Church Sees Nearly 400% Increase in Missions Giving
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When Pastor Ryan Story and his wife, Mary, accepted the pastorate at Grace Community in 2017, they recognized the congregation’s need for new vision and direction. Although the church had a great history of service in the community, prior to the Storys’ arrival the congregation had faced leadership turnovers, the closure of a school, and a steady decline in attendance. Members of the church board and lay leadership had rallied to fill ministry roles traditionally held by the pastor.
The Smithfield area was experiencing population growth, and Grace Church needed to find a way to re-engage with the community. With new leadership at the helm, as well as the inspiration and training found in the Acts 2 Journey (A2J), today the church leadership is seeing great results.
“The Acts 2 Journey helped us to solidify an overall plan for vision and direction,” Ryan Story says. “We were all on the same ship, but we were looking in different directions at times. Now, since the A2J, we are still on that ship but with everyone looking in the same direction. That unity of purpose and vision has been huge in our being able to engage with our local community.”
New families are coming to worship at Grace Community and staying to get involved. In one year’s time the church’s missions giving has seen a nearly 400% increase. The congregation has participated in several outreach events this past year: hosting the Second Annual Back 2 School Bash with over 200 backpack giveaways, partnering with the local "Miracle League" to assist special-needs children in playing baseball, and participating in the citywide Easter Egg Hunt.
"The Acts 2 Journey was key to helping our leadership at Grace Community see things from a different perspective,” Story states. “To be in the room with other leaders from surrounding churches really spoke to all of us, and we were able to work together to formulate a plan for ministry. We have truly been blessed by the Acts 2 Journey, and we continue to be excited about all the Lord is doing in and through us.”
The year-long Acts 2 Journey effort, led by Alton Garrison, helps strengthen churches as they revisit their mission, vision, and values. To date, 1,445 churches have taken the journey, and 1,114 of those have received an AGTrust scholarship to help them participate.