Shall We Stay in Oak Park? (article)
Article 15 of 30 from the Ponder This - 2001 series
April 2001 – It may interest you to know that our church has just celebrated its 86th birthday. We may not look or feel 86 years old, but that’s how old we really are. Our congregation was born in the early months of 1915 when a handful of men and women met together to consider the possibility of starting an independent church in Oak Park that would center around three things: preaching the Bible as the Word of God, winning men and women to personal faith in Christ, and sending missionaries to the ends of the earth. They held their first Sunday service in March 1915. When they counted their money, they had less than $100 to cover the cost of buying folding chairs, hymnals, and other necessary supplies. Soon they called a young man named Louis Talbot as their first pastor. They met for a while in a rented storefront on Madison Street. After several years they purchased a lot at the corner of Madison and Wisconsin. The church stayed on that location until a fire destroyed the sanctuary in 1977. Two years later, the congregation took a huge step of faith and purchased our current property.
In the years since then the Lord has blessed us beyond our expectations. Not long after moving to Lake Street, we began a second worship service. A few years ago we added a third service. And now we’re even thinking about adding a fourth service. Last Sunday our attendance was 1,800-the highest in our history.
No one knows what the future holds but it seems as if the Lord is sending us more new people all the time. We’ve never had a “master plan” for growth and we’ve never set numerical goals. We’ve simply tried to minister the love of Christ to those who come our way. With God’s help, we intend to continue that in the future.
Four years ago the elders established a Facilities Expansion Task Force to consider various options to help us plan wisely for the future. From the beginning it has been the conviction of our leadership that God called us to Oak Park and that we should stay here until the Lord clearly moves us elsewhere. With that in mind, the task force has spent the last four years considering various ways to expand in our current location. We now believe that we have a plan that will enable us to double the number of people we reach every week while staying at this location. It won’t be easy to do and it won’t be cheap. But we believe the challenge before us offers a magnificent opportunity to trust God for big things. As we move toward the crucial vote on Sunday, June 3, please take time to learn about the expansion plan. If we can have the same bold faith our founders had, our church will continue to shine the light of the gospel in Oak Park for many years to come.
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