In 2012 the Bolingbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church had fifty to sixty people attending on a regular basis. When Jose Saint-Phard signed on to be the pastor, the church struggled without a clear unified vision. The church was change resistant. They told pastor Saint-Phard “We are the frozen chosen.” While the people were loving there was simply no central core vision. Members had no sense of personal calling or direction.
Under Pastor Saint-Phard’s leadership the church prayed for three months and then presented a visionary roadmap to the board with a mission “to develop Christ-like disciples of all ages.” The mission provided a key to unlocking all of the previous battles over music, worship, and other church activities. The discussion moved from ‘what things do we as a board like,’ to ‘what do we need to reach all ages, including our young people.’
As a result the church began to experiment with new strategies to fulfill the mission. The budget was formed to directly support the mission. If something wasn’t in the mission, it wasn’t funded. As a result the church began to grow deeper and wider.
“I think if someone were to walk into Bolingrbook today five year later, it would be vastly different,” says Saint-Phard. “Our average attendance is around 350-450. We are incredibly more diverse.” Five years earlier visitors were treated with indifference. Today the church welcomes visitors with exuberance because visitors is why the church exists. To keep the mission on track, Pastor Jose meets with potential new members to discuss the church’s mission and goals.
While the church growth continues to outpace the physical space, Saint-Phard emphasizes that the church is not a building, rather it is people. He envisions the growth to continue in difference places around the greater Chicago area.