TRUCKVILLE, Pa. (BRN) — Eight people were signed up.
It was just like any other year at Cross Creek Community Church. Baptism season was on the horizon, and it was time to start reaching out to those who desired to proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ publicly.
“Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of people baptized – in creeks, in ponds, in pools, baptistry tanks, [even] in a cow trough –it’s just a beautiful thing,” shared lead pastor Dave Martin.
But then, the unexpected happened – a global pandemic.
Well-known businesses, nationwide organizations, and local churches were forced to dim the lights, close the doors, and drain the baptistries, as the world searched for protection from an unfamiliar virus.
“COVID hit us pretty hard,” said Martin.
Cross Creek, located in Truckville, Pennsylvania, lost two “dear saints” to the virus and left many uneasy and under the weather, including Pastor Martin and his wife.
As the pandemic carried on, Cross Creek – like so many other churches – switched to a virtual presence, holding Sunday services online.
“We connected with a lot of people in our community, really, honestly, around the world. They see our streaming, they hear the messages, they participate in our worship and so, once we start to open back up, we start to see people,” explained Martin.
“Consequently, you know, we start talking baptism again…if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, that’s the next step. You know, make disciples – ‘baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’ That’s our mandate; we can’t get away from the Word.”
As a result of preaching that “mandate” and sharing the Gospel, Cross Creek saw 25 people publicly confess their belief in Jesus Christ through baptism – more than doubling their number of baptisms prior to the pandemic.
“When you see lives changed by the Lord Jesus, people responding to the Gospel message, and then following the Lord in obedience in the waters of baptism – a public way of sharing their faith – I mean, man, there’s no dry eyes out there in the congregation.”
Some of the individuals who were baptized had never stepped foot in Cross Creek before the pandemic.
“It was just a blessing to hear the testimonies of these individuals coming to faith in Christ. Some were saved years ago, some were saved watching us via streaming, and some were saved just recently – like the past month or two. Everybody is different,” shared Martin.
Of those 25 individuals, two were children and the rest were young adults, middle-aged folks, or older individuals.
“I think a life changed by the Lord Jesus is the witness, the billboard, [and] the testimony of our community…it’s just a tremendous blessing” said Martin.
On the topic of community, Martin also shared how the movement of people being faithful through baptism impacted the body of Christ at Cross Creek.
“God uses us – all of us – in the Body of Christ. We all function…and the difference it makes? It makes a big difference, because people are seeing this is reality, this is truth,” shared Martin.
“What happens is people step up to the plate [and say], ‘Oh, man, I want to be a part of this…I wanna be involved with VBS…I wanna help in Celebrate Recovery.’ Whatever the ministry is…people start to step up because other people are stepping up [and] a lot of people want to get involved, because God is doing something in a huge way.”
Cross Creek Community Church originally began in 1999, when Pastor Martin felt God calling him to start a church. Coming from humble beginnings, the church initially started meeting in a storefront in Dallas, Pennsylvania, and averaged a congregation of 20 individuals.
Since then, the church has grown out of its little storefront building and expanded into the current building it calls home. On most Sundays, post-pandemic, it averages nearly 500 people.
“Honestly, God uses those circumstances, those experiences of life that we go through to teach us and to grow us,” said Martin, referring to the pandemic.
“The blessing of God was there. We had to shift our focus, but we all grew through that. We grew deeper and closer with Jesus and that’s really what it’s all about. It might have been intended for bad, but God worked it for good.”
Heading into the future, Cross Creek will continue to see transformation within their walls, as Martin prepares to step down from his role as lead pastor. According to Martin, the transition will be over the course of two years, as he trains an associate pastor to take over his position.
“I sort of feel like John the Baptist – ‘I must decrease, as He must increase.’ We’re doing sort of a two-year hand-off here, so I’m slowly decreasing,” explained Martin.
Reflecting on his years of ministry, Martin offered some advice to other pastors finding themselves in a similar spot of transition.
Listen to the podcast interview:
The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!