Stones Crossing Church in Greenwood, Indiana, was originally founded by five couples who had been meeting for a small group Bible study. The longer this band of believers met, the more they experienced the power of spiritual formation and accountability. They invited more people to share in the experience, and the group grew to 40.
It wasn’t long before God laid a vision on their hearts–a new kind of church grounded in God’s Word but formed around the small group encounters that had changed their lives.
The first public worship service was held the Sunday before Christmas 1996, and within a year, they officially organized under the name Grace Fellowship. Services at this time were held in a cafeteria. They were traditional in nature, but the heavy emphasis on small group study and discussion never changed. Pastor Scott Luck was selected to shepherd this growing flock.
In short order, the church grew to 150 members and services moved to a local elementary school. By 1998, the church outgrew this location and moved to a high school auditorium. Around that same time, the church purchased 35 acres of land, a purchase that was paid in full in just over one year. This would one day become the site of their first church building.
Though the church was growing consistently, most of its early members were transfers from other local churches. In 1999, a vision began to form for Pastor Scott of a church that would reach out to the un-churched, those who had given up on church, and those far from God. He took the unconventional step of going door-to-door to ask residents in the community why they believed so many people avoided church.
Their answers revealed several common themes: The sermons were boring and not relevant to their lives. The church was a place of cliques, where they would be treated like outsiders. They were wanted and valued only for their potential financial contribution. And they didn’t feel comfortable leaving their children in the care of the volunteers.
A New Vision for Reaching the Unchurched
Based on this input, Grace Fellowship made the intentional decision to transform into a church that would build up the existing body of believers while at the same time extending its reach to those who might otherwise never find hope in Christ.
The congregation changed its name to The Church at Stones Crossing, a more contemporary name that explained the church’s location while personifying the more relaxed feel the church wanted to convey. Sermons were prepared to be biblical but not boring. Music, drama, and media were programmed to be sensitive to contemporary culture, while still uncompromisingly scriptural.
The leadership of the church began to examine every message the church was sending–spoken and unspoken–right down to Pastor Scott’s suit and tie (which were promptly abandoned, much to his delight, in favor of more casual wardrobe choices).
“From the very first meeting with the Stones Crossing leadership team, it was evident that this church was serious about reaching more people for Christ,” says Bob Gray, Aspen Group’s project developer for Stones Crossing.
Change is always hard, and there was a whole lot of it going on at Stones Crossing. But because the vision of the leadership was clear, the church soon caught their heart for reaching the lost. The charge was repeated consistently: invite your friends and your neighbors and your co-workers and we will meet them where they are, and then point them toward Christ. And that is precisely what happened.
Today, roughly 900 people attend Stones Crossing Church each week at the site they purchased and built on in 2003. Over the years, the church has become known for strengthening marriages and families.
“Young parents want to know how to disciple their kids and invest in their marriage,” says Dave Whitehead, executive pastor. “We’re real, inviting, and welcoming.”
This welcoming culture has led to steady growth, especially among families, which is putting pressure on their children’s ministry space. The church debated whether to stay in this building, which was quickly becoming too small to accommodate their growth.
“The church knew it was facing some difficult decisions because they were growing at a rapid pace, and the current spaces were not keeping up with the growth,” says Gray.
“Aspen Group helped us create a long-term plan, which will include kids ministry expansion,” says Whitehead. “We’ve decided to stay in our current building and potentially plant a church when we’ve outgrown this building.”
Whitehead, a member at Stones Crossing for 13 years, and an elder for 10 years, explains that though the church is running out of space in their kids area, they decided to tackle a sanctuary remodel first to create momentum within the congregation.
After much consideration and prayer, the church leadership chose to focus its efforts on renovating and repurposing the current worship space.
“The gym / sanctuary that they had worshipped in was quickly becoming a barrier to reaching the increasing crowd,” says Gray. “The church was having challenges in delivering the message well. Basically, the sanctuary was just not working well for the ministry.”
“We viewed the sanctuary remodel as a mini-win before we embarked on a larger phased building project,” says Whitehead.
Tech Updates in the Sanctuary
For the sanctuary project, Aspen brought in LiveSpace, an audio/video/lighting company, to create a plan for integrating new sound, lighting, projectors, and an LED wall in the auditorium.
“We installed a line array from L’Acoustics, which is the same audio speaker manufacturer that is used by the likes of Adele, Zac Brown Band, Maroon 5, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers,” says Mike Mrozinski, a project development manager with LiveSpace.
The church chose to go with an audio console from Allen & Heath after having a positive experience with the manufacturer at a community service at a local theater.
“The most stunning piece of the install is a 12’ tall x 22’ wide LED wall that enables them to create scenes and backdrops digitally, instead of building bulky and complicated stage sets,” says Mrozinski.
Finally a performance theater grade lighting rig was installed with control for the Elation LED fixtures facilitated by a Jands Vista Lighting Console.
“Our mission and vision has sharpened on communicating the gospel and making disciples,” says Whitehead. “The tech upgrades will help us communicate the gospel more effectively. We believe this will result in changed lives.”
Along with critical tech upgrades, Aspen also painted the sanctuary ceiling black, installed new carpet, and added new stairs.
Modernizing the auditorium may have been a “mini-win” for momentum, but it’s a big win for ministry impact.
“We were able to develop a team of partners that assisted us in delivering a space that now works well for the church,” says Gray. “We are excited to share this transformation that has resulted in new excitement and momentum in this growing congregation.”