How a dying church found new life

We knew we had to do something to revitalize the church.

When I came to Indianola Church of Christ five and a half years ago, the leaders of the church were facing many important decisions. After decades of declining attendance, we had to decide whether or not we had a reason for continuing on as a church family in the community where we were located.

We were a very old church whose best years were in the distant past. Many of our members were over the age of 60, and there were very few families with children. Yet we were located two blocks from the Ohio State University.

We realized that in order to survive and someday thrive as a church, we had to relearn how to reach students and pass our faith along to the next generation of church leaders.

We had to become good at something we barely knew that we could do. 

Making the kinds of changes we needed to make to reach college students and young adults was not easy. Those changes involved great sacrifices for our older adults. Indianola Church would need to serve and focus on reaching a group of people who were challenging to reach, significantly different than the majority of our church members, and living in a world many of our members barely understood.

Everything from the appearance of our building to our style or worship needed changing. And all of these changes had to take place with minimal financial resources. And they also required our older adults to serve a younger generation faithfully and joyfully, with no assurance that these changes would make a significant enough impact.

Investing in the lives of college students is probably the greatest thing our church could ever have done.

It has been a great joy to become an increasingly multigenerational church, watching college students worshiping, fellowshiping, and serving alongside senior adults.

There is now a growing understanding and appreciation between the generations. As our senior adults continue to serve our young adults, our young adults are finding ways of serving our senior adults in return.The most exciting thing is to see God move in and through our congregation—seeing new young people come to our coffee shop, show up at CCO fellowship meetings, and join us for Sunday morning worship services. Their youth and enthusiasm is infectious!

None of this would have happened without the leadership of CCO staff, first Lauren Alexander, and then later with Ryan Kindell. God has blessed us with two leaders who are fully committed to the goals and mission of a partnership between a campus ministry and a local church.  

The vision of what a partnership with the CCO can bring to a local church is a very real vision. We have seen it come to life at Indianola—and we are still at the beginning stages of what this transformation will bring.

by Mike Richardson, Lead Pastor, Indianola Church of Christ