After much prayer, reflection, and discussion, the elders have made the decision to close the Cochran Campus of Sojourn Church. Although this is not what we ultimately hoped for when we launched the Cochran Campus in August of 2015, our efforts in Cochran have not been fruitless. We have seen families added to Sojourn Church through the Cochran Campus, and it appears that the overwhelming majority of the original core group and these new families will continue to be a part of Sojourn Church. The possibility of a Cochran Campus of Sojourn Church in the future still exists, but now is not the right time.
Pastor Lee Wright, who lives in Cochran, leads a Community Group in Cochran, and has been a leader at the Cochran Campus, wrote a letter to the Cochran Campus members and attenders. The letter is below, in italics. I encourage you to read it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or any of the other elders of Sojourn Church.
On Wednesday, Apr 13, the Cochran Community Groups and the elders met to discuss the Cochran Campus of Sojourn Church. The elders shared their assessment of how to move forward which received overall consensus from the group.
Sojourn started services in Cochran with a core group that wanted to give an opportunity for others in our community to experience the same kind of gospel-empowered life-transformation that we have experienced since being part of Sojourn Church. There was a lot of momentum and interest at the launch resulting in several families and individuals regularly attending, growing in grace, and becoming part of Sojourn. Over time, various circumstances like people moving, pursuing other ministry opportunities, and other life events took people away. We saw a similar pattern after the move to the new facility, a flurry of visitors then a return to slightly more than the original core group.
Of course, there are always opportunities for improvements, but there have been many, many things done well in Cochran. After looking at our past experiences, the experience of other church plants, and prayerfully seeking wisdom, we firmly believe the stumbling block for church growth at our stage is having someone full-time that is dedicated to working all of the aspects of starting a new site. All of the ideas and efforts discussed were good and valid but have limited effect without having a church planter/campus pastor to build relationships, networks, and systems. Currently, we do not have someone to fill this role and do not foresee that possibility in the near future.
Reduced to the options of an extended period of stagnation or closing the Cochran campus, we feel that closing the Cochran campus is the healthiest option. Obviously, this is not where we wanted or expected to be at this point, and so there is some heaviness of heart that comes with this decision. What does this mean for us practically? There are some details to work through, but the only real difference for us is that there will not be Sunday services in Cochran. The last Sunday gathering in Cochran will be April 24th. There remains, however, a very real presence of Sojourn Church in Cochran that was here before the Cochran campus began and still remains. We continue to be a family of believers in Cochran seeking to live in gospel-centered community to glorify God and advance his kingdom.
My hope and desire is that all who have connected with Sojourn will continue to meet together at the Sunday gatherings in Warner Robins. I am convinced that we need and, by God's grace, will receive the encouragement that the Spirit gives through worshipping together. This kind of encouragement is a common theme in the New Testament and points to the difficulty of living on mission in a fallen world but also of God's faithfulness to accomplish his purposes even through disappointment and discouragement.
As always, please communicate freely and openly with each other and the elders as we work through this transition. Lastly, please pray with me what is expressed in these verses:
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Gal 6:9
"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you [us] to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Rom 15:4-5