The Value of Building Relationships

“We have a front row seat to see people experience forgiveness and freedom. We’ve seen marriages restored, relationships mended, and people discovering their purpose in Jesus. There is absolute joy in this!” Sterling Edwards said of being a church planter.

He and wife Jenna have been church planters in New York for 10 years. When the Edwards first moved from Houston, Texas, to Long Island, they connected with the first people they met: post office employees, a restaurant owner, and a man at the golf course. These people became the first attendees of their church, Crossroads Church of Long Island in North Babylon. As time passed, people introduced them to other people and their circle of friends widened. And their church’s membership grew. The church currently meets in 4 locations each weekend.

The Edwards still make developing relationships a priority, because growing churches is not about watching a structure go up—it’s about the day-to-day development of relationships with people.

“Relationship building takes time and most of it doesn’t occur on a Sunday morning,” Sterling Edwards said. “The vast majority of our relationship building takes place sitting across the table with someone at Panera Bread or the local diner.”

It also involves a lot of listening. Sterling Edwards said time and again, he has seen his wife hold someone’s hand, hug someone’s neck, and offer words of encouragement. But the opportunity to demonstrate the grace and mercy of Christ in those ways came because she listened to that person’s story first.

Sheila Gosney lives in Monroe City, Missouri, where she considers every interaction with people a prelude to the gospel.

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