Country Roads Baptist Church
Its name may sound traditional, but Country Roads Baptist Church is anything but. The Lenox, Iowa, congregation meets in a repurposed building in an old lumber yard. There are no pews or steeple — but the church is filled with friendly faces eager to share the love of Jesus.
“It’s kind of fun that our church building is in an old lumber yard,” says Country Roads’ pastor Mitch Green. “For some people it’s a ‘Huh?’ moment, and it’s kind of an interesting take on a church building.”
When pastor Green and his family first planted the church in 2009, they met in a garage, a front yard and even an old train depot. Most of the spaces were rented, so the congregation had to “pack in, pack out” every Sunday and Wednesday, which meant hauling in equipment like chairs and instruments and then removing it after every service.
Fortunately, when Country Roads began searching for a more permanent home, it didn’t have to look far. The young church had an unexpected blessing: it was given the opportunity to purchase the property and building (the old lumberyard) it had already been renting for about five years.
And when Country Roads began looking for a church loan to follow through on that purchase, it had another godsend. After church leaders explored loan options with local banks, the Baptist Convention of Iowa pointed them to WatersEdge Ministry Services and explained the partnership between them.
“There was a huge difference in the approach of the banks and WatersEdge Ministry Services,” Green says. “The banks look at the church as a business and WatersEdge looks at the church as a ministry. WatersEdge understands the church isn’t about profits and losses but about reaching the lost with the Gospel.”
WatersEdge offers competitive rates, invests any loan interest collected into Kingdom causes, and communicates clearly that it “values small churches in small places,” Green explains. He adds that Jerry Vaughan, chief lending officer for WatersEdge Ministry Services, helped Country Roads’ leadership evaluate the church’s financial position and the level of debt it was considering.
“Truthfully, in the end, it was quite an easy decision not only from our financial perspective but also for our mission,” Green says. “We found the WatersEdge process affirming, encouraging, informative and effective in helping us accomplish the mission and purposes that God has for us.”
After securing a loan from WatersEdge for $90,000 in late November 2017, the church purchased the property and immediately began necessary repair work on the building’s heating and air conditioning systems, as well as renovation to provide much-needed educational space.
Having a permanent space has allowed Country Roads to focus even more on servanthood in the community. For example, due to the large Hispanic population in Lenox, the church holds an ESL group twice a week in a newly renovated space.
The church’s first building, Green says, “provides the opportunity to meet our needs for today, next year and we believe for the next 50 years.”
Story by Margaret Colson and Anna Dellinger
Photos by Don Shepard