Can you believe that it’s been 40 years since Friendship Church was officially registered in the State of Minnesota? What amazes me more is the amount of ministry that God had done through our church. Over these 40 years, we have seen thousands of lives changed and mine is one of them.
Since I first walked through the doors of the Prior Lake Campus in February of 1987, it was clear that Friendship’s vision was to reach Scott County. My first encounter was with our youth ministry, led by a young man named Pastor Mark Gold. I instantly was intrigued in the message of how one can know God in a personal sense. This fascination led to a life decision to fully follow Jesus and I haven’t looked back.
The eighties laid firm foundations in many ministries that would lead to an unprecedented outreach in Scott County. I remember the hiring of several new pastors that were instrumental in spring-boarding the Gospel message into our local communities. Ones that come to mind are Worship Arts, Children, and Financial Pastors with their abilities. Growth was aggressive and our tagline was “Bible Based – Family Building.” We lived these core values and still do today.
As we transitioned into the nineties, God blessed us with creative ideas that brought about our notorious Bethlehem and Christmas Productions, which made local news. Bethlehem was a well-researched first century rendition bringing people back in time, while the productions were near Broadway quality, evangelistic plays that brought hundreds to professions of faith in Jesus. Many churches began doing the same and even consulted with us.
More and more families came, and we had to add substantial staff members to accommodate the load. In the late nineties, God led us to begin fund raising for a “Second Fishing Pond” in Shakopee, which at that time, was in need of more churches.
I came on staff in February 2003 right after the completion of our Shakopee Campus and we saw continued blessing of the Lord. We had two sites, but the same church. I remember that there were only a few churches doing multi-site ministry in the nation! We ran many programs and saw a lot of marriages improved, youth on fire for God, and care ministry grow to a nationally respected level.
We’ve also experienced hard transitions and the losses that those incur. I’ve seen resilience and God refreshing Friendship through every challenge that we’ve faced. I have come to the conclusion that God has a special place for Friendship Church in our community due to the fact that we are still here and prospering in ministry, while other churches have had to close their doors.
One of reasons I think God has blessed us is because of our non-compromising stand on missions. Throughout the 2000s and into this decade, we’ve added mission trips, missionaries, and expanded our local outreach substantially. We have sister churches in Haiti and the Czech Republic. We have home-grown missionaries that are running cross-cultural ministry. We spend over 10% of our General Funds to missions and God continues to bless.
This blog merely outlines my brief observations of God’s hand on Friendship Church. There are an abundance of stories and inspiring examples that I couldn’t capture. However, if you’re reading this and have this Wednesday evening available (August 7, 2019), we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary at the Prior Lake Campus. We will have tons of memorabilia, photos displayed on all of our monitors, an engaging program and refreshments. I personally invite you. Doors open at 6:00pm!