of those were sent directly out of Cross Park’s congregation.

It is a joy to love and serve our community, to help one another grow in our relationship with God, and to raise up leaders for the church around the world.

What are Cross Park’s Vision and Values?

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” COLOSSIANS 1:28

Cross Park’s vision is taken from the beginning of Colossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim.” What does this mean? First, it means life is about God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ. As individuals and as the church, in all things we worship HIM. Second, it means life is designed to be lived as a part of a spiritual community. WE were meant to worship him together. Third, life with him is so vitally important that we long to share our faith. We will always look for ways to PROCLAIM the life that Jesus offers.

What we believe about Jesus shapes our church goals. All that we care about and hope to accomplish has its roots in our vision.

HIM: Worship and Word
WE: Community and Cultivation
PROCLAIM: World and Charlotte

What is the THRIVE Initiative?

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.” PSALM 92:12-13

This fall, Cross Park Church will be engaging in a generosity initiative called Thrive. We are at a moment where we need to renew our focus as a church, deepen our vision for the future, and commit to increased effectiveness in our community and our ministries.

We have chosen to call this the Thrive initiative both because of what God already does for us and because of what we believe he is calling us to. Psalm 92 compares the righteous flourishing in life to trees flourishing in healthy soil. God wants us to thrive under his care—to put our roots down deep, drink from the living water he provides, spread out our branches, and offer a place of shade, protection, and fruit. This kind of thriving is fully ours through the gospel of Christ.

By God’s grace we have grown and thrived as a church. But thriving things continue to grow and expand, and naturally they become a blessing to others. From the place where God has rooted us, we both move out to engage the world and invite in our neighbors. We pray this initiative equips us to thrive more fully so that we can help others thrive as well.

We have chosen to use a one-fund approach to this initiative. You may have participated in church campaigns in the past in which you were asked to continue giving to the General Fund while also giving to a specific need, such as a Building Fund. This is called a two-fund approach. We’re taking a one-fund approach, in which all gifts go into a single fund that allows us greater flexibility to pursue all of our vision and not just our vision for future facilities.

The gifts pledged during this initiative will cover a two-year period (2018-2019). In addition to funding our normal operating expenses, we will earmark these gifts for special projects in three categories. These categories are inspired by our three core values of “Him We Proclaim”:

We want to communicate implicitly and explicitly about the importance of families and individuals thriving through gospel discipleship. We want to help people thrive by: enriching our ministries to children and youth; enabling the discipleship of the body by ensuring we have the staff and leadership we need; and creating more opportunities to host events and gather people in fellowship throughout the week.

We need a stable place where we can worship and do ministry together. A place of our own would enable us to invite more people in to hear the gospel and be cultivated; conduct fellowship and ministry throughout the week; root our families in the gospel through more activities for children and youth; serve our community through acts of mercy; and communicate to our neighbors that we are here to stay.

Healthy churches multiply and reproduce themselves. We want to continually nurture new works of ministry in our city and the world by: helping to plant churches among underserved populations in Charlotte, supporting our domestic and global missionaries, serving our ministry partners in East Asia and Haiti, and acting as a “missions greenhouse” where people are equipped to be sent out.

What are the THRIVE Focus Areas?

Through the Thrive initiative, our goal is to raise $2.3 million for 2018 and 2019. In addition to funding our general budget and continuing in the ministries we are already doing, we are seeking to expand our giving to grow our effectiveness in three additional categories:
People, Place, and Proclaim.

PEOPLE ($180,000)
15% of expanded giving will help us invest in our people both by enriching our current ministries and assembling the staff and leadership positions we need.

PLACE ($900,000)
75% of expanded giving will go toward a new place for us to meet together. We are still early in the process of looking for this space, but this will give us options to begin looking in earnest.

PROCLAIM ($120,000)
10% of expanded giving will enable us to engage in unique ministry and missions opportunities beyond what we already do as a church, such as church planting and supporting special projects with our ministry partners.

Do We Really Need a New Place?

You’ll notice that a large portion of our expanded giving will go toward a new place. You might be thinking, “Why can’t we continue meeting at Smithfield? I like that Cross Park is a non-traditional church without a building.”

We understand your concerns. We, too, have enjoyed this season of meeting in a temporary space, sort of like the Israelites meeting in a tabernacle for many years before God blessed them with a temple. It’s a healthy reminder that the church is a group of people, not the building where the people gather. That means we can be the church anywhere we meet.

However, as we look to our future as a church, several ongoing needs are moving us toward a more permanent building space:

Space for Growth
On Sundays our sanctuary is more than 80% full, which means our capacity for growth and welcoming new people will soon be inhibited by our present situation. And our small rented office space limits opportunities for us to gather, meet, and train our staff and interns.

This past summer we were displaced for two Sundays during a golf tournament, because Smithfield was being used for tournament parking on Sundays. While Smithfield has been a gracious host with only a few hiccups so far, we are only renting this space and there is no guarantee it will always be a reliable place for us to gather.

Family Ministries
A building with adequate space and childcare amenities would give young and old the option of meeting throughout the week for Bible study, youth group, small group, meetings, discipleship, band practice, and a host of other gatherings. We would also be able to host people’s weddings, funerals, celebrations, and other major life events. Opportunities to root Cross Park families in the gospel through fellowship and discipleship would be significantly improved if we had our own facilities.

Many have voiced concerns about Cross Park’s effectiveness in providing childcare in an environment that feels clean and safe for young children. While we are committed to providing excellent care for children on Sunday mornings, we cannot control the environment as much while sharing classrooms with the school.

We would be able to host more events for our community, such as the Fall Festival, Vacation Bible School, Christmas Eve services, special concerts and speakers, and more. We could also more effectively serve our community through acts of mercy if we had a place to prepare meals, gather donations, and mobilize our people to serve.

We have little time and margin to conduct ministry on Sunday mornings. Fewer logistical demands would free up church leaders and volunteers to be more focused on people than the process of setting up and tearing down.

To reach South Charlotte effectively, we need to deepen our roots here. Visitors need to know the church’s address and recognize our building. A more permanent space communicates that we are stable and committed.

Finally, we have heard from many experts that there is a lifespan to “church-in-a-box.” If we simply keep going as is, we may eventually lose momentum and lose our ability to be as effective in the long-run. Starting now is a way to wisely prepare for the future.

Even if you love meeting at Smithfield (or really enjoy those folding chairs!), don’t worry. We will not be moving immediately and will still be meeting at Smithfield for the near future. But if we are going to move to a more stable place in the future, we have to start raising capital now to be able to seriously consider any other options.

What Do We Ask of You?

Pray for your own stewardship and examine your heart regarding the gifts God has given you.

Pray for generosity to abound in the hearts of Cross Park families.

Pray for Cross Park Church leadership and staff in all the ongoing decisions to be made throughout this initiative.

Pray that we will be effective in ministering to our own families, to our community, and to the world.

Follow the prayer prompts in the Prayer Calendar and the Generosity Journal.

Commit to going through the Generosity Journal during our five-week sermon series beginning on October 22.

Commit to living in a more open-handed and generous way in all areas of your life.

Commit to supporting Cross Park Church with a pledge on Commitment Sunday (November 19, 2017).

Hold discussions in your small groups about generosity.

Give encouragement to one another and hold one another accountable to live sacrificial, generous, fruitful lives.

Trust in God’s faithful provision for Cross Park.

Put your hope not in your own abilities, but in God’s power, promise, and faithfulness.

Know that he will never leave nor forsake us.