In 2019 New Horizons Church began discussions about closing due to low attendance, but through prayerful change, the church has revitalized and now has over 50 attendees per week.
Located in Republic, Missouri, New Horizons Church was averaging less than 15 attendees each Sabbath in 2019, according to the church’s pastor, Rodney Long. New Horizons Church met in a building that was once the meeting place of Jehovah Witnesses. Long said that this created complications as many in the community believed New Horizons Church was still a Jehovah Witness meeting place.
As attendance continued to decrease, Long and his wife began exploring other job opportunities. He asked the church to pray for God’s leading in his and his wife’s job hunt. Both Long and his wife applied to jobs. They prayed that if God wanted them to stay in the area, Long’s wife would be offered a job locally. But, if God wanted them to move, they prayed for Long to be offered a job that took them away from Republic, Missouri.
In answer to their prayer, Long’s wife was offered a job that would keep them in the area. Less than 24 hours later Long was offered the job he applied for, which would lead them away from Republic, Missouri and New Horizons Church. Long declined the job offer and instead dedicated himself to God’s mission for the church.
“I prayed, ‘Lord, you’ve made it very clear what I need to do,’” Long said. “‘And so, because of that, I will now give you every single thing that you want of me for this church.’”
Long met with the church members and together they entered 21 days of fasting and prayer. The church asked God what they could do to revitalize the church, according to Long. Additionally, church members took spiritual gift assessments to see areas in which God had called them to minister.
According to Long, the faith of the members grew, and they began to tell others about Jesus. Simultaneously the church began to grow, and people were baptized.
One week after the church started to baptize people, COVID-19 mandates limited group size. Due to these mandates, the church did not meet in-person.
The group continued their discussions of revitalization through Zoom meetings and phone conversations. After a few months of virtual meetings and church services, New Horizons Church resumed in-person.
Long said the church examined its strengths and weaknesses. He said that together the church created a motto and vision and discussed how the church felt called to minister.
“We found that evangelism, prayer ministry, focus community awareness, men’s and women’s ministry and addiction, youth and health ministries, was what God was calling us to,” Long said.
In 2021 the church relaunched. According to Long, the church began seeing an increase in attendance.
“Because of everything that God was doing in us through this process [of establishing our motto and vision], we were starting to pick up new members,” Long said.
Long said that attendance increased to an average of 50 people a week. New Horizons Church head elder Lee Roberts said he is amazed by the attendance increase.
“When [COVID-19] arrived in our area we had 10-20 people in our worship services,” said Roberts. “On [July 24, 2021] we had 60 [people] in attendance. What an amazing change has occurred in just one year.”
The church recently had five baptisms and two professions of faith, with four more baptisms planned for this coming Sabbath, Aug. 14.
Long attributes this increase to God and church members’ friendly attitudes.
“People tell us when you walk into New Horizons, you immediately know that there is a spirit of love, a spirit of acceptance and a spirit of family that you don’t find in a lot of places,” Long said.
Roberts agrees with Long, saying he has no doubts that this contributed to membership growth.
“Maybe the most important aspect concerning our growth is the attitude of our members toward each other,” Roberts said. “… the Holy Spirit has created a bond of love, respect and acceptance for each other.”