ST. CHARLES — It’s just like getting a Mohawk.
“I knew if God was in it—and He was, I could be completely honest with them,” said Matt Bartig, lead pastor at NorthRoad Community Church in Moscow Mills. “I told them we are going to cut it, turn it, and spike it up. I said it will be the same material, but I promise you it’s going to look completely different than it has ever looked before.”
Bartig used the “Mohawk” metaphor to explain to the loyal members of Jungs Station Baptist Church that if they voted to allow NorthRoad to “adopt” them, they were voting for radical change.
They voted 40-1 to accept the terms of the adoption and allow NorthRoad to build a team and re-package their beloved church into a new thing. The new church is called NorthRoad Harvester Campus.
Bill Troutman, one of the founding members of the original church on Jungs Station Road who is now a part of NorthRoad Harvester’s tech team, said not long before they voted in favor of the adoption they had been praying for God to help them reach their community.
“With every step we’ve taken you can just tell the Lord’s in it,” Troutman said. “You can feel the excitement of a new work and the reality that our trajectory is set to reach the community. That’s the most important thing. Because if we aren’t reaching the community, we’re not doing what we’re called to do.”
Though the new church hasn’t officially launched yet, they’ve been hard at work to prepare. They’ve started weekly small group Bible studies, hired leadership, they’ve saturated the place with prayer, and they’ve also been giving the church building itself a fresh new look. Their plan is to do a preview service each month leading up to the launch.
“We thought we’d have about 100 at first, then maybe 150 for the second, and 200 by the third one,” Bartig said. “On Nov. 20 we did the first preview service and 360 people showed up! I’m telling you, these people got crazy-avid about inviting their neighbors, their family, their friends — people were pouring through the doors and there were tears in their eyes just seeing the children in the church. They hadn’t had a kid in children’s ministry here in a long time and now they are seeing life again. God is doing some incredible stuff and the excitement is unbelievable.”
While this is the first replant opportunity NorthRoad has taken on, the church is certainly no stranger to sudden growth. NorthRoad Community Church was planted just five years ago with six couples and a vision. Now it has become a church-planting church plant with 660+ average attendance and it is still growing.
“In just five years God has really moved and we’ve seen 400 people get baptized,” Bartig said. “We’ve set out to be a church that reaches families and we’re doing that through Celebrate Recovery and an adoption ministry. Right now we have upwards of 50 kids who have been either adopted or are in foster care with families in our church.”
“I like that NorthRoad is not a church that’s just sitting here, ” Troutman said. “We are about finding ways to make a real difference with people.”
Bartig said there are many struggling churches out there that might do well to consider trying out a Mohawk for a change.
“What’s messed up about the church is this: we don’t drive a 1957 Chevy, we don’t have ice delivered to our front door, or our milk delivered in glass jugs,” he said. “But in many places we do church like it’s 1958 or 1988 and we wonder why this generation, a new culture, is not interested. We still drive cars, we drink milk and we use ice. The product is the same, but the way it’s packaged and delivered is completely different. Churches have got to figure out how to take the truth of the gospel—which never changes, and package it so that it’s relevant and makes sense to this culture.