On April 1st of this year, I celebrated one year of service and ministry at the Forest Park Carthage Campus as Campus Pastor. I can’t even begin to share with you all I’ve learned and all God has done this past year. When I arrived a year ago, the church was unhealthy, struggling, morale was low and attendance was around 200. God has moved, I’ve made some key changes (including hiring new staff) and we are seeing a lot of momentum. Morale is high.

On Easter of this year, I challenged our people to invite people in their circles of influence to come to church. I wanted us to break the 400 barrier because we had been averaging around 350 people. I told them if we broke 400 on Easter, I would let them shave my head and give me a Carthage blue mo-hawk (our high school’s color). Our new worship pastor said that if we broke 500, that he would get all his hair shaved off. Guess what? We shattered my goal and had over 500 people on Easter – so both myself and my worship pastor got our heads shaved live in front of the congregation the following week after Easter.

I could share stories of life change and the baptisms that I’ve been able to do that are very special and meaningful to me. I could share of how God did a miracle to allow us to purchase a new building for our campus (right in the heart of town – there is no better location in the city) and how we’re renovating it and plan on being in for the Christmas season this year.

I could share of going on a mission trip to Kenya last summer and Haiti this Spring and preaching at our sister church there. My life has been forever changed by seeing third world countries first hand.

I could talk about after having been a student of multi-site churches for years, I now have a year’s worth of experience of seeing under the hood of a multi-site church. I could share of the lessons I’ve learned of being a Campus Pastor – how that transition from 17 years of worship ministry experience has gone. I could talk about the inner workings of a multi-site church and how God used multi-site to allow our 160 year old Baptist church to get younger and reach a different demographic and region by adding modern worship satellite campuses.

I could share about leading my staff, serving on our overall church’s Lead Team or Executive Team and creating a Leadership Team at my campus (including learning the lesson of asking someone to serve on it too soon after arriving and then later having them step down after their true colors showed – then adding new trusted and proven people to our Leadership Team).

So many lessons, so many memories. I will share more soon. I promise. I just wanted you to know what God has been up to over the last year. It has flown by and for those of you that have followed my blog for several years and seen my frequency of posting dwindle down – I think you know how swamped I have been with diving into a new position. My writing for here and other websites and magazines has taken a back seat to my role as a pastor, but it was necessary and needed. I love my church and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us over the next year of ministry.

I close every service with the following prayer from Ephesians 3:20-21…

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Greg Atkinson

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