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hope for churches in stress

New Trail

In 2007, New Trail Fellowship near Abilene (Ks.) was launched to serve the western heritage community of the Smoky Valley Region by reaching the uncommitted for Christ.

For five years the new church thrived. Then misunderstandings occurred. Factions developed within the fellowship and the young church was in real danger of collapse.

The pastor and remaining people were committed to the founding vision and to caring for people who were hurting. They sought out a consultant who specializes in church stress and embraced a process of reconciliation and recovery.

In three visits over seven months, the church troubleshooter listened to three dozen persons to discern causes and issues, offered recommendations to leadership, assisted with initial implementation, and presented teaching on managing conflict.

In response, the people of New Trail committed themselves to fervent prayer (that continues to this day). The pastor made apologies and, along with newly appointed lay pastors, offered care to people offended or hurt. An executive assistant assumed administrative responsibilities to supplement the pastor’s evangelistic and preaching gifts. And folks began to use conflict management skills before issues got out of hand.

Two years later, New Trail is thriving once again. Some people have been restored. New people are coming. The church is moving ahead in ministry, outreach, and facility development.

The mission of New Trail is to make known the path (or trail) of life (Ps. 16.11). As they actively proclaim this good news, they have a fresh appreciation for the Lord Jesus who, with their tears and prayer and hard work, has shown them the trail forward as a church.

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