“Someday the city will grow in our direction.” That’s what Five Oaks member Tom Berg told me back in 1996 as we walked the 19 acres of the newly acquired church property. Tom was leading the search team for a new pastor. I had come up from Kansas for an interview.
Two barns and a farmhouse were all that remained of what had been known as the Five Oaks Ranch. Surrounded by farmland and not a housing development in sight, I was thinking, ‘If the first rule for buying real estate is location, location, location, this is not the place to build.’ It seemed out of the way and far from all the new development in Woodbury. But at least 19 acres seemed like more than we would ever need.
That was almost 17 years ago and Woodbury was poised to grow eastward. And boy did it grow! It added 20,000 new residents to the east. Even so, as the population was growing away from us, we grew too, from a congregation of about 175 to a congregation of over 1600 who are active today.
Those 19 acres have served us well all these years. And they will serve us well for several more.
But Woodbury will now expand to the south. It’s all coming toward us! And, get this, 20,000 more people are moving to within a five-minute driving radius of our property within the next ten years! We simply will need more land to meet our missional potential.
What was once a fledgling church wondering if it would survive the departure of its founding pastor is now an established, innovative and vibrant, disciple-making community, mobilized and impacting the world for Christ.
What was once farmhouse and barns is now a church building where thousands of people from the community come to worship or simply to play basketball, hold recitals or feed thousands of hungry children.
It’s a place where, a couple of years ago, more people made first-time decisions to follow Christ than we had in average attendance when I came almost 17 years ago.
And it’s a place where Tom Berg’s words will come true and this pastor can finally start singing, “Location, location, location.”