|Families find a place to worship together at Rocky Fork|
Here's some of the rest that didn't fit, plus some photographs that didn't make it into print:
Rocky Fork's senior minister, Mark Butrum, was the subject of a 2006 Chrsitian Standard article, The Mark Project, by Daniel Schantz. The Mark Project by Daniel Schantz. More from my interview with Mark Butrum: Why do people drive from as far away as Columbia, Moberly, even Fulton, to attend church at RFF?
I joke about it. When we show up at a visitor's house we’re going to bring you a plate of cookies, to thank you. Because you passed up a lot of churches to come to church in a cafeteria that smells like a cafeteria. So we appreciate it.Butrum on the size of the staff:
I feel like if you find some place that’s got some good pizza, you’ll drive a little farther. You can get pizza anywhere that’s just OK. But if you want really good pizza, you’ll go get it. We’ve got to be able to provide that. Excellence in everything you do. That’s hard when you’re in a temporary building. It takes a lot of volunteers. It seems to be working.
We have three full times staff. Besides me there's a worship minister and the youth minister. We're looking at adding a full time children's minister. We also have part time administrative help, which is currently my wife. We need to add another role there, too. We’re probably behind on full time staff members, for the numbers we’re seeing. But I get a lot of mileage out of the elders too. We work those guys hard.Butrum on Sushi:
Several Central Christian College students have been really involved in the youth ministry and children's ministry. Other people come early help set up chairs, equipment, lights, sound, etc.
We have a group called Sushi – it has no meaning – for 20-somethings, for college students and others in that age range. We average about 40 attending, from Columbia and Moberly, MACC, plus some non college
|Mark Butrum (in green) greets people as they arrive|
We have a What We Believe class. They come to hear what our doctrines are, what are beliefs are.Butrum on plans for the new building:
We have people say, 'I’ve been going to Church X for umpteen years and I’m not sure what they believe.' So we teach them what we believe. Bert and I teach that and we lay it all out there, let them ask questions. And we ask them questions. One we ask is 'How did you find Rocky Fork? And what made you come back?'
So often it’s, well I found you because I was driving by the school on a Sunday morning and saw all the cars, or I heard about you through some friends. Predominately the answer of why they came back, it's, 'I liked it; I felt like I belonged, and the preacher was in the parking lot and shook my hand and he knew my name the second time I came back.'
I learned that by accident from Ben Merrold. I went to Harvester Christian Church one Sunday, my wife and I. It was a hot day, they were having a car show. This little man pulling a wagon full of water bottles comes along. He says would you like a water? I said, no thanks, we’ll just go inside.
And he said, I’m trying to get these folks from the car show to come inside. It’s Ben Merrold, pulling a little wagon through the parking lot. And I’m thinking, that’s an awesome idea. The preacher’s in the parking lot greeting people, getting them inside.
Well I talked to him since, and he said 'I’ve never done that again.' But now I do it every Sunday. I try to remember names. I know we’ll get to a point where I can’t do it. But names are important. People matter. They know that, it makes them feel like they belong.
I try to impress that all my folks, to learn their names. People respond to that. They feel like they belong if people know their names.
One of the things we want to do when we get a building is to make it available to the community for non-church activities. My dream is that when we’re done with our first building would be turn that over to the community as a community center. It would be on our property, but it could be a community center. We’ve talked about putting in ball fields and outdoor tracks on the property so people can use it.Rocky Fork elder Bert Adams on how he became involved with the church plant:
This idea was given to me, this wasn’t something I dreamed up. We were asked, are you interested in this? At first I didn’t jump on it. God gnawed at me, He said, listen, you gotta quit running from things that scare you. Obviously it scared me because I’m a country boy and I don’t feel like I can do anything. That’s bothered me my whole life.
|Rocky Fork t-shirts provide a way for people to identify |
themselves as part of the Fellowship
I think if you take the religious mask off and allow the people to experience what church should be about rather quickly, the church will grow. There’s not a façade that you’ve got to work through and eventually if you might find it. It’s not masqueraded in something.Corey Mehaffey,President of the Moberly Area Economic Developpment Corporation, on Rocky Fork's growth:
I think one of the advantages Rocky Fork has had is that this building is not something that intimidates people. Meeting in this community building makes this a community church and takes away that apprehension a lot of people have. People are looking for a place other than home where they can take their family and interact with other families.Eric Pendell, president of Alpha Omega, a church assessment and campaign consultant service Rocky Fork has hired, on what's next for Rocky Fork:
This is one church that does so many things right. Typically we teach a church we consult a lot about how to do outreach, but Rocky Fork is just years beyond what most churches at this point.Rocky Fork faces two very practical needs if they hope to continue to grow, according to Pendell:
They just don’t have the manpower to continue what they’re doing. Once they get a few more staff and more organized, they’ll start going forward. Also, the inability to have a place during the week. If you’re going to have church just on Sunday, don’t bother. They want to build a building they can use at least six days a week, with activities where the community can come and use the facilities.I want to express my thanks to Mark Butrum and to everyone else at Rocky Fork Fellowship who welcomed me, tolerated my intrusions, and took time to answer my questions.